Physical activity and mental wellness

DR YANSIE ROLSTON Monday, August 21 2017

I missed out on Carnival 2017 and ended up with a serious tabanca, which was made worse by friends teasing me with party tickets, knowing full well that I was not in Trinidad and unable to attend the events. They have continued the teasing and are sending me invitations to pre-Carnival 2018 events, including soca fitness workouts.

We are often told of the great benefits of regular exercise on physical health and as part of a weight loss plan, and according to the National Health Service (NHS) it’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:
• up to a 35 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
• up to a 50 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes
• up to a 50 per cent lower risk of colon cancer
• up to a 20 per cent lower risk of breast cancer
• a 30 per cent lower risk of early death
• up to an 83 per cent lower risk of osteoarthritis
• up to a 68 per cent lower risk of hip fracture
• a 30 per cent lower risk of falls (among older adults)
• up to a 30 per cent lower risk of depression
• up to a 30 per cent lower risk of dementia
But not enough is said about its mental health benefits. We are increasingly having to cope with stressful situations and circumstances that affect social and psychological wellness such as exams, work place dynamics, relationship breakdowns, unrealistic targets and deadlines, financial worries, and the list goes on and on. So, given the amount of stressors in life, it is well worth reiterating that physical activities can positively impact on emotional and mental health and should therefore be embraced as part of overall health and wellbeing plan.

There is an abundance of research on physical activities and its impact on mental health, and many show that exercise as a behavioural intervention can be as effective as other forms of treatment in addressing the symptoms of depression.

Those who live with depression know that it can cause general malaise and a sense of despondency, low mood and isolation, which makes it even more difficult to motivate oneself to do any physical activity.

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