Antidepressants vs. Running: Which Treats Depression Better? (M)

The 16-week study gave people the choice between group running or taking antidepressants.

The 16-week study gave people the choice between group running or taking antidepressants.

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Longer Life: 30-Minute Activity Reduces Common Disease Risk 20%

Thirty minutes per week of this activity lowers the risk of early death, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Thirty minutes per week of this activity lowers the risk of early death, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

People who do muscle strengthening activities for 30 to 60 minutes per week, are at a 10 to 20 percent lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death.

Muscles, or more precisely, skeletal muscles are important for energy production, body movement, and generally the quality of human life.

Adults’ skeletal muscle health greatly benefits from regular muscle strengthening activities such as heavy gardening, digging and shovelling, cycling, hill walking, resistance band exercises, lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and lifting weights.

Past studies have found that muscle strengthening exercises are associated with longevity, but the optimal dose was unknown.

For this reason, a research team analysed data from sixteen studies on associations between muscle strengthening activities and health outcomes in adults.

They found that muscle strengthening activities reduced diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and death up to 17 percent.

People who performed muscle strengthening activities for 30 to 60 minutes per week benefited most as the risk of CVD, cancer and all causes of death was reduced up to 20 percent.

The risk of diabetes remarkably went down with 60 minutes muscle strengthening once-a-week  activities were carried out.

However, combination of muscle strengthening and aerobic exercises seem to offer maximum risk reduction.

These two activities together reduced risk of death for CVD by 46 percent, all-causes by 40 percent, and cancer by 28 percent.

The authors concluded:

“The combination of muscle strengthening and aerobic activities may provide a greater benefit for reducing all-cause, [cardiovascular disease], and total cancer mortality.

Given that the available data are limited, further studies—such as studies focusing on a more diverse population—are needed to increase the certainty of the evidence.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Momma et al., 2022).

The Number Of Steps Linked To A Longer Life

This number of steps every day can lower the risk of early death by 70 percent.

This number of steps every day can lower the risk of early death by 70 percent.

Walking 7,000 steps (5.6 km or 3 miles) each day lowers the risk of death by about two-thirds in adults compared to those who walk less.

A study has found that middle-aged adults who walked at least 7,000 steps each day had a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of dying prematurely.

They also say that walking faster or taking more steps than 10,000 a day didn’t reduce the risk of death any further.

The commonly-repeated advice on walking 10,000 steps every day is not based on scientific evidence, but actually is from a Japanese company marketing a pedometer.

Therefore, the researchers wanted to find out whether this 10,000 steps a day target can really provide health benefits and longevity.

Dr Amanda Paluch and her team began with one question:

“How many steps per day do we need for health benefits?

That would be great to know for a public health message or for clinician-patient communication.”

For this study, 2,110 participants aged 38 to 50 years were followed for 11 years.

They were divided into three groups: high- step volume for more than 10,000 steps a day, moderate for 7,000 to 9,999 steps a day, and low for less than 7,000 steps a day.

Dr Paluch said:

“You see this gradual risk reduction in mortality as you get more steps.

There were substantial health benefits between 7,000 and 10,000 steps but we didn’t see an additional benefit from going beyond 10,000 steps.

For people at 4,000 steps, getting to 5,000 is meaningful.

And from 5,000 to 6,000 steps, there is an incremental risk reduction in all-cause mortality up to about 10,000 steps.”

While previous studies related to steps have often been focused on older adults, this research involved middle-aged people.

The results suggest that people would stay healthier and live longer if they added this amount of regular steps to their everyday lives.

Dr Paluch said:

“Preventing those deaths before average life expectancy — that is a big deal.

Showing that steps per day could be associated with premature mortality is a new contribution to the field.”

A weight loss study has also suggested the 10,000 steps rule as the gold standard.

They have also found that people would see the physical and mental health benefits of walking even by just doing 7,500 steps.

A different study by Spartano & colleagues on the effect of light physical activity on reducing brain aging suggest 10,000 steps each day:

“Achieving 10 000 or more steps per day was associated with higher brain volume compared with those achieving fewer than 5000 steps per day.”

The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Paluch et al., 2021).

Exercise Stimulates Neurons In Brain’s Memory And Learning Centres

The beneficial effects of exercise on the hippocampus, an area critical for memory and learning.

The beneficial effects of exercise on the hippocampus, an area critical for memory and learning.

Being physically active is essential for maintaining mental health and what is more, improves hippocampal function related to learning and memory, a study shows.

Exercise stimulates the production of chemical signals important for neuronal development in the hippocampus.

Mr Ki Yun Lee, the study’s first author, said:

“The hippocampus is a crucial area for learning and memory, and therefore cognitive health.”

During physical activity our muscle fibres contract and by doing so certain chemical compounds are released into the blood vessels and circulated around the body, including the hippocampus.

