Six minutes of walking can increase motivation to perform physical activity

Just six minutes of walking can increase a person’s motivation to perform physical activity and improve feelings of energy, fatigue, depression, and confusion, according to research conducted by Clarkson University Associate Professor in Physical Therapy, Ali Boolani.

Boolani recently completed a study where he measured the mood of patients over the age of 65 before and after taking a six minute walk, and found that patients saw decreased mental fatigue and improved physical energy after their walk.

Patients were asked to participate in a three-day study. On the first day, Boolani and his team measured their moods, had them walk around, and measured their moods again. On days two and three, the patients were given cognitive tasks that were meant to make them feel worse, after which their mood was measured. Then, it was time for a walk.

We had them walk for six minutes around a track, and we had them walk at a pace that they felt comfortable with,” Boolani said. “Even on the days they did cognitive tasks they started feeling better, and they even got up above baseline, which was really cool.”

Levels of anxiety in patients were also found to decrease, according to Boolani.

“Feelings of anxiety definitely improved, this is along the lines of most of the studies that have been done that show that physical activity improves feelings of anxiety,” he said.

On top of an increase in physical energy and a decrease in mental fatigue, Boolani measured patients’ motivation levels.

“Turns out, after six minutes of physical activity, they were more motivated to perform physical tasks,” He said. “In a real setting if you’re having a tough day, you don’t feel like working out, maybe six minutes of just walking can make you more motivated to be more physically active.”

According to Boolani, similar studies have been conducted in the past, but six minutes is the shortest amount of time anyone has tested the impact of walking.

He also said the pace at which patients walked had an impact on their energy and fatigue levels.

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Like being neat or color-coding pencils? Believe me, that is not OCD

“You are not defined by your thoughts,” we are told from a very young age. “You are not defined by your thoughts” we repeat to ourselves as tears stain our pillowcases and our bed sheets are gripped so tightly that they start to tear. “You are not defined by your thoughts” – why can’t we grasp that concept? Why are we repeating it almost 100 times and still not understanding it?

Because we have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a debilitating anxiety disorder that is stigmatised in today’s society but treated flippantly at the same time.

Somewhere along the track a disorder involving intrusive thoughts and obsessions to neutralise those intrusive thoughts, lost its meaning and turned into an adjective that people use when discussing cleanliness or symmetry. It’s a disorder that is so difficult for the ordinary mind to comprehend, it is simply turned into a joke.

‘It’s a disorder that is so difficult for the ordinary mind to comprehend, that it is simply turned into a joke.’

But that’s not fair for the sufferers who spend hours looking in the mirror to try and figure out who they are or who are so afraid of being a monster that they isolate themselves from the world to “keep others safe”. The sufferers who constantly tell themselves the world would be a better place without them. It is not fair to us to make light of OCD as so often happens.

OCD affects 3 per cent of the population – they say – however due to the nature of the thoughts, it’s easy to assume many people go undiagnosed. Would you open up to a therapist to tell them you’re having thoughts of harm or you think you’ve somehow been possessed?

I was diagnosed with OCD 18 months ago, but my first intrusive thought occurred while watching the news when I was just a teenager. It was a story about a murder; a young grandfather who "snapped" one day had killed his entire family. He had no previous history of violence or mental illness, was just "an ordinary guy" who snapped. How could this be possible? For a mind with OCD, this is the worst thing you could hear.

Did you see a crumb on your desk and you needed to flick it off? Perhaps you just don’t like crumbs? That is not OCD.

I spent days researching this case, trying to figure out why this grandfather did this, because if an ordinary person could flip a switch, that meant I could too. The idea of uncertainty made me feel so sick to my stomach I would vomit, shake, cry and not stop researching until I could come to a conclusion that this would never be me.

But that’s the thing with OCD, you can never feel you have found certainty. Every human being is capable of violence. But the difference is, an ordinary brain would not focus on that and would continue living their life. “Worry about it if and when the time comes,” my loved ones would say when I’d spend hours crying to them about my irrational fears. But a brain with OCD cannot go back to normal day to day tasks without suffering from the fear of not knowing the future.

That is just one example of the many subtypes of the disorder. Someone with OCD could want to spend hours cleaning the house in fear that if they don’t, someone would walk right in and cause catastrophe, or could avoid falling pregnant in fear that they could develop postpartum psychosis and end up hurting their baby.

Someone with OCD could continuously reassure themselves that they are not their thoughts, to the point where they haven’t listened to a single thing you’ve said to them because they are so lost in their mind. Or they might drive around in circles to make sure they didn’t zone out on the road and hit someone without realising. Or avoid train tracks because they are petrified that they might snap and self harm one day even though they don’t want to. Or wash their hands continuously, not because they want to be clean, but because they’re afraid they will contract a terminal illness if they don’t.

