Over exercising or exercising addiction does more harm than good. Engaging in exercises such as cycling, aerobics and gymming for more than three hours a day can worsen mental health than not exercising at all, a study has found.
The study, published in journal The Lancet Psychiatry, found that people who exercised between three and five times a week had better mental health than people who exercised less or more each week.
Conversely, people doing extreme amounts of exercise might have obsessive characteristics which could place them at greater risk of poor mental health, the researchers said.
“Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case,” said Adam Chekroud, Assistant Professor at Yale University in the US.
“Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90 minute sessions is associated with worse mental health,” he added.
Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and mortality from all causes, but its association with mental health remains unclear.
For the study, the team used data from 1.2 million adults across all 50 US states and included all types of physical activity, ranging from childcare, housework, lawn-mowing and fishing to cycling, going to the gym, running and skiing.
Team sports, cycling, aerobics and going to the gym were associated with the biggest reductions — 22.3 per cent, 21.6 per cent, and 20.1 per cent, respectively.
For people who had previously been diagnosed with depression, exercise was associated with 3.75 fewer days of poor mental health. (IANS)
Meditation worked as well as traditional therapy for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in a small experiment sponsored by the Department of Defense.
One method preferred by the Department of Veterans Affairs is exposure therapy, but it doesn’t work for everyone and many can’t handle what it requires: purposely recalling traumatic events and confronting emotions.
Meditation could be a better choice for some, the researchers said.
Exposure therapy unpopular
The experiment tested meditation against exposure therapy, which involves working with a therapist and gradually letting go of fears triggered by painful memories.
Many vets won’t try exposure therapy or drop out because it’s too difficult, said Thomas Rutledge, the study’s senior author and a Veterans Affairs psychologist in San Diego.
Evidence for meditation “allows us to put more options on the table” with confidence they work, Rutledge said.
The study was published Thursday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.
Follow-up study needed
About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the VA health system. The VA already is using meditation, yoga and similar approaches to supplement traditional therapy with PTSD, said Paula Schnurr, executive director of the VA’s National Center for PTSD.
While the three-month study adds to evidence supporting these lifestyle practices, Schnurr said, more research is needed to learn how long meditation’s benefits last.
“There’s no follow-up in this study,” Schnurr noted, and one therapist did 80 percent of the exposure therapy so the findings hinge largely on one therapist’s skills.
Researchers measured symptoms in about 200 San Diego area veterans randomly assigned to one of three groups. Some learned to meditate. Others got exposure therapy. The third group attended classes where they learned about nutrition and exercise.
All sessions were once a week for 90 minutes.
After three months, 61 percent of the meditation group improved on a standard PTSD assessment, compared to 42 percent of those who got exposure therapy and 32 percent of those who went to classes. When researchers accounted for other factors, meditation was better than the classes and equally effective as exposure therapy.
The researchers defined success as at least a 10-point improvement in scores on a standard symptoms test, given to participants by people who did not know which kind of treatment they’d received. The test measures symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.
PTSD also can be treated with medications or other types of talk therapy. Many of the participants were taking prescribed medicine for PTSD.
Most of the vets were men with combat-related trauma, so it’s not clear whether meditation would be equally effective in women or with other types of trauma.
More interest, styles
There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States. A government survey last year found 14 percent of adults said they had recently meditated, up from 4 percent from a similar survey five years earlier.
There are many styles of meditation. The type taught to vets in the study was transcendental meditation, or TM, which involves thinking of a mantra or sound to settle the mind.
TM was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles in the late 1960s. Some of the study authors are affiliated with a university in Fairfield, Iowa, founded by Maharishi. Their role was to oversee the meditation training.