Research Shows Physical Activity Benefits Are Worth Your Time

We continually hear about the multitude of health benefits of various forms of physical activity. Do you ever ask yourself, what exactly are some of those benefits? Look know further. The following research studies demonstrates the benefits acquired from regular physical activity. The following research studies offers a brief synopsis regarding the benefits from these different segments.

Physical Activity and COVID Protection

A 2021 study published by Kaiser Permanente Southern California of 50,000 people who developed COVID had striking findings. People who exercised for 10 minutes or less a week ended up hospitalized because of COVID. This happened at twice the rate of people who exercised 150 minutes a week. And most importantly, they were 2.5 times more likely to die. The researchers noted that being sedentary was the greatest risk factor for severe COVID. This was even beyond being elderly or an organ recipient.

A Reduction in Anxiety & Stress with Exercise

Exercise is just as effective as mindfulness at reducing people’s anxiety, a 2021 Cambridge University study found. The scientists reviewed 136 randomized control trials with 11,000 adult participants from 29 countries. In most cases mindfulness positively impacted anxiety, stress and depression, but there was no evidence it works 0better than exercise.

A 2020 study from the University of Limerick found strength training only twice a week has its benefits. The subjects performing lunges, squats and crunches led to 20 percent better scores on tests for anxiety. The researchers noted that the effect was larger than expected.

Physical Activity Offsets the Impact of Sitting Too Much

An 2020 study from global researchers, looked at movement tracking data from tens of thousands of people worldwide. They determined that people who were the most sedentary were significantly more likely to die young. The good news: It doesn’t take a whole lot of movement to counteract that threat. Just 11 minutes of brisk walking or other mild exercise each day led to significant reductions in early death. The sweet spot: 35 minutes of moderate activity led to the most longevity gains – no matter how long people sat.

A study in JAMA Oncology (2020) suggests that very sedentary people are roughly 80 percent more likely to die of cancer than those who sit less. The study used epidemiological data and activity trackers on 7,000 middle-aged men and women. They found people who sat the most, were 82 percent more likely to die from cancer. There was a bright spot in all of this. For every 30-minutes of daily movement, the risk of dying from cancer fell by 31 percent. 

Physical Activity Impacts the Aging Process

A 2018 study from Ball State University, tested the cardiovascular health and muscles of people in their seventies. This group exercised steadily for decades. They found that the muscles of the men and women were indistinguishable in many ways from those of healthy 25-year-olds. And these active septuagenarians essentially had the cardiovascular health of people 30-years younger. 

A study from the Cooper Institute and University of Texas, looked at roughly 18,000 people. They found that men and women who are more physically fit at midlife have a much lower risk of depression and death from cardiovascular disease later in life. Compared with those in the lowest fitness category, people in the highest were 16 percent less likely to have depression. More than 60 percent were less likely to have cardiovascular illness without depression. Finally, 56 percent were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Continue to stay strong and active as you age. If you’re not currently active, remember, it’s never too late to start! Regular physical activity may be just what the doctor ordered.

Use Jefit App to Track Your Exercise Progress

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app also has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and has a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.

Five Proven Exercise Strategies to Improve Mood and Anxiety

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Packaging the health benefits of exercise into a bottle or pill would be comparable to finding the Holy Grail. Though that won’t happen any time soon, you can still take advantage of what exercise has to offer. According to a study published in the Lancet Psychiatry, people report an average of 3.5 days of poor mental health in a given month. The amazing thing is we already know that there are exercise strategies for improving mood and anxiety. More of us just need to take advantage of doing these types of exercise on a regular basis.

The good news regarding this topic is any form exercise – from walking to housework – will reduce that number by an average of 1.5 days a month. Playing any type of team sport, in addition to aerobic exercise, and strength training seem to have the biggest affect on mood; with reports of these activities reducing the number of mental health days by 20 percent.

Amount of Exercise Needed

Individuals who exercise for 20 to 60 minutes a day, three to five days a week, receive the most benefit, compared with those who exercise either less or more. In fact, people who exercised 23 times a month and for longer than 90 minutes per workout, actually had worse mental health compared to those who exercised less often or for shorter periods of time, as noted in the study.

The following list includes five different activities that are proven exercise strategies that will improve mood and decrease anxiety. The goal is to get more of people doing some type of daily activity. Only 23 percent of Americans, over 18 years old, exercise on a regular basis. Meaning, they perform both cardio and strength training during the week, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Walking is a man’s best medicine.”

Hippocrates

Manageable Exercise Strategies to Improve Mood: Walking & Hiking

These are grouped together for no particular reason other than hiking is a more challenging progression of walking. Both are great for reducing stress and improving mood. This is especially true if you happen to be walking or hiking in the forest. The Japanese actually have a name for their strolls in the forest, they call it “Shinrinyoku.” They regard their walks or hikes in the forest as being similar to natural aromatherapy.

Newer research seems to reinforce the idea that spending time out in nature can be good for your mental health. A 2015 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, as an example, discovered that when young adults went on a 50-minute walk out in nature, they felt less anxious and had improved memory function.

In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, research scientists found a single bout of exercise – walking for 30-minutes – could instantly improve the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. Some scientists believe the reason for this is more neurobiological than anything.

“Walking and hiking works on stress by increasing arousal and energy levels and secondarily by reducing tension. The energy boost is immediate, while the tension reduction reveals itself later and over time. The enhanced energy enables you to better cope with stress, so that you are less likely to become tense in the first place.”

Running is a Big Stress Buster

Aerobic exercise, such as running, can produce positive changes in mood at least on a short-term basis across both young and older adults. Running 30-minutes during a week for three weeks has been shown to boost sleep quality, mood and concentration during the day according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Additional research showed a positive affect on trained runners who ran on a treadmill compared to untrained subjects; moderate-intensity running versus high-intensity running was shown to be have the best impact on “mood states.”

The mental benefits of running can be especially powerful for people who suffer from high anxiety and even depression. In a 2006 review published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, researchers found evidence that exercise, like running, can work in a way that is similar to how antidepressants work.

Yoga Benefits

You have probably heard before how important your breath is, especially nasal breathing. No other activity focuses more on breath than meditation and yoga. The simple act of sitting or lying supine for even a few minutes, focusing on your breath, can make an impact on both mood and stress levels. Asanas work on stretching, lengthening, balancing and releasing stress in the muscles. These various postures can help release built-up muscle tension and stiffness in the body.

According Harvard Medical School, “by reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is evidence that yoga also increases heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress.

Strength Training Goes a Long Way

We know regular bouts of strength training can benefit our muscles, connective tissue and bones. The affects of regular training can go well beyond that. For instance, JAMA Psychiatry, reported “people with mild to moderate depression who performed resistance training two or more days a week saw “significant” reductions in their symptoms, compared with people who did not.” The research looked at 33 randomized clinical trials involving more than 1,800 subjects, and the findings “suggested that resistance exercises may be even more beneficial for those with more severe depressive symptoms.”

Research published in American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (2010) reviewed seven resistance training studies to determine if training could be used as an intervention for people with anxiety. Their review on this topic demonstrated that resistance training is in fact a meaningful intervention for people suffering from anxiety. Two of the seven studies compared the effects of high-intensity resistance training (80% of 1-RM) to moderate-intensity (50%-60% of 1-RM). The results indicated that anxiety was reduced more with moderate-intensity resistance training. Stay Strong with Jefit.

References

Yanker, G., Burton, K., Walking Medicine. McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1990.

O’Connor, P.J., Herring, M.P. and Carvalho, A. Mental health benefits of strength training in adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 4(5), 377-396., 2010.

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