Anxiety Effectively Treated with Exercise

Both moderate and strenuous exercise alleviate symptoms of anxiety, even when the disorder is chronic, a study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg shows.

The study, now published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, is based on 286 patients with anxiety syndrome, recruited from primary care services in Gothenburg and the northern part of Halland County. Half of the patients had lived with anxiety for at least ten years. Their average age was 39 years, and 70 percent were women.

Through drawing of lots, participants were assigned to group exercise sessions, either moderate or strenuous, for 12 weeks. The results show that their anxiety symptoms were significantly alleviated even when the anxiety was a chronic condition, compared with a control group who received advice on physical activity according to public health recommendations.

Most individuals in the treatment groups went from a baseline level of moderate to high anxiety to a low anxiety level after the 12-week program. For those who exercised at relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62. The corresponding factor for those who exercised at higher intensity was 4.88. Participants had no knowledge of the physical training or counseling people outside their own group were receiving.

“There was a significant intensity trend for improvement — that is, the more intensely they exercised, the more their anxiety symptoms improved,” states Malin Henriksson, doctoral student at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, specialist in general medicine in the Halland Region, and the study’s first author.

Importance of Strenuous Exercise

Previous studies of physical exercise in depression have shown clear symptom improvements. However, a clear picture of how people with anxiety are affected by exercise has been lacking up to now. The present study is described as one of the largest to date.

Both treatment groups had 60-minute training sessions three times a week, under a physical therapist’s guidance. The sessions included both cardio (aerobic) and strength training. A warmup was followed by circle training around 12 stations for 45 minutes, and sessions ended with cooldown and stretching.

Members of the group that exercised at a moderate level were intended to reach some 60 percent of their maximum heart rate — a degree of exertion rated as light or moderate. In the group that trained more intensively, the aim was to attain 75 percent of maximum heart rate, and this degree of exertion was perceived as high.

The levels were regularly validated using the Borg scale, an established rating scale for perceived physical exertion, and confirmed with heart rate monitors.

New, Simple Treatments Needed

Today’s standard treatments for anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotropic drugs. However, these drugs commonly have side effects, and patients with anxiety disorders frequently do not respond to medical treatment. Long waiting times for CBT can also worsen the prognosis.

The present study was led by Maria Aberg, associate professor at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy, specialist in general medicine in Region Västra Götaland’s primary healthcare organization, and corresponding author.

“Doctors in primary care need treatments that are individualized, have few side effects, and are easy to prescribe. The model involving 12 weeks of physical training, regardless of intensity, represents an effective treatment that should be made available in primary health care more often for people with anxiety issues,” Åberg says.

What Are The Benefits Of Prenatal Exercise? And Why You Must Do It?

As soon as you hear the impending pregnancy good news, the topmost suggestion received from people is to take care of yourself and get proper rest. Well, it’s not entirely wrong because you must take proper care of yourself during all trimesters of your pregnancy, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay inactive all day.

Working out can actually prove to be really helpful during and after the pregnancy. We all know exercising daily is good for our health and a pre-natal workout is just as important. Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits, and you can find pre and post natal personal training programs focused on exercises best suited for you.

Until and unless your doctor has forbidden you from any kind of physical activity, it is always good to consider working out for at least 20-30 minutes every day. It is not only helpful in maintaining a proper posture, but it is beneficial post pregnancy too. For many years, there has been a myth that working out during pregnancy may result in complications during the pregnancy. However, researchers have turned down this theory. Pre-natal exercises are good for the baby as well as for the mother but make sure to do it carefully and preferably under supervision.

Here are some of the major benefits that you can reap from pre and postnatal training sessions.

Improve energy levels

No doubt pregnancy can drain your energy levels. However, working out every day can prove to be really beneficial for boosting up your energy levels and helping to increase energy throughout the day. Prenatal exercises improve your cardiovascular system this way you don’t feel tired very often. You can do your daily routine tasks without easily getting tired or drained.

Helps you getting better sleep

During pregnancy, most women can experience sleepless night, uneasy sleeping, and difficulty in finding the right position to sleep. By involving yourself in physical activities and exercises you are bound to sleep early. Exercising can be tiresome especially for pregnant women this helps you in getting better sleep at night.

