Mental health: keep your mental health in check: meal timing, exercise frequency are secrets to a happy mind

Mental health: keep your mental health in check: meal timing, exercise frequency are secrets to a happy mind

The “happy life” is a legend.

From finding work-life balance to following your passion, living a happy life is a daily process that requires a lot of effort.

After a series of trials and errors, each of us strives to make our life worthwhile. But studies and experts believe that changing simple habits can make the daily struggle easier.

real food
The time of day you eat can affect your mental health.

Harvard Medical School investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied the importance of eating during the day versus both the day and the night.

The researchers found that participants in the day and night eating group had higher mental health than those in the daytime group. Participants showed 26 percent higher depression-like mood levels and about 16 percent higher levels of anxiety. Participants in the day-eating-only group did not experience this jump.

The study tends to shift the focus to people who work shifts, who are likely to suffer the most due to altered sleep/wake and fasting/eating cycles. They are at a 25 to 40 percent risk of developing depression and anxiety.

“Meal timing stands out as an important aspect of nutrition that may impact physical health,” said study co-author Sarah L. Chelapa, MD, PhD, who completed work on this project while at Brigham.

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Happy and wise
The secret to healthy aging is out.

According to a new study, older adults who get up early and stay active throughout the day are happier than those who don’t. Their active lifestyle helped them perform better on cognitive tests than those with irregular routines.

Posted online in
Gamma PsychiatryHaving a consistent pattern of activity is important for keeping the mind sharp and aging in a healthy way, the study said. The intensity of the activity was not important.

For the study, 1,800 seniors over the age of 65 wore accelerometers (devices found in smartphones and fitness trackers that detect movement) – on their wrist for seven days to measure activity, followed by questionnaires to assess depressive symptoms and cognitive function.

The data showed that 37.6 percent of participants who got up early, stayed active 15 hours throughout the day and had a consistent daily routine were happier and had better cognitive function than others.

The group (32.6 percent) who woke up sooner and was relatively less active (median 13.4 hours) had more depressive symptoms and less cognition than those who got up early.

The remaining 29.8 percent of participants, who had irregular activity patterns, showed the highest rates of depression and performed worse on cognitive tests.

This means that changing the daily routine can improve health and wellness.

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However, the study’s lead author, Stephen Smagula, PhD, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Pete, said the relationship between mental health and activity patterns likely goes both ways. Depression or cognitive impairment can make it difficult to follow a consistent routine, and conversely, disruption of the activity rhythm can exacerbate these symptoms.

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Men and women react differently to daily workouts.

Research by Binghamton University, State University of New York, has shown that women’s mental health during an epidemic is likely to be affected by frequency of physical activity.

Based on a survey of 2,370 people, women required moderate exercise to keep their mental health in check during an epidemic (considered a time of high stress), while a frequent exercise routine was beneficial for men.

The study found that men and women secrete different amounts of the stress hormone (cortisol) when indulging in intense exercise. Although daily exercises have their benefits, they are lost when done in excess, which leads to malaise.

Women are more likely than men to report experiencing stress and have less stress tolerance, said Lena Begdash, associate professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University. Hence, frequent exercise may increase stress levels and negatively affect their mental health.

The researchers also found that exercise frequency modifies mental health by day of the week. While women’s mental health may decline on weekdays, men were more likely to have mental health problems on the weekends.

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