A brain with OCD is irrational, but how it feels is real. So when we hear people joke off-handedly that they are "soooo OCD" because they keep their desk color coorindated it is destructive.

October 13th-19th is OCD Awareness Week. Let us make a difference by dropping the use of “OCD” adjectives. Do you like your pencils colour coordinated? That’s great, but unless the only reason you do that is to neutralise your disturbing thoughts, then that is not OCD. Does your room need to be spotless every single day? Is that because you’re just a neat person? Then that is not OCD either.

Did you see a crumb on your desk and you needed to flick it off? Perhaps you just don’t like crumbs? That is not OCD. It’s important to stop diminishing the severity of this disorder by over using the label. And it’s important to have a conversation and ask your loved ones if what they’re feeling goes a lot deeper than simple anxiety.

When I sought the courage to open up to a psychologist about how I felt after years of struggling with absurd fears, she knew straight away it was a case of OCD. There is no greater feeling than hearing a formal diagnosis to describe your irrational thoughts. Hearing that other people go through the same thing and you're not alone is revelatory.

Through therapy I have grown to realise that thoughts are harmless and even though I once believed things would never get better, now I can watch my thoughts pass through and can sit comfortably with the uncertainty of the future, and even laugh.

It’s so hard for someone with these thoughts to open up without the fear of being judged or “exposed”, but for someone in the midst of the condition this conversation could potentially be the difference between life and death.

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Woman with endometriosis is mistaken for being pregnant thanks to bloating

After 16 years of being misdiagnosed, Claudia Wright, 28, was told she had stage four endometriosis – a condition which causes tissue to grow across her reproductive organs and bowels.

Despite having specialist surgery in America, Claudia still suffers from such severe bloating that people often assume she’s pregnant.

Each misplaced comment is a reminder that Claudia may never be able to carry a child of her own.

Claudia, from Perth, Australia, said: ‘It is a devastating blow every time somebody asks me if I am pregnant and when my due date is because I may never be able to have a baby of my own.

‘It is a cruel joke that I can look pregnant, but I may never be pregnant, the doctor has advised for my partner Michael Crugnale, 28, and I to start trying sooner rather than later as my chances are quickly decreasing.

‘I tend to hide under baggy clothing or stay indoors when I have a flare up because of the pain to avoid being questioned by strangers.

‘My left ovary is currently showing signs of shutting down and it’s completely immobile, so I can’t try for a family until that’s sorted as I need to have it cut from the scar tissue.

‘It’s traumatic to be told you may not be able to have a baby, but hey, try anyway and try now, regardless of your personal circumstances.

‘Surgery isn’t a cure for my condition as it is a chronic illness, I had part of my endometriosis excised in October 2018 by Center for Endometriosis Care in America.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body, such as in the ovaries or the fallopian tubes.

Each month, these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.

It’s a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods, and it can lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.

The condition is fairly common, with around 1.5 million women in the UK living with it.

Symptoms vary from person to person but some of the most common include:

  • Painful, heavy, or irregular periods
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Infertility
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Fatigue

Endometriosis UK

‘The surgery involved separating my fused organs, a hysteroscopy, checking my fallopian tubes were clear and work and removing the endometriosis from my bowel and reproductive organs.

‘The excision I the gold standard of care and best treatment option to remove the disease but it doesn’t mean I no longer have it.’

Claudia was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 11 years old as she suffered with excruciating lower abdomen pains, fatigue, rectal bleeding and migraines.

She spent 15 years being treated for the disease until 2017 when doctors discharged her and explained she had been misdiagnosed.

Claudia began to do her own research and discovered that the symptoms of endometriosis exactly lined up with her own experience.

She was finally diagnosed with severe endometriosis by a gynaecologist. While it was relief to figure out what was going on, things didn’t get much better. Soon Claudia had to quit her job in PR and marketing as her severe pain prevented her from leaving the house.

She’s recently purchased a walking stick as her pain and fatigue make it hard to even stand.

Claudia is now sharing her story – alongside photos of her swollen abdomen – on Instagram to raise awareness of endometriosis and the impact it can have on people’s lives.

‘Endometriosis is overlooked because it isn’t terminal but the despair from living a life in severe pain that isn’t believed, or going through repeated surgeries with no successful outcomes can be,’ she explains.

‘I stay positive because I am surrounded by an amazing support system and I use Instagram to turn my pain into power by using my story and knowledge of the disease to help others.

‘I’m all about researching, advocating, educating and sharing with the endometriosis community and the greater public.’

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