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By Susan Shekut, MA, Clinical Professional Psychology, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Mercy Home Mentoring

Walking, dancing and playing all all great forms of exercise. Photo from Mercy Home Training.

In the article, “Exercise reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress,” we learn that Princeton researchers found that exercise “reorganized the brain” to make  anxiety less likely to interfere with normal brain activity and to reduce the stress response.  How did they find this out? They tested the effects of exercise and stress on mice. Mice who had regular exercise experienced less anxiety when exposed to stress (cold water) than mice who were sedentary.

What does this mean for us humans? First off, I know mice are not human, but they are mammals like us, and researchers often use mice to investigate potential impacts of  different experiences on humans. Secondly, anxiety is a huge problem in our modern world. If exercise can help us better handle stress (and, hint, hint, Winter has a lot of cold weather, which can add to our stress levels!) and help us be less anxious when exposed to stress, it is yet another reason to make regular exercise part of your daily life.

Keep in mind that exercise does not have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights for 3 hours. (Although that is fine too if that’s what floats your boat and you have time and energy to do so!) Expecting yourself to do more than you can do can create anxiety, so don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting yourself to become a gym rat to be healthy. Exercise can be going for a walk, doing yoga or lifting dumbbells in front of your television. The point is to sit less and move more to improve your ability to manage stress in your life!

Now, I’m going to get off my computer and get some exercise!

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Image from Mentalhealth.net

Image from Mentalhealth.net

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently I was reading about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and wondered if there have been any studies done about exercise and ADHD. Kids with ADHD tend to be restless fidgety and have a hard time sitting down and performing the demands of Westernized school work (Sitting and focusing on reading or math without moving). I also have heard that many schools have limited gym, music and art classes due to budget cuts and that some schools even limit recess. In winter, recess is often moved indoors to the gym, if the school has a gym!  So what is the effect on children, especially children with ADHD?  I would imagine they would become even more restless and fidgety.

So I took a look at WebMD, a fairly reputable source of medical info on the web. And what I found did not surprise me!  According to WebMD, physical activity was a valid treatment for kids with ADHD, especially those that do not respond well to medication. AND even more important, WebMD states that spending time in nature can also be calming for children diagnosed with ADHD, regardless of whether they are on medication. WebMD is pro-medication and I understand their position as a medical site. I would not advocate that we take kids with severe symptoms of ADHD off medication and just let them frolic in the park. (Although it would be pretty wonderful if our schools made nature walks and playing physically more important role in child development.) But it’s great to know there is actually scientific evidence that promoting physical activity and time outdoors in nature as a treatment option for kids with ADHD! And for adults with and without ADHD, nature walks and physical activity is pretty great too!

 

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Climbing stairs is a great way to pump fresh blood, (and thus, oxygen) into your brain, give yourself a break from a stressful day, and burn a few calories. Best yet, it can be fun.

In the 1960’s, Volkswagen made ugly cars fun with the Volkswagen Beetle. Now they are finding new ways to make exercise fun. A car company encouraging people to exercise? Now that is FUN!

Link to You Tube video!

From Volkswagen’s The Fun Theory website: We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The Fun Theory. Link to The Fun Theory Website

Working Well agrees!

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In an article from Physorg.com, A new study shows that exercise boosts body image for both fit and unfit:

Attention weekend warriors: the simple act of exercise and not fitness itself can convince you that you look better, a new University of Florida study finds.

People who don’t achieve workout milestones such as losing fat, gaining strength or boosting cardiovascular fitness feel just as good about their bodies as their more athletic counterparts, said Heather Hausenblas, a UF exercise psychologist. Her study is published in the September issue of the Journal of Health Psychology.

“You would think that if you become more fit that you would experience greater improvements in terms of body image, but that’s not what we found,” she said. “It may be that the requirements to receive the psychological benefits of exercise, including those relating to body image, differ substantially from the physical benefits.”

The study by Hausenblas and graduate student Anna Campbell is the first to systematically analyze the wide-ranging effects of exercise on body image by examining all intervention studies on the subject until June 2008. From the 57 publications, the researchers found conclusively that exercise buffed up the way people see their bodies regardless of the actual benefits, but the results varied.

Negative body image has grown to almost epidemic proportions in the past 20 years, with as many as 60 percent of adults in national studies saying they don’t like the way their bodies look, Hausenblas said.

Americans spend billions of dollars a year for products designed to change their body size and shape, including diet pills and various cosmetic procedures, she said.

“Body dissatisfaction is a huge problem in our society and is related to all sorts of negative behavior including yo-yo dieting, smoking, taking steroids and undergoing cosmetic surgery,” she said. “It affects men and women and all ages, starting with kids who are as young as five years old saying they don’t like how their bodies look.”

The psychological advantages of exercise have been less explored, including the reduction of depression or confidence in body image, compared with the well-researched and understood physical benefits, she said.

Link to article here

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Does exercise makes you fatter?  According to an article in Time Magazine ‘s August 9th,  2009 issue, “Why Exercise Won’t Make you Thin,” vigorous exercise can make you unable to lose weight. The article states that people only have so much willpower. Once they use that limited self control to work out, they don’t have any more mental strength to resist over eating. It also states that vigorous exercise makes you ravenous and you end up eating much more if you exercise than if you do not.

Well, that’s just silly.  Think about it. If vigorous exercise made you fat, Michael Phelps would be a Sumo wrestler.  It is true that high caloric expenditure requires high caloric intake.  An Olympic athlete that burns 12000 calories a day in training would need to eat at 12000 calories just to maintain his current weight. People that work out for hours at a time–competitive body builders, gymnasts, swimmers and marathon runners–do expend a lot of calories. And they do need to eat to replace the calories they burn in exercise. But ask a marathon runner if he or she is ravenously hungry after a run. Many of them will tell you they actually lose their appetite immediately following an intense workout. Body builders eat frequent meals throughout the day to keep protean available to give their muscles building blocks to grow larger and stronger.

It’s only been relatively recently that human beings lead such sedentary lifestyles. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, most people had very physically active lives. Daily caloric intake was larger due to the extra caloric expenditure. In other words, if you spent your day tilling the fields, or washing clothes and dishes by hand, hand washing floors and making bread from scratch, you had a higher caloric needs than someone from 2009 that sits at work all day, drives home, microwaves a meal and sits in front of the television.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a leading authority in sports medicine and exercise science:

• Physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in weight maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes. In fact, participation in an exercise program has proven to be the very best predictor of maintaining weight that was lost.

• Effective weight loss and maintenance depend on a simple equation called energy balance: Calories expended through physical activity and normal lifestyle functions must exceed calories consumed.

• It is a myth that exercise can actually prevent weight loss by leading exercisers to overeat. Research and common sense disprove this notion. Look around the gym or the jogging trail. If this were the case, wouldn’t those who regularly exercise be the fattest?

• Physical activity needn’t involve expensive equipment, gym memberships or team athletics. Simple activities like walking, accumulated in 10-minute bouts, can have significant benefits.

John Jakicic, Ph.D., FACSM states that” “Again, it is clear in this regard that physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in enhancing weight loss maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes.”

Jakicic’s research on obesity, published in 2008, showed that a long duration of physical activity (275 minutes above baseline levels) led to the largest observed weight loss after a 24-month intervention.

Sorry for the letdown, folks, but exercise does help you lose fat and maintain the weight loss. And  it can be fun!

Sources:

Time Magazine Article link

ASCM Article link

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