People who commute — walking or cycling — through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, according to a new study.
Natural environments included all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.
“Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with the life in urban environments. Urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.
For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.
The findings showed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.
This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said.
“From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments,” said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.
“Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health.” (IANS)
Being in close proximity 24×7 due to restricted movement outside may create strain in relationships. Experts believe that just as the Coronavirus pandemic increased divorce rates in China and the rest of the world, it seems like India, too, could face this psychosocial crisis after months of lockdown.
Rahul Krishnan, co-founder of Bold Care, a digital men’s wellness platform, says that couples should utilise this time to rejuvenate themselves and their relationships. He suggests a few ways how couples can make the most of this period.
Find Balance In Your Relationship
The greatest friction during lockdown is when one partner or both the persons are anxious. The balance of power shifts when you’re both working from home. Remember to be patient and accommodating. To keep things pleasant in the long term, create a work schedule. During working hours, treat your partner just like you would treat your colleagues. When work hours are over, remember you’re at home, with your loved ones. Being able to distinguish your role through the day is a habit formation that goes a long way in strengthening relationships.
Make Time For Yourself
Being in constant contact with the same person for days on end can lead to frustration and irritation – for both of you! Making time for yourself to be alone is important, and it helps you to decompress and process your emotions. Take a little longer with your bath and grooming. Read a new book, re-read old favourites, or listen to a podcast. Spending time alone could be as simple as lying down, with no compulsion to make small talk.
Exercise is a good way to get some alone time while also keeping yourself in shape. The endorphin rush that your body experiences during exercise is a great mood booster. Stretches and floor exercises are a good way to start. If you are missing your gym sessions, try exercises that use your own body weight such as pushups, pullups, squats and planks. Household items such as bags of flour, backpacks and water bottles can substitute weights. If you have space, there are plenty of dance exercise routines that you can try.
Reconnect With Your Partner
The lockdown opens up the possibilities for greater intimacy. Take this opportunity to reconnect with your partner. Unplug social media for a while and talk to each other, and check in with your partner’s feelings and fears. Make a work-at-home schedule so that you can spend more time together.
Board games are great at bringing people together. Some people might enjoy the mental intricacies of Chess and Scrabble. Others prefer the simplicity of Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, or Carrom that still hold their appeal across generations.
Lend A Helping Hand
This is the best time to collaborate on chores around the house and help each other out. Be willing to try out new tasks to the best of your abilities, and be mindful of what needs to be completed. Even a small attempt on your part goes a long way in easing both your workloads, and doing chores together can become a productive way to spend quality time.
Living In A Big Family
Larger families in lockdown together have made it difficult for couples to find their own space. If possible, go out for a short walk together and make grocery shopping a couple’s activity. Use your phone to keep personal conversations going and try out new ways to be intimate.
Mend Your Relationship
For couples in strained relationships, this lockdown is a good time to talk things out. Social distancing sparks an “us against the virus” instinct which is great for relationships. Focus on getting through this with your own and your partner’s mental and physical health intact. Co-existing, being kind, and extending compassion can heal rifts. If you have children, spend time doing simple activities that they enjoy. Make time to talk about their feelings and troubles and remember to give them their own space and privacy.
Staying Connected To Family
Scheduled video calls can make everyone feel connected easily. Keep in touch through messages for the rest of the time. But also remember that if you feel stressed, you’re allowed to take a break from social media. Mute notifications on apps when you need some peace and quiet, and change your status to indicate that you’re taking time off. Always keep your phone available in case of emergencies.
Many couples have been separated and stuck in different cities. A situation like this is always difficult and especially more stressful in these tough times. This is a good time to recreate the initial days of your relationship with intimate texts and long phone calls. Distance gives us newer perspectives and new opportunities to explore intimacy. Analyse your role in your relationships and see how you can better meet your partner’s needs and expectations, and they yours. (IANS)
Actress Deepika Padukone says the past several weeks have not only been “exceptionally unusual”, but also very difficult, with everyone facing the fear of uncertainty about the future. To share how she is nurturing her mental health amidst the pandemic, the actress has joined hands with Instagram for an initiative titled, ‘Wellness Guide’, as part of its global Mental Health Awareness month.
“I am sure we all agree that the past several weeks have not only been exceptionally unusual but also very difficult; uncertainty about the future, loss of livelihoods, and the inability to be around family and loved ones, are just a few of the challenges facing us,” Deepika said.
adding, “And situations such as these often lead to or aggravate mental illness. I look forward to sharing with all of you some of the things I’ve been doing over the past several weeks to nurture my mental health, and I hope you find them useful too.”
The ‘Wellness Guide’ keeps people inspired during these tough times and is a new way to easily discover recommendations, tips and other content from your favourite creators, public figures, organisations and publishers on the social networking platform.
With people struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ‘Guides’ will first be focused on wellness and mental health content. Globally, Instagram is enabling public figures and creators to connect with expert organisations to share resources during this time, and for India, it is Deepika, along with The Live Laugh Love Foundation, that has curated this guide.
“We want to support their mental well-being by amplifying mental health resources and empowering creators to create inspiring, wellness related content. The Wellness Guide is a step in that direction,” said Ankhi Das, Director, Public Policy, Facebook — India, South and Central Asia. (IANS)
People who walk, cycle and travel by train to work are at reduced risk of early death or illness compared with those who commute by car, according to a new study.
For the findings, published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, the researchers conducted a study on more than 300,000 commuters in England and Wales. They used census data to track the same people for up to 25 years, between 1991-2016. The researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge in the UK, suggest increased walking and cycling post-lockdown may reduce deaths from heart disease and cancer.
“As large numbers of people begin to return to work as the COVID-19 lockdown eases, it is a good time for everyone to rethink their transport choices,” said study researcher Dr Richard Patterson from the University of Cambridge.
The research team found that compared with those who drove, those who cycled to work had a 20 per cent reduced rate of early death, 24 per cent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease during the study period, a 16 per cent reduced rate of death from cancer, and an 11 per cent reduced rate of a cancer diagnosis.
Walking to work was associated with a seven per cent reduced rate in cancer diagnosis, compared to driving. The team explain that associations between walking and other outcomes, such as rates of death from cancer and heart disease, were less certain.
One potential reason for this is people who walk to work are, on average, in less affluent occupations than people who drive to work, and more likely to have underlying health conditions which could not be fully accounted for.
The research also revealed that compared with those who drove to work, rail commuters had a 10 per cent reduced rate of early death, a 20 per cent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 12 per cent reduced rate of cancer diagnosis.
This is likely due to them walking or cycling to transit points, although rail commuters also tend to be more affluent and less likely to have other underlying conditions.”With severe and prolonged limits in public transport capacity likely, switching to private car use would be disastrous for our health and the environment,” Patterson said.”Encouraging more people to walk and cycle will help limit the longer-term consequences of the pandemic,” Patterson wrote. (IANS)