Life Style

Stay Active!

Stay Active!
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/7/2019 12:25:58 PM IST

 There is so much we can do now and most of it can be done without much movement. Whether it be buying clothes or ordering food, all of it can be done with minimal physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that obesity worldwide has tripled since 1975; in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight and 41 children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese. 

The risk factors associated with physical inactivity are huge and can have an adverse impact on one’s physical as also mental health. In a study conducted by Siddiqui, Lindblad and Bennet (2014), physical inactivity was strongly associated with anxiety and depression among immigrants from the Middle East. Other investigators have highlighted effects of physical inactivity such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression. 

There is empirical evidence to support the stance that exercise and physical activity can delay/prevent the onset of different mental disorders; it has also been seen to show therapeutic effects when used as an additional treatment in mental disorders. 

Several epidemiological studies have found that in adult US population, regular physical activity is associated with markedly decreased prevalence of different mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders and so on. 

In treating individuals with depression, one of the first steps is to introduce a component of physical activity that can be consistently carried out. One theory has proposed that exercise increases the amount of serotonin in the brain; another theory suggests that exercise improves sleep which in turn improves mood. Endorphins (our feel good chemicals) may also play a role, which are often released after a workout. 

There is also evidence to indicate that physical activity has a positive influence on cognitive functioning. Multiple studies found that in adults between the ages of 55-80 years, exercise was associated with improved cognitive functioning. Physical activity has also been used as a component of the intervention strategy in drug dependence; also linked with helping in smoking cessation. 

The manner in which physical activity exerts its influence may be complicated but the evidence cannot be denied. Physical activity need not be restricted to going to the gym or jogging; it can be walking, cycling, dancing, aerobics, zumba, yoga and so on. 

Adopting a consistent regime of physical activity could have a wide range of benefits for all aspects of your health. This is also one of the reasons why the WHO has recommended decreasing screen time for toddlers and increasing play time. 

We live in a world where everything is available to us very easily and most of us live a sedentary life without consciously realizing it. Physical activity need not be something unpleasant and distasteful. 

It is possible for you to enjoy it and eventually form a lifelong habit out of it. To do so, start with any physical activity in a small capacity and gradually increase the time spent on it while being mindful of your body and comfort.  Look at physical activity as an investment, the returns of which you will definitely see in the long run. 

Parvathy Nair, Clinical Psychologist, nairparo@gmail.com

 

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