Swimming, cycling, bicep curls, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, are examples of sporting activities that involve muscle contraction (tightening, lengthening, or shortening of muscles).

The researchers wanted to find out how muscle signals are converted and used for neuronal activity and development in the hippocampus.

Knowing the beneficial effects of exercise on the hippocampus could lead to specific exercise-based interventions to overcome neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Hippocampal neurons

For this study, samples containing mice muscle cells were obtained and kept in the lab in cell culture plates.

When the muscle cells were grown, they began to contract and release chemical signals in the plates.

Then those cultures containing chemical signals were added to another culture which held hippocampal neurons and astrocytes (supportive cells).

The team also used various techniques to track neurons’ electrical activity and so they were able to examine how the hippocampal cells were influenced by the chemical signals.

They found that hippocampal neurons, when receiving the chemical signals from contracting muscles, started to produce larger and more frequent electrical signals.

These suggest that neurons of the hippocampus were flourishing and healthy while at the same time developing a powerful network.

Furthermore, they looked at the mediating role of astrocytes in order to understand what biological mechanism links exercise to brain health.

Mr Lee said:

“Astrocytes are the first responders in the brain before the compounds from muscles reach the neurons.”

When astrocytes were removed from the cell cultures, the team saw that hippocampal neurons began to generate more electrical signals.

This indicates an absence of astrocytes, Mr Lee said:

“Astrocytes play a critical role in mediating the effects of exercise.

By regulating neuronal activity and preventing hyperexcitability of neurons, astrocytes contribute to the balance necessary for optimal brain function.”

He added:

“Ultimately, our research may contribute to the development of more effective exercise regimens for cognitive disorders such as ‘s disease.”

The study was published in the journal Neuroscience (Lee et al., 2023).

The Amount Of Exercise That Keeps You Out Of Hospital

As little exercise as this keeps you fit and out of hospital.

As little exercise as this keeps you fit and out of hospital.

For people over 40, doing just 20 minutes of exercise a day will keep you fit and prevent hospital admission for some years to come.

A study on 81,717 UK adults reveals that those who exercise regularly are at a lower risk of hospitalization from many health issues henceforward.

They found that 20 minutes of regular exercise will cut the risk of hospitalization in adults over 40 by 23 percent.

Increased physical activity including moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise was very effective in reducing odds of hospitalization for 9 common illness.

These common conditions were iron deficiency anaemia, urinary tract infections (UTIs), colon polyps, gallbladder disease, venous thromboembolism, diverticular disease, diabetes, ischemic stroke, and pneumonia.

The likelihood of diabetes, urinary tract infections, and gallbladder disease was at lowest level among people who performed exercise every day.

This suggests that exercise not only keeps the heart healthy, make us slimmer and fitter but also provides many other health benefits.

According to physical activity guidelines, adults should be active and move more during the day.

They should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise, such as running, swimming, or cycling uphill during the week.

20 minutes a day

The study examined the link between levels of physical activity and the risk of admission to hospital.

Participants’ physical activity was recorded while they wore an accelerometer on the wrist for one week in 2013 and 2015 with a 7-year follow up.

During this period, 48,560 participants were taken into hospital for a number of reasons.

The results showed that adults of all ages who exercised at least 20 minutes a day were more likely to avoid hospital.

Moderate to intense physical activity was associated with decreased risk of hospitalization for those identified 9 conditions, ranging from 4 percent for colon polyps to 23 percent for diabetes.

Dr Eleanor Watts, the study’s first author, said:

“Studies show that physical activity can improve immune function, lung and heart health, insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.

Physical activity also can reduce body fat, high blood pressure and cholesterol.”

Benefits of exercise

Past studies suggest that physical activity is the best “prescription” and should be the first treatment option for lowering blood cholesterol and hypertension.

Research has found that the best way to maintain weight loss in the long-term is through more exercise rather than less food.

Even simple exercise such as fast walking helps burn more calories but more importantly increases longevity and lowers the risk of early death from heart disease.

Psychological benefits of exercise include fighting depression and anxiety, increasing stress resilience, speeding up the mind and much more.

Professor Chip Lavie, a cardiologist, said;

“Moderate-to-vigorous is a fairly broad range… a daily jog may bring bigger benefits than walking your dog.

Plus, the amount of exercise a person needs varies with the ultimate goal: If you want to lose weight, the more calories you burn, the better.

But the main message is that almost any physical activity is better than inactivity.”

Experts say that people don’t need to push for routine running workouts, any plan for healthy living is a good plan.

Even if a person has been physically inactive for a long time, it is still better late than never.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Watts et al., 2023).

This Depression & Anxiety Treatment Beats Medication & Counselling By 50% (M)

The largest benefits were seen among people with depression, pregnant and postpartum women and healthy individuals.

The largest benefits were seen among people with depression, pregnant and postpartum women and healthy individuals.

