In our recent study of seven hundred doctors and their wives, we checked their daily exercise regimen, or lack of it, as well as their diets. Compared with those who led a sedentary’ life, those who exercised daily reported fewer physical problems and half as many psychological complaints. Using a computerized psychological score based on reported emotional symptoms, we found that the average score for exercisers were 1.6, while nonexercisers averaged 2.5, a 56 percent higher score.
Why? Because physical activity increases circulation through the body; exercising helps all the brain cells receive the nutrients they need. For many people, “nervous fatigue” is actually an indication of a sluggish circulation.
Exercisers tend to worry less, and with good reason. A two year follow up study of over a million men and women between the ages of forty five and eighty four demonstrated an inverse relationship between exercise and mortality. Among the men, a progressively lower death rate was observed as the amount of exercise increased. For men fifty to fifty four, the deaths per hundred were: no exercise, 2.08; slight exercise, 0.80; mod
erate exercise, 0.55; strenuous exercise, 0.33. Between the extremes of “no exercise and “strenuous exercise” there was more than a sixfold difference.
A research team from Purdue University has shown that rigorous physical conditioning can cause personality changes in middle aged men. They tested a group before and after a four month calisthenics and running program. At the start, those men in poor physical condition showed more signs of emotional distress on standard psychological test questionnaires than those who were in good condition. After the four month program, virtually no difference in the emotional stability of any of the men could be discovered.
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