Scientists hit on reason why caring for your emotional well-being is so good for you

The heart and the head are often set up as a vital dichotomy within human beings. The heart is all fun and romance, the head all business and logic. The heart is fickle and often tricked, the head is empirical and obedient. Of course, thanks to science we know that this is all nonsense. But scientists are also just getting to grips with how heart health affects mental health and vice versa.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Subscribe for free and learn something new every day.

In today’s edition of Inverse Daily, read about how physical health and emotional well-being intersect and drive each other, execises to combat sitting at your desk all day (hi!), and landmark physics discoveries coming to a particle accelerator near you.

An exact illustration of how happy I feel every time I sit down at my desk.Camerique/Archive Photos/Getty Images

This is important: Uninterrupted periods of physical inactivity of six or more hours are as reliably a risk factor for premature death as are obesity and smoking. Studies have linked that kind of idleness — pushed on a large portion of the workforce through our information-centered, laptop jockey economy — to an increase in the risk of death from a chronic health condition by 19 and even 25 percent.

But, some casual behavioral adjustments may help. In an intervention study published last month in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sportwhite-collar workers improved signs of metabolic and cardiovascular health by reducing sitting by 50 minutes a day over three months, through practices as simple as standing during a phone call or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

After three months, the group that decreased their sitting time had “significant” signs of improved metabolic and heart health, when compared to the three months prior, including better fasting insulin and resting heart rate. They also had a modest decrease in body fat percentage of one percent, but no changes to BMI or overall weight.

Continue reading.

Head or heart? Choose both.Transcendental Graphics/Archive Photos/Getty Images

In a recent review of 12 studies published in the journal BioMedical Engineering Online,scientists found that people with anxiety, depression, and panic disorders are more likely to experience poor heart health, regardless of their age.

But poor heart health is not an inevitability for those experiencing mental health issues. Instead, these results reinforce the importance of “early therapeutic intervention” for these brain conditions, the study authors write.

Beyond therapy, maintaining one’s general health is also critical, co-author Renly Lim tells me. Lim is a research fellow at the University of South Australia. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

In turn, taking care of your mental health is a great way to take care of your heart, Lim explains.

“Talk to your health professional to discuss your options — both non-medication and medication treatments, as well as lifestyle changes — to better manage any mental health problems,” Lim says.

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