There are various ways that physical activity helps mental wellbeing, including:
Improved mood – Studies show that physical activity has a positive impact on our mood. One study asked people to rate their mood after period of exercise (i.e. walking or gardening) and after inactivity (i.e. reading a book). Researchers found that people felt more awake, calmer and more content after physical activity. For more information and a link to the study, go to the Mental Health Foundation website.
Reduced stress – Being regularly active is shown to have a beneficial impact on alleviating stress. It can help manage stressful lifestyles and can help us make better decisions when under pressure. Research on working adults shows that active people tend to have lower stress rates compared to those who are less active.
Better self-esteem – Physical activity has a big impact of our self-esteem – that’s how we feel about ourselves and our perceived self-worth. This is a key indicator of mental wellbeing. Those with improved self-esteem can cope better with stress and improves relationships with others.
Depression and anxiety – Exercise has been described as a “wonder drug” in preventing and managing mental health. Many GPs now prescribe physical activity for depression, either on its own or in conjunction with other treatments. It is effective at both preventing onset of depression and in terms of managing symptoms.
More at Sport England
Sometimes they are famous names such as Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade that make headlines, but they are all sons or daughters, friends or colleagues, valued members of families and communities.
Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address. Stigma, fear and lack of understanding compound the suffering of those affected and prevent the bold action that is so desperately needed and so long overdue.
One in four of us will have to deal with a mental health condition at some point in our lives, and if we’re not directly affected, someone we care for is likely to be. Our young people are particularly vulnerable, with suicide being the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 year olds and half of all mental illness beginning by the age of 14.
This is from an opinion piece by Lady Gaga and Tedros Adhanom, Director general of the World Health Organization, published in The Guardian.
Evidence-based research has found three behaviors that lead to higher scores on tests of mental ability in children: at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, nine to 11 hours of sleep a night, and no more than two hours a day of recreational screen time.
According to the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, for kids between the ages of eight and 11, it should include at least 60 minutes of physical activity, two hours or less of recreational screen time, and nine to 11 hours of sleep. Yet, in a new study, only one in 20 US children met all three of these recommendations.
The research, published on Thursday (Sept. 27) in the academic journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health (paywall), used data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, a 10-year, longitudinal, observational study of over 4,500 children between eight and 11 years old, from 21 study sites across the US, and compared their daily exercise, technology, and sleep habits to the guidelines. The researchers then assessed the participants’ “global cognition” with standards developed by the National Institute of Health.
They found that only 5% of children met all three recommendations. Sixty-three percent of children spent more than two hours a day staring at screens, going over the screen-time limit; 82% of children failed to meet the guidelines for daily physical activity; and 49% did not get the recommended hours of sleep. Twenty-nine percent met none of the recommended standards.
The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth
More at Quartz, NY Times, Science Daily
Heart disease and cancer still kill most Americans, but they weren’t the reason people are dying younger. In fact, deaths from heart disease have been declining. Between 2006 and 2016, however, death rates from from drug overdoses increased 72 percent and for suicides, 23 percent.
So who lives longest? According to the report, Hispanics had the highest life expectancy at 81.8 years. Non-Hispanic whites were next, with 78.5 years, followed by non-Hispanic blacks, with 74.8 years.
Read more at Atlanta Journal Constitution
More: These US Cities Have Lowest Life Expectancy – Newsweek via MSN
A new research paper, published last week in Psychological Science, reports that the common concern that new people may not like us, or that they may not enjoy our company, is largely unfounded.
Erica Boothby of Cornell University, and her colleagues Gus Cooney, Gilliam Sandstrom, and Margaret Clark, of Harvard University, University if Essex, and Yale University, conducted a series of studies to find out what our conversation partners really think of us. In doing so, they discovered a new cognitive illusion they call “the liking gap:” our failure to realize how much strangers appreciate our company after a bit of conversation.
The researchers observed the disconnect in a variety of situations: strangers getting acquainted in the research laboratory, first-year college students getting to know their dorm mates over the course of many months, and community members meeting fellow participants in personal development workshops. In each scenario, people consistently underestimated how much others liked them.
More at Scientific American
Doctors and policymakers in the rich world are increasingly worried about loneliness. Campaigns to reduce it have been launched in Britain, Denmark and Australia. In Japan the government has surveyed hikikomori, or “people who shut themselves in their homes”. Last year Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon-general of the United States, called loneliness an epidemic, likening its impact on health to obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes per day. In January Theresa May, the British prime minister, appointed a minister for loneliness.
Researchers define loneliness as perceived social isolation, a feeling of not having the social contacts one would like. Of course, the objectively isolated are much more likely than the average person to feel lonely. But loneliness can also strike those with seemingly ample friends and family.
Researchers have three theories as to how loneliness may lead to ill health, says Nicole Valtorta of Newcastle University. The first covers behaviour. Lacking encouragement from family or friends, the lonely may slide into unhealthy habits. The second is biological. Loneliness may raise levels of stress, say, or impede sleep, and in turn harm the body. The third is psychological, since loneliness can augment depression or anxiety.
Read more at the Economist (paywall)
Symbiosis is a housing program that matches university students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario with seniors living alone in the community. And it’s an idea that is becoming increasingly popular. It helps lower housing costs for university students and can have significant health benefits for the elderly.
The co-generational housing program is called Symbiosis because it’s based on a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship, says its founder, Soumeya Abed.
“It connects students who are looking for affordable housing with seniors who have a spare room, a furnished room, and can offer a little bit of extra support and companionship,” she said.
More at CBC
It’s not surprising to read that one in four children in Canada are overweight or obese, and only one in three school-age children meet minimum physical activity guidelines.
But other published findings about the health and well being of our children in Canada might be surprising.
Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health have just published a new report examining the mental and physical health of the 7.9 million young people under the age of 19. “Many Canadians think this is one of the best countries in the world to raise a child, but the statistics prove otherwise,” says Sara Austin, founder and lead director of Children First Canada.
She notes that Canada ranks a middling 25th out of 41 countries in UNICEF ranking of well-being of children and youth.