In fact, incorporating exercise into a sedentary lifestyle can have significant physical and mental health benefits. Exercise is healthy, inexpensive and, according to Roger Walsh in the October 2011 issue of The American Psychologist, underused to treat psychiatric disorders. In his review, Walsh found that exercise reduces the risk of multiple diseases, including cancer, and improves physical disorders such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Last week I discussed how unhealthy lifestyles can contribute to an array of physical problems and can play can an equally important role your mental health and maintaining a sense of well-being.
This week, I will review exercise specifically. I summarize, below, some of Walsh’s findings in his review of the literature exploring how exercise impacts mental health.
Cardiovascular disorders, obesity, diabetes and cancer are strongly determined by lifestyle. Smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake and diet have a major impact on physical health and the development of disease. Lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise and overeating are increasing to such an extent that the World Health Organization has warned that “globesity”—a global epidemic of overweight and obesity—is taking over the world.
Although the holidays can be a time of happiness and joy, they can also come with a multitude of stressors. Finances are often a stressor during the holidays, particularly for parents. Memories of loved ones we’ve lost, a demanding schedule of activities and being alone can all increase feelings of stress at this time of year.
When you’re likely to be faced with a multitude of stressors, it can be helpful to implement a few strategies early in the season that can pay off, in terms of lower stress levels, all season long.
“I never understood why my mother, who died in 1993, was so unhappy;” author Kathy Ewing writes in a description of her memoir Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother, “why she wanted to be the unluckiest, poorest person in the room; why she was so closed off, so harsh, so absent. I wanted to understand her and hoped ultimately to forgive her.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1.6% of the adult population suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). More than half of those with the disorder are not receiving treatment. Many of these individuals, like Kathy Ewing’s mother, are our loved ones. And like Kathy, many of us are hurt and confused by a parent, friend, child or co-worker, especially when we don’t know or understand the symptoms of the disorder.