Lower pregnancy-related risks

According to research done in 2017, women who exercise regularly during pregnancy are less likable to have risks that come with gestational diabetes. Moreover, you can surely avoid a C-section by staying active during pregnancy. Staying active and exercising during the pregnancy can fairly reduce the chances of undergoing a C-section. Cesarean delivery needs more aftercare and the recovery time is also more as compared to a normal delivery. Pre-natal exercises can definitely be very beneficial for you to avoid some of the complications during the pregnancy.

Lesser weight gain

We all know that losing pregnancy weight is not that easy in fact it can be quite stubborn. Women who exercise during pregnancy do not tend to gain a lot of weight. But this does not mean that you won’t gain weight however weight gain in inactive pregnant women is higher. Regular exercising helps in building muscles and burning fat, and as a result, you do not gain excessive weight which is very difficult to lose after the pregnancy.

Quick post-delivery recovery

Staying active and working out during the pregnancy and exercising will be beneficial for you during the pregnancy but will also help in faster recovery after the delivery. When you perform exercises during the pregnancy you are improving your fitness levels. As a result, you are able to recover faster. A study done in 2012 reveals that women who worked out or participated in some kind of physical activity during the pregnancy recovered faster post the delivery.

Uplifts Mood

Mood swings are very common during the pregnancy; in fact, pregnant women are more prone to depression, moreover, one in two pregnant women report some kind of depressed and anxious behavior during the pregnancy. This is very common and you can do a lot to stay away from depression during the most memorable time of your life. Many women notice a change in their moods after exercising. A prenatal workout is one of the best ways to stay fit and keep yourself away from pregnancy-related anxiety and depression as exercising keeps you busy and on the run.

Healthy baby

Pregnant women who involve in moderate exercising since the beginning of their trimester deliver healthier baby. In fact, mothers who indulge in prenatal exercises tend to have quicker mid-trimester growth rate, the baby is also nourished than those pregnant women who have a sedentary lifestyle. So it is always a good choice to work out and stay active during the pregnancy.

There are a number of benefits that pregnant women can reap from indulging in prenatal exercises. All in all, it is very beneficial for the baby and the mother in particular. However, if it is your first pregnancy make sure you are working under the supervision and also ask your doctor prior to deciding to workout daily. Until and unless there are some complications involved in the pregnancy medium intensity workout, it is always a good choice along with staying active make sure to have a balanced diet.

Signs That Show Your Workout Is Not Enough

If you’re not getting any result after spending a lot of time in the gym, you need to check your fitness routine thoroughly and try to find out the reason that is mainly responsible for the delay. Let us discuss some important signs that show why your workout is not enough:

Despite The Hard Work Out You Don’t Sweat

After doing a set of exercises, you need to take a rest and let your sweat out of your body. Your body should break a sweat after a set of squats or some yoga poses, if not then there’s something went wrong during the exercise.

You Are Still Inflexible After Your Workouts

Maybe you are doing the workouts in a regular manner, but one thing you need to keep in your mind that the workouts relate with your body but not your mind. It’s all about how fast you’re able to move your body while doing the exercise because that only brings you the flexibility in your body. Try to move your body as fast as your mind goes so that your body and mind can run parallel and you feel flexible after some days of workouts. You can take proteins to increase your stamina level.

You Are Not Losing Any Weight

If you’re unable to burn your fat or not losing weight after the workouts, you need to check your diet routine and if necessary, make some changes in it. If your body composition is not getting changed after the workouts, it means you’re not doing it in the way it should be. Add some weights or do the workouts in a high intensity rather than the previous so that you can able to build your muscles and burn fat. Rowing machine workout gives you a full-body workout and maximizes your calorie burn. 

You Feel Like Doing Some More Workouts At The End

After the regular session of exercise, if you feel like doing some more workouts at the end, we suggest just go for it as it will help you to determine your saturation period. Add some free weights just like 2 to 4 pounds and try beyond your comfort level as it will help you to burn more calories and brings you the results faster. Don’t let yourself down if you’re unable to do more workouts, just keep trying all the time and one day you will find yourself comfortable doing some more pushups or squats.

