The weather is changing. We cannot really complain about a long, hot, miserable summer, because we did not really have one. It was pretty mild as summers go here in Georgia. Nevertheless, you may have noticed that the air is crispy and cool in the mornings and not so hot in the afternoon nowadays.
There are some alarmists who have cried about global warming, but since the globe is demonstrably not warming, we have had to change the reason for alarm to "climate change." Apparently, we are experiencing a predicted annual "climate change." We call it "autumn."
This is a great time to begin your new walking campaign. Your joints need exercise. Your muscles need exercise. Your vascular system needs exercise. And now, new research suggests that your psyche benefits from exercise as well.
A Chinese study from Qingdau University Medical College in Shangong (clearly, this is not in Georgia) tells us that people with sedentary lifestyles, particularly those who watch too much television and do excessive amounts of computer work, are more likely to suffer depression. From dozens of studies with hundreds of thousands of participants, these researchers found that this sedentary behavior is linked to about a 25% increase in the incidence of treatable depression.
This raises a "chicken or the egg" question: which thing came first? I contemplate this question sometimes on Saturdays when I go to the breakfast bar at the Dwarf House. Were people depressed because there were sedentary, or does depression evolve with a sedentary lifestyle?
The studies analyzed included two from Australia, four from Asia, seven in the Americas, and eleven from Europe. Even across the continents and cultures, the link between sedentary lifestyle and depression was evident. Frequent television watching was associated with a 13% increase in depression, while predominant internet activity had a 22% increase in depression risk.
Beyond depression, we know from other research that the sedentary lifestyle is also associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes, musculoskeletal disease, and even cancer. All of that is depressing!
Megan Teychenne of the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research
at Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) was one of the writers of this study. Although she notes there are some limitations of the study, such as not establishing cause and effect (chicken versus egg), she nevertheless is able to give us some timely advice: "The message we really need to get out to the public is 'Move more and sit less.'"
The advice "move more and sit less" from this Chinese study sounds less like research and more like a Chinese fortune cookie you get after eating Kung Pao chicken. That does not mean it is not useful, however, so let's analyze it for a minute.
It is no secret that too much television, internet use, or anything else done in the seated posture is not necessarily good for your body. Do you find yourself in active and depressed? Do you need to climb out of a rut? Now that the season is changing (remember the politically correct term, climate change), becoming less sedentary can be done in a number of really fun ways.
Go for a walk. Breathe fresh air. Watch the birds, the squirrels, or the neighborhood dogs exercising their people. Listen to children laughing. Watch the leaves turning colors and dropping off the trees.
Call an old friend who is also too sedentary and get them to join you. Interaction with people is good for you, too. Reestablish an old acquaintance this way. Talk about world events with an old friend and you can solve most of the world's problems within the first two laps around the block (Alas, if only the world would listen).
With every lap around the block, think about all of the cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, musculoskeletal conditions, and cancer that you will not have-- all while you are having fun with a friend.
Now, don't you feel less depressed already?