Hate Exercising?

Do you hate exercising? Or do you find it impossible to find time for exercising? And do you fail again and again getting into the routine?

Then this Ted talk is for you!

Danish professor Bente Klarlund has researched the benefits of exercise and the results have been so convincing that she, who loathes exercise herself, have convinced herself to exercise.

Get the old bike out

Get the old bike out

 

“Those who think they do not have time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley

Professor Klarlund says “people don’t ask me, when do I excercise too much, they ask how little can I get away with?”

The great news is that a little exercise goes a long way, a very long way! A little exercise makes a big difference!

Research shows that exercise protects against 35 disorders and diseases, type 2 diabetes heart disease, cancer and dementia, to name a few. There is even evidence that exercise can be used as treatment for these chronic diseases!

As little as 30 min walking a day will cut your chances of getting sick with 30% – 1 hours walk per day by half! And by running it is even better!

If you really hate exercising Professor Klarlund suggests

  • skipping the elevator
  • using walk and talk meetings at work
  • biking to work
  • walking to the baker for your daily bread

Even presumably insignificant changes can have a significant positive impact on your health. 

Check out her fantastic Ted Talk and find out more – it is very reassuring!

I wrote about Professor Klarlund in an earlier post “muscles reward exercise”

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Great scientific proof – mindfulness treats depression and anxiety

Anyone who has ever been defeated by depression or overwhelmed by scary anxiety attacks, will know what I am talking about here. It is an awful experience!!

But, it doesn’t need to be! It’s indeed possible to get help and find relief from both anxiety and depression! There are many great roads leading to Rome – one of them is mindfulness, which is what I’m going to talk about.

I read an interesting research article in the Danish Videnskab.dk. The Danish researchers have found that practicing mindfulness actually helps, if it is done properly. The study shows that young adults suffering from depression or social phobia, and, as well, cancer patients, suffering from depression and anxiety, all show significant improvement after just 8 weeks of intensive mindfulness training!

The research has been published in an Ph.D study: ‘Mindfulness-based therapy for social phobia, recurrent depression, and psychological symptoms in cancer patients and survivors‘.

The research shows;

  • Patients using a mindfulness program improved the same as patients who went through Cognitive treatment.
  • the re-occurrence of depression is significantly less if patients use mindfulness, and
  • cancer patients feel less depressed and anxious.

According to Psychologist Dr. Jacob Piet from Aarhus University who was in charge of the research – it is quite fantastic that an intensive 8 weeks course of mindfulness practice can improve peoples’ lives like this! But, it is an intense program and people have to be motivated.

Dr. Piet says that mindfulness means “conscious presence” and many misunderstand it and think it is “just” something we do. But it is not that simple, he says. Mindfulness is a competence that comes with dedicated practice and intense training – every day.

When you are mindful you are in the present moment aware of emotions, sensations, thoughts, impulses  – you observe what goes on right now, without judging or analyzing.

To use mindfulness as a successful treatment it has to be practiced intensely over a period of time.

The first study that was done showed that relaxation was just as effective as confronting a fear. A group of young patients suffering from social phobia – was separated into two groups.  One group was treated with cognitive therapy where part of the treatment was to confront the fears – which is common in cognitive therapy. Another group was treated with mindfulness based therapy .

The results showed that mindfulness treatment was just as effective as cognitive therapy.

The second study showed that mindfulness can be as effective as medication! This study involved 593 patients with reoccurring depression and as a treatment diligently practiced mindfulness. The results showed a decrease in re-occurrence of depression with up to 43%! The research is so promising that the British Health Authorities recommend the method to all people who have previously suffered depression.

Cancer patients, as a group, are understandably often suffering from depression and anxiety. In the third part of the study, 1403 cancer patients participated. The results showed that after 2 months practice, the patients felt less anxious and less depressed. These cancer patients felt emotionally better, after using the mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness

I can understand why mindfulness could play such an important role in overcoming depression and anxiety – and even preventing it from reoccurring.

Mindfulness teaches us to be in the moment – it teaches us to observe without judgement – whatever feeling, sensation, thought or impulse there is. It teaches us to feel, rather than suppress – it teaches us to tune in with our core. It teaches us to relax, take some time every day to be in the moment, without judging without fixing – just being.

Interesting links about mindfulness:

Center for mindfulness

http://mymindfulnessblog.wordpress.com/

UCSD Center for mindfulness http://ucsdcfm.wordpress.com/

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center http://marc.ucla.edu/

Sweat the blues

Can exercise really help us beat the blues?

I came across an interesting article on one of my favorite Danish news sites Fri.dk called “Can exercise prevent depression”?

A research study done by The Danish National Institute of Public Health points out that exercise can have an effective preventive effect on depression.

There is no doubt that exercise can help us when we are feeling the blues, but prevent depression? This is what the article said:

4 hours light exercise or 2 hours hard exercise a week

The Danish study confirms what we already know, that exercise is good for us physically, and that exercise plays a major role in our emotional health, but it also showed that exercise may  have a preventive effect on depression!

The research was done with 18.000 Danes between 18-99 years of age, both answering questions sheets and undergoing blood tests during a 26 year period.

The results showed that, especially in women, there was a preventive effect in the occurrence of depression, by doing regular exercise.

Women who were either physical inactive or exercised less than 2 hours had 1.8 times higher risk of developing depression than the women who were exercising a lot. The “exercising a lot” criteria in the study was, light exercise more than 4 hours or more than 2 hours heavy exercise a week.

The research points (not surprisingly) to have the same beneficial effect for men, but then there was not as many depressive men participating in the study.

