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Exercise and Mental Health

Old 06-12-21, 09:22 AM
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work4bike
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Exercise and Mental Health

Just another article on the effects of exercise on one's health, specifically mental health. What I like about this article is that it puts a little more emphasis on intensity of exercise. I've long said that simply walking or easy exercise activities, including bike rides has a very limited effect on one's health, i.e. you reach a plateau very quickly.

https://qz.com/2018965/how-exercise-...utm_source=YPL

A couple excerpts

A molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor helps the brain produce neurons, or brain cells. A variety of aerobic and high-intensity interval training exercises significantly increase BDNF levels. There is evidence from animal research that these changes are at epigenetic level, which means these behaviors affect how genes are expressed, leading to changes in the neuronal connections and function.

Moderate exercise also seems to have anti-inflammatory effects, regulating the immune system and excessive inflammation. This is important, given the new insight neuroscience is gaining into the potential role of inflammation in anxiety and depression.


Exercise improves clinical symptoms of anxiety and depression

Researchers also have examined the effects of exercise on measurable brain function and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise improves memory function, cognitive performance, and academic achievement. Studies also suggest regular exercise has a moderate effect on depressive symptoms even comparable to psychotherapy. For anxiety disorders, this effect is mild to moderate in reducing anxiety symptoms. In a study that I conducted with others among refugee children, we found a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and PTSD among children who attended eight to 12 weeks of dance and movement therapies.

Exercise could even potentially desensitize people to physical symptoms of anxiety. That is because of the similarity between bodily effects of exercise, specifically high-intensity exercise, and those of anxiety, including shortness of breath, heart palpitation, and chest tightness. Also, by reducing baseline heart rate, exercise might lead to signaling of a calmer internal physical environment to the brain.
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Old 06-12-21, 05:44 PM
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Not very good news for me. My rides have definitely lacked intensity during the last few years.
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Old 06-12-21, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I've long said that simply walking or easy exercise activities, including bike rides has a very limited effect on one's health
The data appear to say something different: that even low-level exercise done regularly has a profound effect on a person's health and mortality.

The dose of exercise that promotes health is surprisingly small. A study of more than 13,000 men and women who were followed for eight years showed that although death rates decreased with greater levels of fitness, the largest reduction occurred between the sedentary group and those with low levels of fitness.

--Case et al, The Haywire Heart, Velopress, 2018
Also there's this study from Taiwan:

Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study

Findings: Compared with individuals in the inactive group, those in the low-volume activity group, who exercised for an average of 92 min per week (95% CI 71-112) or 15 min a day (SD 1·8), had a 14% reduced risk of all-cause mortality (0·86, 0·81-0·91), and had a 3 year longer life expectancy. Every additional 15 min of daily exercise beyond the minimum amount of 15 min a day further reduced all-cause mortality by 4% (95% CI 2·5-7·0) and all-cancer mortality by 1% (0·3-4·5). These benefits were applicable to all age groups and both sexes, and to those with cardiovascular disease risks. Individuals who were inactive had a 17% (HR 1·17, 95% CI 1·10-1·24) increased risk of mortality compared with individuals in the low-volume group.

-- Wen et al, Lancet, 2011
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Old 06-13-21, 01:48 AM
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On the other hand...

No, Running Isn't Therapy (2014)

No, Running Isn't Always the Best Therapy (2018)

Running Isn't Therapy (2020)

The gist of the dissenting opinions is that while exercise offers some mental health benefits, it isn't a substitute for psychological/psychiatrist therapy.

I'd bet millions of fitness enthusiasts who endured 2020 would agree.
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Old 06-13-21, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
The data appear to say something different: that even low-level exercise done regularly has a profound effect on a person's health and mortality.



Also there's this study from Taiwan:
I absolutely agree, that a little bit of exercise does greatly improve one's physical/mental disposition as compared to sedentary people. However, I go to a gym and I see a lot of older people who do the same thing over and over, i.e. such as ride a stationary bike or get on the elliptical machine....and go thru the movements of "exercise", yet they still (some I've seen for years) have a gut, they don't have a spring to their step. In other words they've hit a plateau and as they age they'll only decline. I do believe intense exercise can lessen this decline and help aging people be independent for longer in life.

The body, especially us aging old folks (I'm 56) need to challenge ourselves. We may live older doing those things, compared to sedentary people, but we're missing the mark on true fitness as we age, which means being independent, which is my goal. I never want to be a burden to my family -- I've seen this enough.

P.S. I know this is more anecdotal than scientific, but that's all I got, since the science doesn't really focus on this issue of exercise intensity.



Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
On the other hand...

No, Running Isn't Therapy (2014)

No, Running Isn't Always the Best Therapy (2018)

Running Isn't Therapy (2020)

The gist of the dissenting opinions is that while exercise offers some mental health benefits, it isn't a substitute for psychological/psychiatrist therapy.