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Exercise: 20 Mental Benefits Of Physical Activity

Psychological benefits of exercise include fighting depression and anxiety, increasing stress resilience, speeding up the mind and many more…

Psychological benefits of exercise include fighting depression and anxiety, increasing stress resilience, speeding up the mind and many more…

The physical benefits of exercise are considerable.

If everyone got a little exercise, we could put half the doctors in the world out of a job.

But it’s not just doctors who’d be out of a job if people could take the stairs every now and then, it’s also psychologists.

That is because exercise has considerable benefits for the mind as well.

Here are 20 wonderful psychological benefits of exercise on the mind.

1. Physical activity increases stress resilience

Studies on mice have shown that one of the benefits of exercise is that it reorganises the brain so that it is more resistant to stress (Schoenfeld et al., 2013).

It does this by stopping the neurons firing in the regions of the brain thought to be important in the stress response (the ventral hippocampus).

This may be part of the reason that exercise…

2. Exercise reduces anxiety

A well-known benefit of exercise is that it has a relatively long-lasting protective effect against anxiety (Smith, 2013).

Both low and medium intensity exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety.

However, those doing high intensity exercise are likely to experience the greatest reduction in anxiety, especially among women (Cox et al., 2004).

3. Dementia risk lowered by physical activity

Almost any type of exercise that gets your heart working reduces the risk of dementia.

A review of 130 different studies found that exercise helped prevent dementia and mild cognitive impairment among participants (Ahlskog et al., 2011).

Regular exercise in midlife was associated with lower levels of cognitive problems.

Not only this, but participants who exercised had better spatial memory.

4. Exercise to escape a bad mood

If you want to raise your energy levels, reduce tension and boost mood, you can talk to your friends or listen to some music.

But, most agree that for the difficult job of transforming a bad mood into a good one, exercise is the most effective method (Thayer et al., 1994).

5. Cut down on cocaine

Or perhaps you’re getting a little too happy?

By all accounts, cocaine is a bit more-ish.

At least when you put it into the water of experimental rats, they suddenly develop quite a thirst.

Exercising rats, though, while still enjoying a little taste of Columbia best, tend to self-administer less cocaine (Lynch et al., 2010).

This suggests one of the benefits of exercise may help humans regulate their cocaine intake.

6. Physical activity fights depression

Just as exercise fights anxiety, it also fights its close relation, depression.

One review of 39 different studies involving 2,326 people has found that exercise generally provides moderate relief from depression (Cooney et al., 2013).

It won’t cure, but it can certainly help.

The beneficial effects of exercise may be as great as starting therapy or taking anti-depressants.

7. Speed up your mind

After 30 minutes exercise, people’s working memory improves.

Working memory includes what’s in your conscious mind right now and whatever you’re doing with this information.

There’s some evidence that accuracy drops a bit, but this is more than made up for by increases in speed (McMorris et al., 2011).

8. Consolidate long-term memory

The benefits of exercise for long-term memory are somewhat controversial.

However, at low-intensity, one recent study has found that exercise can benefit long-term memory (Schmidt-Kassow et al., 2013).

9. Physical activity boosts self-control

A review of 24 different studies on the effects of exercise on self-control, found that a short bout provides an immediate boost to self-control (Verburgh et al., 2013).

Although regular exercise didn’t show an effect on self-control, a period of moderate exercise did allow people to take better control of themselves.

10. Help with serious mental disorders

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder often involving hallucinations, paranoia and confused thinking.

Despite its grave nature, there’s evidence that exercise can help for this, as well as alcoholism and body image disorder (Tkachuk et al., 1999).

11. Exercise reduces silent strokes

A silent stroke is one that seems to have no outward symptoms, but does actually damage the brain.

Without knowing why, sufferers can start experiencing more falls, memory problems and difficulties moving.

Exercise, though, reduces the chance of these silent strokes by 40 percent.

It has to be more than just walking or playing golf, though; things like jogging, biking, playing tennis or swimming are probably required to get the protective effect (Willey et al., 2011).

12. Physical activity protects against Alzheimer’s

In the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s, the brain literally wastes away; closely followed by the body.

Neurons and synapses are lost and the sufferer’s memory, personality and whole being slowly but surely disappear.

Exercise, though, provides a protective effect against Alzheimer’s by helping to produce chemicals which fight the damaging inflammation of the brain (Funk et al., 2011).

13. Improve children’s school performance

Children who are fitter and engage in more exercise do better at school (Tomporowski et al., 2011).

Incredibly, one study has found that the increased mental abilities of children who exercise makes them safer crossing the road when distracted by their mobile phones (Chaddock et al., 2012).

There’s a reason to get kids to exercise if ever I heard one.

14. Exercise stimulates brain cell growth

Part of the reason that exercise is beneficial in so many different mental areas is that it helps new brain cells to grow.

