One more awesome article about the all the amazing benefits of fitting exercise into your day. It is always great to spend time at the gym, but more and more studies are showing that quick exercise breaks for even 10 minutes at a time are making great differences in people’s lives too. Keep it in mind when you take your work breaks or a commercial is on and if you are already adding more exercise to your day, keep it up!
Light Exercise Beats the Couch for Fighting Fatigue and the “Blahs”
A team of researchers at the University of Georgia found that regular, low-intensity workouts — such as a leisurely stroll — boosted participants’ energy levels by 20%, as measured by a commonly used health survey. Light workouts fought fatigue even more, decreasing feelings of fatigue by 65% The study was published in Psychotherapy and Psychomatics.
Lead author Tim Puetz, PhD, and a team including Patrick O’Connor, director of the university’s Exercise Psychology Laboratory, recruited 36 sedentary but otherwise healthy individuals who reported persistent feelings of fatigue. The researchers estimated that around 25% of the general population experiences such fatigue.
The participants were divided into three groups: One group rode a stationary bike at a “moderately intense” level three times a week for six weeks. A second group rode the bike the same amount, but at a more leisurely pace. A third group did no exercise. Every week, participants rated how energetic and how tired they felt.
Results showed that the volunteers in both exercising groups increased their energy levels by 20% over their couch-potato counterparts and significantly decreased feelings of fatigue.
“Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out — especially when we are already feeling fatigued,” says Puetz. “However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy — particularly in sedentary individuals.”
The research also added to the growing evidence supporting the psychological benefits of exercise. “Exercise traditionally has been associated with physical health, but we are quickly learning that exercise has a more holistic effect on the human body and includes effects on psychological health,” Puetz explains. “What this means is that in every workout, a single step is not just a step closer to a healthier body, but also to a healthier mind.”
IMPROVEMENTS TO both body and mind — particularly for post-menopausal women — were echoed in a study by researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. Lead author Timothy Church, MD, and colleagues analyzed data from the Dose Response to Exercise in Postmenopausal Women (DREW) study. They presented their findings at the American Heart Association‘s Conference on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism.
The study concluded that as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day improved not only metabolism and aerobic capacity — which the DREW study was designed to assess — but also significantly enhanced the subjects’ quality of life. Dr. Church also is the author of a new book, Move Yourself: The Cooper Clinic Guide to All the Healing Benefits of Exercise (Even a Little!) (Wiley, $24.95), which addresses exercise and quality of life.
The study involved 464 sedentary, overweight postmenopausal women who were assigned to four exercise categories — no exercise at all or 70, 135 and 190 minutes of exercise per week — and who were supervised during their workouts on treadmills and stationary bikes. (The National Institutes of Health recommends 150 minutes per week of exercise.)
All the exercise groups lost modest amounts of weight, between three and four pounds. But that was only part of the benefit from getting going.
Using the Medical Outcomes Short Form-36 questionnaire — which assesses eight areas of mental and physical function on a 100-point scale — the Pennington researchers found that the subjects’ scores on mental outlook, sociability and vitality rose up to eight points over six months, a significant improvement.
Men and younger folks also should benefit from getting up and moving, the researchers say. While Dr. Church notes that studying a group that included only overweight, postmenopausal women was a limitation, he adds, “We assume that the results wouldn’t be any different in any other group.”
TO LEARN MORE: Psychotherapy and Psychomatics, February 2008; abstract at <dx.doi.org/10.1159/000116610>. National Institutes of Health-Exercise and Physical Fitness, <health.nih.gov/result.asp/245/34>.
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 2008 Jun; 26(4)
Item Number: 2009941105