This week, exercise combats depression, quality sleep helps you live longer and what to watch, listen to and read in the world of fitness culture.
Exercise and Mental Health. A new study from researchers at the University of South Australia has found that physical activity is highly effective at managing depression and should be a mainstay approach to treating it.
The review looked at 1039 trials and over 128,000 participants. It found that exercising for 12 weeks or less was the most effective at reducing mental health symptoms and the largest benefits were seen among people with depression, pregnant and postpartum women, healthy individuals and those diagnosed with HIV or kidney disease.
Higher intensity exercise showed greater improvements for depression and anxiety while short and mid-duration bursts were more effective than longer durations. Lead researcher, Dr. Ben Singh, says that all types of exercise were beneficial and the research shows that “it doesn’t take much for exercise to make a positive change to your mental health.”
More on Sleep & Living Longer. Last week’s newsletter highlighted a study that connected consistent sleep to heart health. A new paper to be presented at an annual conference of the American College of Cardiology on March 6 takes it further, suggesting that young people who have more beneficial sleep habits are incrementally less likely to die early.
The team analyzed data from more than 172,000 people who participated in the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018 and linked participants to the National Death Index records so they could examine the association between individual and combined sleep factors and all-cause and cause-specific mortality.
Different aspects of quality sleep were assessed using a sleep score the researchers created based on answers they collected as part of the survey. Factors of quality sleep were: ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours per night; difficulty falling asleep no more than twice a week; trouble staying asleep no more than twice a week; not using any sleep medication; and feeling well rested after waking up at least five days a week.
The researchers controlled for other factors that might increase the risk of dying including lower socioeconomic status, smoking and drinking alcohol and other medical conditions.
People who had all five favorable sleep factors were 30% less likely to die for any reason, 21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 19% less likely to die from cancer and 40% less likely to die of other causes. Among these individuals, life expectancy was 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women compared with those who had none or only one of the five favorable elements of low-risk sleep.
The model estimated gains in life expectancy starting at age 30 but the authors say it can be used to predict gains at older ages too.
Co-author Frank Qian MD, who will present the paper, adds, “It’s important for younger people to understand that a lot of health behaviors are cumulative over time…and we should be talking about and assessing sleep more often.”
Pele. With Pele’s death late last year, the world lost one of its greatest soccer players. This 2021 documentary looks at the Brazilian star’s remarkable life as he rises from breakthrough talent to national hero. Pele is streaming on Netflix.
The Art of Move. Dr. William Rajbar, along with cohost Anthony Manuele, cover strength training, biomechanics, and more in this podcast that “seeks to find a ‘grand unified theory’ of human movement and training.”
When Exercising Through Pain Helps Make It Better. Isobel Whitcomb explores how movement can help us tap into an “inner pharmacy” that can be more effective than pills in this installment of Slate’s “GoodFit” column.