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A leisurely walk can boost mood, psychological well-being

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Regular exercise is considered key for improving and maintaining physical health. When it comes to psychological health, however, new research suggests that you do not need to hit the gym in order to reap the rewards.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Mansfield found that simply going for a leisurely walk can improve mood and boost subjective well-being, particularly for adults who are normally sedentary.

Leisure walk for mental healthLead study author Gregory Panza, of the Department of Kinesiology at UConn, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of Health Psychology.

While a number of studies have shown that physical activity can benefit psychological health, Panza and team note that it remains unclear how the intensity of physical activity impacts subjective well-being, defined as a person’s own evaluation of their lives.

The researchers decided to investigate this association further with their new study, which included 419 healthy, middle-aged adults.

The physical activity of each adult was monitored over 4 days using accelerometers, which participants wore on their hips.

Additionally, subjects completed questionnaires detailing their daily exercise routines, psychological well-being, level of depression, whether they experienced pain and its severity, as well as the extent to which pain disrupted their day-to-day activities.

Light, moderate activity led to greatest improvements in well-being

The researchers found that adults who were sedentary had the lowest levels of subjective well-being and the highest levels of depression, which indicates that lack of physical activity is detrimental to psychological health.

Overall, the team found that people who engaged in physical activity demonstrated greater subjective well-being. However, the benefits of physical activity were found to vary by intensity.

Light-intensity activity, for example, was associated with greater psychological well-being and lower depression, while moderate-intensity activity was linked to higher psychological well-being and reduced pain severity.

Light-intensity activity was defined by the study as a leisurely walk that does not noticeably raise heart rate, breathing, or sweating. Moderate-intensity activity was defined as walking a mile in 15 to 20 minutes, with a slight increase in heart rate, breathing, and sweating.

Notably, the study results revealed that sedentary adults who increased their exercise levels to light or moderate activity demonstrated the greatest increases in subjective well-being.

However, vigorous-intensity activity – defined as jogging or briskly walking a mile in 13 minutes, with very noticeable increases in heart rate, breathing, and sweating – appeared to have no impact on subjective well-being. However, the researchers say that this is not necessarily a bad finding.

“Recent studies had suggested a slightly unsettling link between vigorous activity and subjective well-being,” says study co-author Beth Taylor, associate professor of kinesiology at UConn. “We did not find this in the current study, which is reassuring to individuals who enjoy vigorous activity and may be worried about negative effects.”

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Are we conditioned by dreams for the next day behavior in our relationships?

Jamal Hassan

Approved ProvenTherapist

We have got lot of materials since the day of Sigmund Freud and his dream analysis he wrote till his last days. Many of his interpretations are still holding water tight and still many fallen by the way side. We read many articles about why do we dream and what actually brain or unconscious mind does with dreams. Do they do self repairing or housekeeping or saving the memory space akin to disk defragmentation and setting the house in order!!??

sigmundMost of them are true too. May be the brain does the brain Gymming for itself for the next   active day as it feels little leisurely!!  Hence the dreams are practised as rehearsal and training sessions!!!. Contrary to earlier theoretical belief that we dream during REM sleep scientists found and proved that during NREM sleep too we dream. Now additional insight was provided by Prof . Patrick McNamara, added in his latest writings. He found the clear mood difference between REM dreams and NREM dreams. REM status is more likely like our wakeful status and depicts greater number of aggressive social behavior and NREM status is associated with polite behaviors which are socially acceptable in real life too. So as we recall the dreams the brain chemicals reach the same compositions and we are likely to exhibit the patterns of behavior suitable or matching with the status of our mind. In brief he concludes that our dreams shape our behavior but in which channel they are pipelined and manifested in our broader neural network is yet unknown. Definitely our limbic system and amygdale are the two major parts of brain taking part in shaping our emotions.

Another stalwart Dr.Dylan Selterman of University of Maryland held a longitudinal research to come out with more facts that from his laboratory work (DREAM Lab as he named it Dreams, Relationships, Emotions, Attachments and Morality Lab). He conducted the research on 61 undergraduates (aged between 17 and 42 including 47 women) for the first in research and came out with his findings. Indeed bad dreams shaped their behavior in their couple lives like jealous dreams, having sex with their partners pushed them low in their wakeful day. And interestingly it was also found the dream content were nothing related to the previous evening or the day. (But in my clinical observation of the children and adults from their dream scores (dialogues) as recorded verbatim by parents present more connection to their play or school environment dialogue in the case of children and household talks in the case of adults). He also agrees with the explanation by Prof McNamara that the state of chemicals reached at brain by the recalling of the dream shapes the mood and behavior of the recaller. (If he does not recall the dream experience??  Haha…He may save the day in a non eventful way as supported in the research. Even then the effect of dreaming is there. Brain chemicals sometime take whole 24 hours to be neutralized in the Circadian rhythm). The research team concludes “The findings support the idea that dreams are an important component of human social life, the scientific examination of which may provide unique insight into close relationship processes.”

We are fast moving from the redundant days of old theories to latest research supported findings about dreams, a special area of human psychology and behavior.  As the dreams have a determinant role in social behavior on the following day we shall update our knowledge with them carefully into our practice on relationship counseling. Your time and talk + the client time and talk = Success of the session! Remember this simple equation! Good luck fellows!

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Refer the sleep hygiene handout by Dr. MG Lazarus

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