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Amber Todd


Objective: Researchers have long recognized the positive association between exercise and mental health. With such a large proportion of the United States population being affected by mental illness, it is more important now than ever, to establish ways to improve the mental health of the country. The aim of this study is to evaluate the mental health of areas with differing levels of access to exercise, specifically Ohio and West Virginia, and begin making connections and associations about locations with similar data.

Methods: Data used in this study was gathered by the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program (CHR&R). The data provided for the number of mentally unhealthy days was reported from surveys while the data associated with access to exercise opportunities was calculated based on distance to opportunities, with greater distance allowance for more rural areas. Utilizing SPSS statistics software, compiled data was statistically analyzed via paired and unpaired t-tests as well as Pearson correlation.

Results: Analysis indicated that both access to exercise opportunities and mentally unhealthy days were significantly different between Ohio and West Virginia. Further, a negative correlation was found indicating that in West Virginia for 2020, as access to exercise opportunities increases, the number of reported mentally unhealthy days decreases. No correlation was found between these two variables in Ohio for 2020. Likely, differences seen between states are attributable to population size and/or geographical location.

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