Monday, July 3, 2017

The Exercise Cure

It may not be a panacea, but exercise should be an integral part of everyone’s routines. No one wants to claim that it can cure everything, but considering how doggedly out culture clings to its faith in therapy, it’s useful to emphasize the power of exercise. For many of the issues we class as depression, it seems to be better even than taking a pill.

Of course, exercise is work. You need to apply yourself to it, over time. For those who believe in mind-over-matter and who imagine that the only way to make any real changes is to change your mind, exercise takes it from the opposite direction. You do not need to understand anything about your infantile traumas to be helped by exercise.

Anyway, the Wall Street Journal has more good new about exercise:

Exercise has been shown to protect against diabetes, stroke and several other diseases and to improve our moods.

But does it also make us more likely to engage in other activities? Do people who exercise tend to have better social lives or achieve more of their goals?

The answer appears to be yes, according to a study that has been accepted for publication in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Exercise not only makes us feel more positive, the study found, but it also increases the likelihood that we’ll do more positive things.

What were the results of the study:

On a given day, students who exercised also tended to participate in more social and achievement activities than on days when they didn’t exercise, the study found, and they engaged in activities that tended to matter to them more.

In addition, exercise on one day predicted positive social activity on the next day, but not achievement activity.

The researchers also found that positive social and achievement activities on one day didn’t predict exercise on the next day.

The results support an approach to treating depression called behavioral activation.

Exercise will not tell you the meaning of life, but it will certainly enhance yours.

“When we become depressed or whatever it is we’re going through, we say to ourselves that we’ll get out when we feel better,” says Kevin Young, the study’s lead author, who is completing his doctorate in clinical psychology at George Mason University. “Unfortunately, what we also see is that we do not feel better until we get out.”

Mr. Young, who will be a clinical psychologist, adds, “We try and help someone start sprinkling activities again into their lives. That will result in improvement in mood, and [positive] emotion will follow.”

You have a problem with that?

1 comment:

Ares Olympus said...

A few years ago I heard my health insurance company would reimburse me for like $25/month for health club membership, on the condition that I visited it some number of times I don't remember, perhaps 15-20 days/month.

The problem with this approach to the "exercise cure" is you spent more time sitting in stop and go traffic than you'll probably spend on the treadmill, pool or weight machines.

A much simpler routine is to bike to work, or if that's too far, drive to a free park and ride, and bike the rest of the way, very time efficient, especially if your employer has a free shower room. And biking in and out of downtown really is often faster than driving.

My employer actually offered either free parking or free bus card charging, so I take the second option, and mix biking, running and busing through out the week.

City life can be good, if you can escape the curse of the car.