The research discussed whether  it is simply exercise that has a preventive effect. They, therefore, also studied people who were physically active during their work day, for example in the postal services, but the research clearly showed that the physical exercise has to be done in free time. Work related “exercise”  had no effect on depression!  So something points to the fact that it is not the physical activity in itself that has the effect, it is important that it is part of free time and maybe there also is a social component.

I think this affirms that health does not happen in isolation – balanced living and happy health – means many things, among them are: getting regular exercise, nourishing our bodies with good food, embracing (all) emotions, having healthy relationships at work and privately, etc. And remember, depression can be a healthy response to something not right in our lives. No matter how much we run, we still need to attend to the underlying emotions and consult our heart – the old saying is true, we cannot run from our problems.

“Being entirely honest with oneself is good exercise”- Sigmund Freud

I think the social component in exercise plays a big and important role in preventing depression. We get out, we meet people and often we have great conversation during exercise, we solve the worlds problems as we go. We connect in a special way with people we exercise with. We set goals together, we sweat together, we laugh and cry together, we stretch ourselves together, we go beyond, we celebrate successes and support each other, we encourage each other, we share together. These aspects have the power to heal us, make us feel better, and prevent depression from occurring.

“The greatest wealth is health “ – Virgil

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health” – Hippocrates

Earlier blog posts on exercise:

Muscles reward exercise

Make running part of your life – for good.

Getting into the great habit

Want to live longer? Jog a bit

Muscles reward exercise

I found this very interesting interview with Professor Dr. Med Bente Klarlund Pedersen in one of the Danish newspapers, Politiken (the Danish Article).

Professor (Dr. Med.) Bente Klarlund Pedersen is the director of Copenhagen Muscle Research Center and her focus is on inflammation and metabolism(CIM)

Her results are very interesting to us looking to improve health and balance our lives. For example, her early research has shown that there is a connection between physical activity and the immune system.

She shows that our muscles are not alone making us capable of moving around, but work similarly to other organs producing hormone-like compounds – important for our overall health. She has shown that muscles work like vital organs setting “turbo-on” conversion of sugar and fat during exercise.

Another really interesting point that Dr. Klarlund has found is that in people who are not physically active, not only do their muscles deteriorate, but lack of exercise also makes them more prone to diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis and depression. She is focusing her research to find out how inactivity can be connected to so many different lifestyle diseases.

Her basis research shows that muscles not only get messages from the nerves, but also communicate through many hormone-like compounds. Thus, muscles work like organs. Some of their research experiments with people paralyzed from the neck and down showed that by stimulating their muscles, they could achieve the same positive effects as if they had been exercising! Their bodies burned sugar and fat and they could even experience “Runner’s high” even though they were paralyzed and not physical active in any way.

In another experiment, they asked a group of people to limit their activities to walk a maximum of 1.500 steps a day – where 10.000 steps would be the norm. The results showed that lots of things happened – for example, they lost 1.2 kg muscle mass. They became insulin resistant which is the stage before diabetes. When they consumed fat, the fat remained longer in the body and built up around the inner organs – in just 2 weeks!!!

Her own 2 sons were part of the study and she explains how they, during the research, became irritable and short-fused. This gave her the idea to the next study she did. She teamed up with Neorospychologists to research how peoples’ focus and ability to concentrate changed when they didn’t get exercise. They are still collecting data but preliminary results show, as they expected, that it is more difficult to concentrate and focus when we do not exercise.

Professor Dr. Bente Klarlund Pedersen recommends a minimum of 1/2 hr of exercise every day. Some of her new research also points out that exercising helps to keep muscles stay younger for longer.

I find her research interesting on so many levels –  when it comes to preventing disease, how exercise affects our levels of concentration and our performance. I  find it fascinating to read about research on how exercise affects our emotional health and well-being.

Dr. Pedersen is currently researching marathon runners – she says she is fascinated by the extremes – to find the difference in the people who exercise a lot – and the people who do little or no exercise.

It is exciting to see what comes of her research.

Want to live longer? Jog a bit!

Reading through my Danish morning paper ” Berlingske Tidende”  equipped with a nice cuppa tea – I fell over an article called ” Few Hours Jogging Prolong Your Life Drastically”  – notice the word “Few“, really?

Yes, apparently according to the Danish study it is quite significant. It does not have to be hard and long runs before it makes a significant difference! This is the conclusion of an extended research project “Copenhagen City Heart Study” – started in 1976! The part of the study that involved jogging and it’s effect included 1.116 men and 762 women. The research showed that for joggers the risk of dying was reduced by  44% for both women and men! This reduction happened, even if they did not exercise every day. Between 1 to 2.5 hrs of jogging spread over 2 to 3 days every week gives optimal effect! The conclusion was that we can prolong our life span by 6.2 years for men, and 5.6 years for women – just by going jogging a few hours regularly – every week.

This is great news says Dr. Med Peter Schnohr  –  You do not have to do very much in order to achieve the benefits. The death rate is lower in people who are moderate joggers, than in people who never jog and the people who jog to extremes.

The effect on allergy, epilepsy, amnesia and other illnesses was also measured in the study – that in all followed 20,000 people between the ages of 2o and 93. The study has not yet been publicized but preliminary results were released at the heart conference “EuroPRevent 2012” last week. Dr. Med. Peter Schnohr proclaimed that the research has proven that regular jogging definitely prolongs life.

I am thrilled – I love my life most of the time, and hey, if I can prolong my life with 5.6 years from just jogging 1 – 2 1/2 hours every week, I will make sure I tie my shoe laces and get out there  –  cause that is pretty durable!!

So I’m off then – hope to see you out there!