Facts with Hope
FACT: Today, more than half of the world's population lives in cities, and many people barely ever get a glimpse of green. Other than walking to and from their cars, some people find that they spend less than 15 to 30 minutes a day outside.
HOPE: A 2007 study at the University of Essex in England found that a daily dose of walking outside could be as effective as taking antidepressant drugs for treating mild to moderate depression. After an outdoor walk, 90% reported an increase in self-esteem, 71% experienced decreased levels of depression, and 71% stated they felt less tense. Interestingly, a similar regimen of walking in a crowded shopping mall did not have the same impact. Spending time outdoors also connects us more closely with nature and our Creator.
FACT: Telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of our DNA strands, shorten as we age. Scientists refer to this sign of aging in cells as a sort of “biological clock.”
HOPE: A study published in Circulation suggested that vigorous exercise may partially reverse aging inside the cells at the genetic level. In middle-aged long-time runners, there was less shortening of the telomeres, compared to their sedentary counterparts. In fact, the telomeres of these runners appeared nearly as “young” as those of runners in their twenties. Scientists speculate that any vigorous—maybe even moderate—exercise done over the long term may help keep genes young.
FACT: Physical activity is a key to successful management of type 2 diabetes. However, “lack of time” is often cited as a barrier to being physically active.
HOPE: In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, sedentary participants performed the following 10-minute workout three times a week: 1) a five-minute warm-up on a stationary bicycle, 2) two 20-second “all-out” cycling sprints, followed by 3) a five-minute cool down of slow pedaling on the stationary bicycle. After six weeks, there was a decrease in blood sugar and insulin levels in male participants. Although more is better when it comes to exercise and its metabolic, cardiovascular, muscular and psychological benefits, even small amounts have positive effects on our health.
FACT: The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state recommend that adults do 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (or an equivalent combination) weekly.
HOPE: In a Canadian study focusing on abdominally obese, inactive adults, researchers found that even random, short-duration (less than 10 minutes), moderate-intensity (such as walking up stairs) physical activity was significantly associated with cardiorespiratory fitness. This may be more feasible and enjoyable for inactive individuals who are looking to start an exercise program but feel that 30 minutes of physical activity at one time is overwhelming.
- Mind: (2007) Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health. Mind week report. Mind: London. Outdoor versus indoor exercise, figures based on 20 participants
- Werner, C., Furster, T., Widmann, T., Poss, J., Roggia, C., Hanhoun, M., et. al. (2009). Physical exercise prevents cellular senescence in circulating leukocytes and in the vessel wall. Circulation, 120, 2438-2447.
- Metcalfe, R. s., Babrai, J. A., Fawkner, S. G. & Vollaard, N. B. (2011). Towards the minimal amount of exercise for improving metabolic health: Beneficial effects of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training. European Journal of Applied Physiology,
- At-A-Glance: A Fact Sheet for Professionals. (2008, October 17). Health.gov | Your Portal to Health Information from the U.S. Government. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/fac
- Ross, R. & McGuire, K. A. (2011). Incidental physical activity is positively associated with cardiorespiratory fitness. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercse, 43(11), 2189-2194.