Stressed? Walk outdoor to boost spirit

Group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being, the findings showed.

stressed Walk outdoor to boost spirit

The researchers found that people who had recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation or unemployment especially saw a mood boost after outdoor group walks.

“Walking is an inexpensive, low-risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster,” said senior study author Sara Warber, an associate professor at the University of Michigan in the US.

“Our findings suggest that something as simple as joining an outdoor walking group may not only improve someone’s daily positive emotions but may also contribute as a non-pharmacological approach to serious conditions like depression,” Warber added.

For the study, the researchers evaluated 1,991 participants from the Walking for Health programme in Britain.

The findings appeared in the journal Ecopsychology.

Source: zee news

Active seniors can lower heart attack risk by doing more, not less

Active elderly people go hill walking in the Trossachs National Park, Scotland. Image shot 04/2010. Exact date unknown.

Maintaining or boosting your physical activity after age 65 can improve your heart’s electrical well-being and lower your risk of heart attack, according to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

In heart monitor recordings taken over five years, researchers found that people who walked more and faster and had more physically active leisure time had fewer irregular heart rhythms and greater heart rate variability than those who were less active.

Heart rate variability is differences in the time between one heartbeat and the next during everyday life.

“These small differences are influenced by the health of the heart and the nervous system that regulates the heart,” said Luisa Soares-Miranda, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the Faculty of Sport at the University of Porto in Portugal. “Early abnormalities in this system are picked up by changes in heart rate variability, and these changes predict the risk of future heart attacks and death.”

The researchers evaluated 24-hour heart monitor recordings of 985 adults (average age 71 at baseline) participating in the community-based Cardiovascular Health Study, a large study of heart disease risk factors in people 65 and older.

During the study, they found:

The more physical activity people engaged in, the better their heart rate variability.
Participants who increased their walking distance or pace during the five years had better heart rate variability than those who reduced how much or how fast they walked.
“Any physical activity is better than none, but maintaining or increasing your activity has added heart benefits as you age,” Soares-Miranda said. “Our results also suggest that these certain beneficial changes that occur may be reduced when physical activity is reduced.”

The researchers calculated that the difference between the highest and lowest levels of physical activity would translate into an estimated 11 percent lower risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac death.

“So if you feel comfortable with your usual physical activity, do not slow down as you get older — try to walk an extra block or walk at a faster pace,” Soares-Miranda said. “If you’re not physically active, it is never too late to start.”

Co-authors are Jacob Sattelmair, Ph.D.; Paulo Chaves, M.D., Ph.D.; Glen Duncan, Ph.D.; David S. Siscovick, M.D., M.P.H.; Phyllis K. Stein, Ph.D.; and Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institute on Aging funded the research.

Source: News room

Just walk a bit to get creative thoughts back

Just walk a bit to get creative thoughts back


Not been able to crack a solution to an office problem or feeling brain-jammed while in the middle of writing a creative plot? Go stroll around to get free-flowing thoughts back.

Taking a simple walk may lead to more creativity than sitting, research says.

“Incorporating physical activity into our lives is not only beneficial for our hearts but our brains as well. This research suggests an easy and productive way to weave it into certain work activities,” explained Marily Oppezzo from Santa Clara University.

Many people claim they do their best thinking when walking. With this study, we finally may be taking a step or two toward discovering why, he added.

To figure this out, Oppezzo and colleague Daniel L. Schwartz from Stanford University’s graduate school of education conducted studies involving 176 people, mostly college students.

They found that those who walked instead of sitting or being pushed in a wheelchair consistently gave more creative responses on tests commonly used to measure creative thinking.

When asked to solve problems with a single answer, however, the walkers fell slightly behind those who responded while sitting.

Of the students tested for creativity while walking, 100 per cent came up with more creative ideas in one experiment.

In other experiments, 95 per cent, 88 per cent and 81 per cent people from walker groups had more creative responses compared with when they were sitting, said the study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

Source: Times of India

walking more is better for your health

People who walk enough to meet or exceed physical activity recommendations may be less likely to die early than those who only walk a little, new research shows.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends adults be physically active for at least two and a half hours per week. Previous research has shown exercising more than that may bring extra benefits.

“An important question left to be answered is how much walking is beneficial,” study author Paul Williams, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, said.

He analyzed data from 42,000 mostly middle-aged people who enrolled in the National Walkers’ Health Study between 1998 and 2001. They had all subscribed to a walking magazine or attended walking events before the study.

Walkers filled out questionnaires about their health and lifestyle, including exercise and eating habits. Williams then used death records to track who in the study was still alive at the end of 2008.