Your Body Doesn’t Feel Sore The Next Day

It is quite natural to feel a little sore after 24 hours from your last workout session. If it is not happening to you then probable chances are that your workout was not up to that mark to stimulate those muscles. Some microscopic damage occurs to our muscles when we do some hard work or regular workouts. The muscles then try to repair and adapt themselves and grow stronger that will lead you to undergo a little discomfort.

You Are Not Getting Better At The Exercises Even After Regular Workouts

You might be doing something wrong during your regular exercise like adopting a bad posture or holding your body in a single position for a long time that will create a bad impact on the output. Trust yourself not your ego and keep trying to do more workouts with continuous body movement and lifting of knees properly. There is no doubt that you will get better results if you’re exercising in a proper manner on a daily basis. Try to maintain good postures or follow your gym instructor for the better output.

The best you can do is stick to a regular fitness routine of workout and after a month or fortnightly, check the progress you have made. Men usually gain about say 2 pounds after a month due to the high testosterone levels, while women gain slowly say about a pound a month. So that’s not to say if you don’t see results after a month you should give up. It should be a slow progression if you’re doing it the right way, but a progression nonetheless.

Passion of Parents in Youth Sports

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Parents really love to involve their kids in competitive sports.  Sometimes too much.

Sports is an ingrained part of the American landscape. It is so much a part of our daily lives that most people cannot imagine life without watching or playing on a daily basis.

A passion for sports is instilled in most kids from an early age. In my family, it was not so much. My mother took me out of baseball in kindergarten because the practices were too late at night. From that, my mother later extrapolated that it was somehow her fault that I didn’t become any good at baseball and, therefore, could not make millions of dollars. For her comfort, it can be noted that I never turned out good at any other sport either and made not a single cent as an athlete.

The Anomaly and The Norm

The anomaly of my situation was that my mother didn’t encourage my participation in sports. It is quite normal that parents want their kids participating in sports. They encourage it. Indeed, that translates into a majority of kids participating. A detailed article on data of youth sports, shows that 75% of boys and 69% of girls play.

For a larger estimate, thirty to forty-five million kids are involved in some sport and parents’ push to have their kids involved seems fueled by at least a little bit of grandeur and hope for the future. There are any number of articles already written about the nature of crazed parents pushing their kids to excel on the field.

Sometimes, parents and coaches push kids too far.

While encouragement and praise are natural coaching strategies, and excelling at the craft is mostly the point, there are still a lot of physical and psychological development concerns. Just the right balance needs to be considered from a coaching standpoint. That coaching should probably concern a more diverse life beyond sports, which considers health and well-being.

There are great ambitions that children and elders have and a good deal of growth that comes from athletic experiences. The encouragement is a positive, but the desire and success are the child’s own and can only be measured by their own standards. There is certainly a lot at stake. However, a wise gambler would know that the odds of failure far outweigh the opportunity for success.

My situation was also the norm because no kids are likely to grow up to make any money from sports, much less millions. Even the kids that grow up into excellent athletes also need a lot of fortuitous bounces to get anywhere in the business.

An NCAA chart outlines a picture of the chances that any given child will make it big. To be sure, it’s extremely hard to make it in sports. Most kids that play youth sports never end up playing high school sports. Then, very few high school athletes go on to play in college and very few of those make it professionally.

As the chart shows, with over 1,000,000 participants, football is by far the most common high school sport. Of those, 6.5% go on to play college football. Of those, 1.6% get drafted by an NFL team. For the best odds, baseball and hockey players are considerably better bets to make it to professional ranks than basketball, soccer and football. Still, the chances are pretty miniscule. About half of one percent of high school baseball players get drafted by major league teams. And most draft picks never see a major league field much less a multimillion dollar contract.

What is the cost?

There is a cost to every decision in life, particularly those that don’t pan out into big paydays. So, what are some of those risks?

A portrait of one slice of the American life shows a family who invests most of their time and resources in their kids’ athletics, driving the billion dollar youth sports industry, just for the hope that they become one of the five to ten percent that will go on to play varsity sports. At best, the parents are hopeful their children will learn great lessons from their experiences.

It is certainly true that people learn well from adversity. With only one winner, it would appear there is a lot of adversity in competitive sports. That may be a great learning experience, but are the kids having fun?  In one report, 84% wish they had more fun and 31% wish adults weren’t watching and putting pressure on them. This all seems to lead to the 70% attrition rate.

