Health Notes: Global recommendations for physical activity, improved mood from yoga

Global recommendations for physical activity issued by World Health Organization. Study shows that yoga can improve mood – even better than walking.
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>> World Health Organization says ‘move it’

Perhaps not ground-breaking, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released its recommendations for being active, with suggestions globally for 60 to 300 minutes per week of activity, depending on your age, experience and the intensity. That number of hours equals about one to five hours a week, although per WHO guidelines, most basic health needs are fulfilled with one to 2.5 hours a week.

Divided into three age groups (5-17, 18-64, 65 and older), WHO recommends moderate activity but also adds suggestions for activity duration if it is vigorous. The association also noted that duration can be as little as 10 minutes at a time. If older adults cannot fulfill the basic recommendations due to health conditions, “they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.”

So what? Yeah, it’s just one more voice saying we gotta move it to stay healthy, mostly echoing what other groups have said in the last few years. Difference being these are global.

For the scientifically minded: You can read the information in detail and download several detailed documents by going to the WHO website.

>> Do yoga, feel better

Although general cardiovascular and fitness activities such as walking are recommended, yoga can be a way to improve mood overall.

A recent study compared the moods of those who walked or did yoga for 60 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks. They looked at mood and anxiety ratings based on accepted measurement scales.

Turns out the yoga subjects reported greater improvement in mood and greater decreases in anxiety than the walking group. Researchers wrote that they think it’s because yoga stimulates certain brain areas that increase antidepressant neurotransmitters.

So what? Everybody needs aerobic and muscle conditioning, but some mind-body activity such as yoga can offer other benefits.

For the scientifically minded: The study appeared in theJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16 (11):1145-1152, November 2010. Click here to see a free abstract.

--Therese Iknoian