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Research prompts: There is a simple aspect of daily life that is closely related to better health



A new small study of people with mental illness shows that multiple factors in daily exercise are closely related to better health. This finding may help explain why pandemic confinement has been for many of us. Very difficult.

It is very difficult to stay active during a global pandemic, especially when many people are even afraid to go out. Some people start to exercise at home, but in the normal world, spontaneous outings are an important health factor that we tend to underestimate.

When most of us think of mentally-enhancing activities, we would imagine hard and vigorous exercises such as jogging, cycling or swimming, but it seems that just going to different places can improve people’s well-being. Suffering from depression Or anxiety.

A new study published by researchers at the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Basel in Switzerland found that the more places people visit, the better their emotional and mental health, even if their mental health symptoms still exist.

The study was conducted before the pandemic and involved 1

06 patients with mental health problems, including affective disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Some are inpatients in hospitals, and some are outpatients who live at home but seek regular care in medical institutions.

Over the course of a week, these patients carried an extra phone with them to track their movements using GPS. They also completed several surveys on subjective well-being, mental flexibility and mental health symptoms.

By comparing GPS maps with the results of these surveys, the authors found that although the symptoms of mental health problems are basically the same, greater exercise in time and space seems to coincide with greater happiness.

Outpatients spend nearly a day at home, but it is understandable that their inpatient activities are much more than inpatients, who spend most of their time in the hospital.

Unsurprisingly, those patients who develop phobias or anxiety due to fear of leaving a safe space are closely related to much lower mobility and a much smaller area of ​​activity. However, no other symptoms of mental health problems have the same effect on patients’ daily activities.

Conversely, a higher level of emotional health and a smaller degree of mental flexibility are always associated with more exercise and more exercise.

Andrew Gloster, a clinical and health psychologist at the University of Basel, explained: “Our findings show that activity alone is not enough to reduce symptoms of mental disorders, but at least it can improve subjective well-being.”

These findings increase the scope of research on the impact of daily activities in patients with mental health problems. In fact, this is one of the first studies to use GPS tracking as a measure of spontaneous movement.

Obviously, in the real world, this type of data may be seen as a violation of patient privacy, but in a research environment, it allows researchers to examine the impact of simple activities that are often overlooked.

Physical exercise has been shown to greatly improve health and mental health, but so far, most research on this topic has focused on conscious exercise. Today, it is not clear how spontaneous movements in daily life affect patients seeking mental health treatment.

Last year, a small study of 67 participants found that daily activities (such as walking to a tram stop or climbing stairs) made people feel more alert and energetic.

Further magnetic resonance imaging of the participants’ brains showed that those who felt more energetic after exercise had a larger amount of gray brain material in the sublingual cingulate cortex (part of the brain involved in emotion regulation).

Figuring out how to apply this knowledge to prevent and treat mental health problems is another matter entirely, but simple actions can be a harmless starting point.

Neuroscientist Heike Tost said in November 2020: “At present, we are subject to strict restrictions on public life and social interactions, which may adversely affect our well-being.”

“To feel better, this may help climb stairs more often.”

Merely going out may also play an important role. Natural exercise in childhood is closely related to better mental health in adulthood. Doctors in some parts of the world have begun to “prescribe” natural time to promote mental and physical health.

This new GPS study is small and limited, but the findings suggest that exercise may be a predictor of the overall coping status of patients with mental health problems.

The authors of the new study concluded: “The results of the study indicate that exercise patterns (for example, distance, number of destinations, destination variability, etc.) may be a sign of function and health.”

More research needs to be done to confirm and expand these findings, but the authors suggest that the use of GPS may be a non-invasive method to better examine simple daily activities and their effects on mental health and well-being.

The research was published in BMC Psychiatry.


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