I'd bet millions of fitness enthusiasts who endured 2020 would agree.
I don't disagree with those articles and even my article mentioned that exercise was not the end-all-be-all in mental health, but rather a very important tool, much more so than medication.




.
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Old 06-13-21, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
On the other hand...

No, Running Isn't Therapy (2014)

No, Running Isn't Always the Best Therapy (2018)

Running Isn't Therapy (2020)

The gist of the dissenting opinions is that while exercise offers some mental health benefits, it isn't a substitute for psychological/psychiatrist therapy.

I'd bet millions of fitness enthusiasts who endured 2020 would agree.
I don't think anybody is under the impression that running is the only thing they need to do for their mental health. If you look in the road forum no one is posting ”bikes are pretty cool but you can't transport goods across the ocean with them."
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Old 06-13-21, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I've long said that simply walking or easy exercise activities, including bike rides has a very limited effect on one's health, i.e. you reach a plateau very quickly.
Remember thefts a difference between fitness, which eventually plateaus without enough stimulus, and emotional well being, which this thread is about. Going for walks has been shown to improve people's affect. Interestingly, HIIT has been comically shown to make people more anxious and unhappy in the hours following a session.
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Old 06-13-21, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Remember thefts a difference between fitness, which eventually plateaus without enough stimulus, and emotional well being, which this thread is about. Going for walks has been shown to improve people's affect. Interestingly, HIIT has been comically shown to make people more anxious and unhappy in the hours following a session.
I agree, any fitness routine will lead to a plateau. However, I always change things up, so to challenge myself, that's key to true fitness/health. I've never heard that about HIIT leading to people being more anxious/unhappy, it definitely has not been my experience. And as far as "easy" exercises, I'm a fan, I definitely don't "kill" myself on every workout, rather it's a good thing to incorporate (how much? depends on the person....). However, only after one has developed a very strong base of easy workouts.

Going for walks can definitely improve one's outlook on life, but if that's all you do, that effect will lessen over time. I've thru-hiked the AT and have done several very long hikes of 100-600 miles in length and so I'm a fan of walking and I do think it is one of the best ways to build a kickass aerobic base. However, I do remember at times passing so many wonderful sceneries, but after looking out at them I remember thinking....Yeah, it's f**kin' beautiful, and then just trudged on....



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Old 06-13-21, 08:02 PM
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According to that study from Taiwan the first 15 minutes a day of exercise reduced mortality by 14%. Each additional 15 minutes by an additional 4%.

That means if you exercise for 5 5/8 hours per day you'll be immortal!

A Century a Day Keeps Death Away
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Old 06-14-21, 08:12 AM
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finally joined another gym & looking forward to my lunchtime visits. I stopped gong Feb. 2020, due to the impending doom of covid. the lunchtime workouts aren't long but I try to make them intense. regardless, just knowing I have that to look forward to, has lifted my spirits today
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Old 06-14-21, 09:27 AM
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I didn't take time to look at the study in the OP. However a lot of the studies that say 20 minutes or some small amount of activity shows a marked improvement don't go to the extent of finding out what else those people do. They might just walk or bicycle 20 minutes, but the study never tells us if some of these people also do other very active things.

So the people doing various activities to a greater extent might be making those that only do twenty minutes of something look good when viewed only as that group doing that activity.
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Old 06-14-21, 09:41 AM
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Forest bathing! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/
While I haven't done anything scientific, my wife and I notice that day hikes in the mountains are good for you. When we backpack, we say that you aren't "there" until after the 3rd day. That's how long it takes for all that baggage to fall away. It's quite noticeable. It makes sense that a species will do better in the environment which it evolved to occupy.

Re exercise: 8-10 hours/week has been a comfortable amount for this geezer. 15'/day = 1.75 hours/week and 10 hours/week = about 5 15' bits/day or 14% + 4*4% = 30%! Yeah, so I doubt it. OTOH one of the bummers of getting older is noticing people dying who are younger than you. The problem with looking at life expectancy stats in the US is the high rate of gun deaths. If we've made it to bike forums still alive, we'll probably average better than the stark number, so say 80. IMO we're somewhat unlikely to put 30% on that, which would be 104.
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Old 06-14-21, 04:19 PM
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chipped a tooth on my way back from the gym eating a 1/2 sandwich in my car. talk about a post-work-out buzz-kill
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Old 06-16-21, 09:54 AM
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I still wonder if one of my best friend that's been obese for all his adult life will be attending my funeral. I don't get on to him about his weight, he knows what it does for him. And I certainly don't want him looking into my coffin asking... "how much healthier did all that cycling make you?" <grin>

He enjoys his life and I enjoy mine.
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Old 06-16-21, 10:39 AM
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so, to summarize the effects of exercise on your brain...
some is drastically better than none, more is better, but not too much.
frankly, it sounds a lot like cake.
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