Based on their questionnaire responses, 23 percent of participants didn’t walk enough to meet physical activity guidelines. Another 16 percent met the guidelines, and the rest exceeded them.

Over an average of nine and a half years, 2,448 people died – almost 6 percent.

Compared to people who didn’t meet the guidelines, those who walked more than the basic recommendation had a one-third lower chance of dying during the study period. Those who met but didn’t exceed the recommendation had an 11 percent lower chance.

That was after taking into account other differences between people who walked various amounts, like diet and education levels.

Participants who walked more had a reduced risk of dying from a stroke, diabetes and heart disease, in particular.

Walking provides plenty of health benefits. But it’s important to note that people who walk more may do so because they are healthier and therefore more able to be active, Williams said. So the new study doesn’t prove walking will extend a person’s life.

“There is always the question of the chicken and the egg – whether people who are healthier are able to walk farther or, conversely, whether the longer distance they walk may translate into better health benefits,” Williams told Reuters Health.

Based on the results, he suggested changing current guidelines by bumping up the minimum amount of physical activity to five hours per week and developing a two-tiered recommendation system that encourages people to exercise more than they do currently.

One tier would aim to get people active, and the other to add to the activity people are already doing, Williams said. That would underscore the point that for couch potatoes, starting to exercise is a healthy move – but the benefits don’t stop there.

“Achieving the weekly exercise guidelines is good,” Williams said, “but exceeding them is even better.”

“When it comes to walking, more is obviously better,” María Simón agreed. She is a fitness trainer and national spokesperson for the AHA and was not involved in the new research.

But, Simón said, the current physical activity guidelines are appropriate.

“The AHA has been very clear in specifying that the recommended guidelines are ‘minimum’ requirements to reduce the risk of heart-related diseases and death and has even provided guidelines for increased activity,” she wrote in an emailed comment.

“Nevertheless, I believe the take-home of this and similar studies is a positive one: ‘Move . . . Just get up and move,'” Simón said.

Source:  Zee news

More walking tied to lower stroke risk among men

Older men who spend several hours walking each day are less likely to have a stroke than their peers who rarely walk, a new study suggests. And walking pace didn’t seem to matter.

Researchers said few studies have looked specifically at how both walking speed and walking time or distance is linked to stroke risk.

“Stroke is a major cause of death and disability and it is important to find ways to prevent it, especially in older people who are at high stroke risk,” Barbara J. Jefferis told Reuters Health in an email. She led the research at University College London in the UK.

“Our study suggests that maintaining an active lifestyle, specifically by spending more time on all forms of walking, could be an important part of stroke prevention strategies in older people,” Jefferis said.

She and her coauthors analyzed data from men enrolled in a long-term British heart study.

The men entered the study in 1978 to 1980. In 1998 to 2000, when they were in their 60s and 70s, they filled out surveys about how often they were physically active.

The new analysis includes 2,995 men who had not had a stroke or heart disease at the time of that survey. Researchers followed them for another 11 years.

More than half of the men walked an hour or less each day. About one in six reported walking more than two hours per day.

During the follow-up period, 195 of the men had a stroke. The researchers found that the more time men spent walking, the lower their risk of stroke.

Men who walked four to seven hours each week were 11 percent less likely to have a stroke than men who walked for three hours per week or less. But that difference could have been due to chance, Jefferis and her colleagues reported in the journal Stroke.

A stronger finding was that men who walked the most – for more than three hours each day – had a two-thirds lower risk of stroke than those who spent the least time walking.

Walking pace was also tied to stroke risk, such that average-pace or brisk walkers had a 38 percent lower risk of stroke than slow walkers. But distance walked explained that finding: men who walked at an average or brisk pace also walked further than their slower peers, according to the study.

The findings don’t prove walking prevents strokes. But they could not be explained by factors known to increase a person’s risk of stroke, like age, blood pressure and cholesterol. More recently identified markers of stroke, such as proteins associated with inflammation; blood clotting or heart muscle damage also weren’t behind the link.

“What we found was that all of these factors explained only a small amount of the relationship between time spent walking and onset of stroke,” Jefferis said. “This suggests that there may be other factors operating which explain why walking protects against stroke.”

Her team’s study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the British Heart Foundation.

Although it only included men, Jefferis said other research has suggested walking is good for women, too.

For instance, a team of Spanish researchers reported late last year that women who walked briskly for at least three and a half hours per week had a lower risk of stroke than inactive women

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke every year, and strokes are the most common cause of serious long-term disability.

“Getting into the habit of walking every day for at least an hour could protect against stroke,” Jefferis said. That can include walking that is done while running errands, walking for leisure in a park or just walking around indoors.

Both the World Health Organization and CDC recommend adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week.

Source: Reuters