Aerobic exercise is beneficial in depression, anxiety, and has a stabilizing effect in bipolar disorders. (1, 2, 3) 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise weekly has been effective in treatment of mild to moderate depression. The key to reaping the beneficial effects of exercise for mood disorders is establishing a regular routine. This can be particularly challenging for individuals with mood disorders. (2) If you are struggling with establishing an exercise routine on your own I recommend connecting with a healthcare provider that can give you some additional support while your work to establish healthy lifestyle foundations for long-term success.
When it comes to the topic of aging and longevity, telomeres have become an area of focus for understanding this field of study. Telomeres are located at the ends of chromosomes and protect your genetic code from deterioration. The longer the telomere, the younger you are biologically speaking. Studies suggest that physical activity has positive effects on telomere lengths and can delay the shortening of telomeres allowing for increased lifespan and delays in onset of age-related diseases. (4, 5)
Review of the studies to date does not indicate an ideal intensity or volume of exercise for reducing telomere shortening, but a recent retrospective study looking at the connection between aerobic exercise and long-term mortality noted that “high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival” with “no observed upper limit of the benefit”. (6)
The studies mentioned thus far focused almost exclusively on aerobic exercise as the variable under scrutiny. However, resistance or strength training is also incredibly important for optimal health. Resistance training has demonstrated the following benefits:
Individuals who are generally in good health should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of exercise - combining both strength and aerobic exercises.
Start small and Form habits
Before starting an exercise routine, consider seeking the opinion of a professional. While the benefits of exercise are numerous, I advise individuals who have been sedentary or minimally active to ramp up slowly with exercise. Always listen to the signals your body is giving you to prevent injury. Additionally, some medical conditions can be exacerbated with intense exercise. In the long-run, starting slowly and establishing exercise as a part of your daily routine is going to be much more beneficial than going from 0 to 100 and burning out or injuring yourself in a few weeks. Discipline, not motivation, is key in developing the lifestyle foundation necessary for optimal health.
Comment below with your favorite exercise routine or habit forming tips!
Dr. Cheatum and Dr. Doize are Naturopathic doctors writing about health topics from a holistic viewpoint.