A study on rats has shown that, in response to exercise, the brain regions related to memory and learning grow (Bjørnebekk, 2007).

15. Increase executive functioning

What psychologists call ‘executive functioning’ includes all kinds of useful abilities like being able to switch tasks efficiently, ignore distractions, make plans, and so on.

Reviewing many studies in this area, Guiney and Machado (2012) find that a major benefit of exercise is that it reliably improves executive function, especially in older adults.

16. Exercise improves sleep

The relationship between exercise and sleep is a little more complicated than most imagine.

It’s not necessarily the case that exercise makes you tired, so you sleep better.

For example, one study on insomniacs found that 45 minutes on a treadmill did not make them sleep better that night (Baron et al., 2013).

However, the study found that exercise did help sleep in the long-term.

Participants with insomnia who kept to their exercise programs over 16 weeks did get better sleep than those who did no exercise.

17. Physical activity prevents migraines

Migraine sufferers are often afraid of exercise because it might bring on an attack.

But a study has shown that exercise can actually help prevent migraines (Varkey et al., 2011).

Participants who took part in three sessions a week on an exercise bike for three months showed improvements equivalent to taking the latest anti-migraine drugs.

18. Exercise benefits smoking cessation

Even something as simple as a short walk can help people give up smoking.

According to 12 different studies reviewed by Taylor et al. (2008), people who take a brisk walk, or similar exercise, experience less stress, less anxiety and fewer withdrawal symptoms when trying to give up.

The reason it helps is partly because it actually makes the cigarettes seem less attractive (Van Rebsburg et al., 2009).

19. Reduce motivation to eat

People tend to think that exercising makes you eat more to replace the lost calories, but new research questions this.

Recent studies have found that, after exercise, people show lower motivation to eat food (Hanlon et al., 2012).

Exercise may suppress appetite by decreasing the body’s levels of ghrelin, which is a hormone that stimulates appetite (Broom et al, 2008).

20. Exercise is more fun than we predict

The final effect exercise has on the mind is not so wonderful.

It’s the effect that we tend to predict it’s going to be horrible.

But this is short-sighted.

Research has shown that while exercising can be a drag at the start of the session, people soon warm up.

According to Ruby et al. (2011), people enjoy their workouts much more than they predict.

This was true across lots of different types of people and for both moderate and challenging workouts.

So, give it a go, it really won’t be as bad as you think.

You might even enjoy it.


The One-Minute Activities That Dramatically Lengthen Life

These quick activities performed throughout the day have a dramatic effect on the risk of dying from any cause.

These quick activities performed throughout the day have a dramatic effect on the risk of dying from any cause.

Non-exercisers — by doing four one-minute bursts of activity — could lower their odds of dying prematurely from any cause.

Vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (VILPA) is a high intensity activity done in a very short period of time (one or two minutes long).

Power walking to get to work, running for the bus, active playing with children and stair climbing are all examples of VILPA ingrained in daily life.

Three to four one-minute sessions of VILPA each day is linked to an almost 50 percent reduced chance of dying from cardiovascular disease and 40 percent reduced chance of dying from any cause including cancer, a study reveals.

Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, the study’s first author, said:

“Our study shows similar benefits to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be achieved through increasing the intensity of incidental activities done as part of daily living, and the more the better.

A few very short bouts totalling three to four minutes a day could go a long way, and there are many daily activities that can be tweaked to raise your heart rate for a minute or so.”

Most people aged 40 or older do not exercise or play sports regularly, but this study shows how incidental physical activity can improve adults’ health.

Professor Stamatakis said:

“Upping the intensity of daily activities requires no time commitment, no preparation, no club memberships, no special skills.

It simply involves stepping up the pace while walking or doing the housework with a bit more energy.”

For this study, the physical activity of over 25,000 non-exercisers was measured using wrist-worn accelerometer data.

The study’s key findings:

  • About 11 percent of non-exercisers didn’t do any VILPA.
  • VILPA bouts mostly lasted up to 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Most participant did eight VILPA bouts every day.

Those who did more VILPA bouts were healthier than the others.

The odds of dying form cardiovascular disease and cancer was lower by 65 percent and 49 percent respectively among subjects who did 11 bouts a day compared with those with zero VILPA.

This was comparable to those who exercised regularly, suggesting that vigorous activity — whether it is done as housework or as part of daily life — can cut the risk as much as gym-based exercise or sport.

Professor Stamatakis said:

“Our previous knowledge about the health benefits of vigorous physical activity comes from questionnaire-based studies, but questionnaires cannot measure short bouts of any intensity.

The ability of wearable technology to reveal ‘micropatterns’ of physical activity, such as VILPA, holds huge potential for understanding the most feasible and time-efficient ways people can benefit from physical activity, no matter whether it is done for recreation or as part of daily living.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine (Stamatakis et al., 2022).