That’s not even the dark side. The top end of the spectrum isn’t terribly rosy, but what about the opposite end?

About three million children go to the emergency room every year from playing sports. Another five million are treated for minor injuries. So, while it is about a .01% chance any given child will wind up with a decent payday from sports, there is pretty close to a 100% chance they will get hurt.

The emergency room is not a great place to end up for kids in sports.

In October, a NYC teenager died after a collision in a soccer game. Eleven kids died playing high school football in 2015. While death and disability is fairly rare, they are no less than the odds of making it big. Moreover, minor injuries are not exactly minor.  

Concussions are easy to sustain and common among young athletes. They result in poor academic performance, attendance and the overall ability to learn. The younger a person is, the greater the issues surrounding head injuries. Also, the lifetime consequences of chronic pain result in treatments which create an entirely different array of problems, for example juvenile arthritis affects over 300,000 children. The magnitude of a future life of headaches and chiropractic visits is best realized by medical professionals. If nothing else, there are many more jobs created in the medical and insurance fields by more people getting and staying hurt.

There are endless untold complications from playing youth sports that go along with the billions of dollars spent on keeping kids playing.

Hedging Bets

I don’t mean to bash sports. There is no doubt to the growth opportunities. At the same time, I would argue that most of those lessons can be learned in other avenues, but there still is a redeeming value to sports. The idea of victory gives people hope and the execution of a game plan brings excitement.

The concept of sports doesn’t necessarily have to include the traditional big money sports. Light exercise is even better than high energy or contact sports. Combining exercise with academics helps students learn. For healing sake, many sport-like games can take the place of sports. For example, foosball is a great tool used in rehabilitation for injuries.

The point really comes down to, parents need to understand that not everyone can make it big in the same industry already flooded with talent. Moreover, kids take time to develop. Rushing into a sport they are not ready for can only risk injury and hinder development in other age appropriate areas. Somehow, many parents lose sight of the realities and try to live their own lost dreams vicariously through their children’s success.

Kids need to grow up according to their own dreams and desires. Success only comes from a person’s own initiative. It’s a hard balance. The younger start a person gets in life, the better they will typically be at something. On the other hand, it takes time to discover true interests.

Diversity always seems to be the key. The more options a kid has, the better.  

All the evidence in the world suggests kids that play sports have the best chance for success and the least chance for injuries when playing multiple sports. Likewise, a kid’s most well-roundedness will come not from being entirely immersed in sports, but also other outlets. I shudder to think however, what most parents who push their kids in athletics would think of them going into stage acting. The glory and bragging rights just wouldn’t be the same for those parents.

What Doctors Don’t Tell Older Adults About Depression

Depression is a serious and debilitating condition for older adults aged 65 years and older. Depression not only exacerbates physical health conditions, but it also reduces quality of life and is a risk factor for suicide and other behavioral health problems such as substance use. There are many evidence-based treatment approaches to treat depression in older adults; however, the one of the most common forms of treatment in primary care settings and nursing homes is psychotropic medication. Psychotropic medication has been show to reduce depression symptoms in older adults, but these medications also have some potentially serious and life threatening side effects that older adults are more vulnerable to than younger age groups.

512px-Folk_dancesWhy are older adults being prescribed medication as the first response to depression when alternative therapies such as physical activity have also been show to reduce depression symptoms in older adults? Is depression treatment really as simple as exercising and encouraging active older adults to maintain current levels of activity?

Physical activity such as yoga, strength training, swimming, and tai chi have consistently been shown to lower depression severity in older adults, not to mention improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and functional health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and cognitive decline.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention made the following exercise recommendations for adults aged 65 years or older, who are fit, and have no limiting health conditions. The following are three weekly exercise options for older adults aged 65 years and older.

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
  • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
  • An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

Social workers and other health care professionals such as primary care physicians, nurses, or physical therapists who work with older adults first need to know the signs of depression, and if they detect depression symptoms, include physical activity in their treatment plan as a preventative or early intervention.

If we move away from relying on psychotropic medication as the main option for treating depression in older adults, we can encourage alternative treatments that don’t have potentially serious and life threatening side effects but have also been shown to be effective.

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