Where you live matters in almost every way imaginable, and there’s now more evidence that your location impacts your mental health. We now know that what has been colloquially known is now provably true: rates of depression are higher in suburban communities than elsewhere. Of course, you’re probably thinking that the rural lifestyle is that one that provides the best mental health, but what you probably don’t realize that urban living is also really good for you. So if you’re living in an in between sub-urban and sub-rural area and not feeling great than maybe you should move out the country or in to the city.
We think the relative higher risks of depression found in sprawling, low-rise suburbs may be partly down to long car commutes, less public open space and not high enough resident density to enable many local commercial places where people can gather together, such as shops, cafes and restaurants. But of course, there may be many other factors, too.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t potential benefits to living in the suburbs. Some people may in fact prefer privacy, silence and having their own garden.
We hope that this study can be used as a basis for urban planning. The study provides no support for the continued expansion of car-dependent, suburban single-family housing areas if planners want to mitigate mental health issues and climate change.
Any physical movement is good for you and the evidence keeps piling up. A meta-analysis of the relationship between resistance exercise training (RET) and depression concludes that lifting weights does indeed help your mental health. Because studies usually look at only aspect of mental health we need more research looking across studies to provide a solid foundation and that’s what we’re seeing here.
One thing I realized when going to the gym is that it took weeks to get that positive feeling from working out. Don’t expect instance levity in your mood or skills. There’s no reason to start at the extreme by lifting way more than you can. Start with lighter weights and slowly work your way up to whatever you like.
After reviewing the literature, Gordon and team found that regardless of age, sex, or health status, RET is â€œassociated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.â€ The largest gains were found in adults with elevated symptoms, which gave the researchers hope that RET â€œmay be particularly helpful for reducing depression symptoms in people with greater depressive symptoms.â€ They also found that supervised workout sessions resulted in larger gains than in unsupervised sessions.
As Gordon says, itâ€™s impossible to blind people for this sort of researchâ€”you know who is lifting weights and who is not. As with most studies, the placebo effect could be at work. But given all we know about the benefits of exercise, this is a placebo with few side effects (overexertion and muscle strains being the most prominent). The benefits outweigh any potential risk.
Volunteering is good for others, and it’s good for the volunteers too. People all have difference reasons for volunteering in their communities and whatever motivates them clearly helps others too. What’s really interesting is that it turns out that volunteers are rewarded by better mental health. Yes, volunteering can help people deal with depression and provide a clearer purpose in life.
It’s generally understood that helping out others makes a person feel nice, but that experience goes beyond just the feel-good glow of altruism. Studies have found that helping others has tangible benefits, both mental and physical, from lowering your blood pressure to reducing feelings of depression. And research hasn’t found any significant difference in the types of volunteeringâ€”any kind of helpful act can create benefits.
“Research has shown that there’s evidence volunteer work promotes that psychological well being you’re talking about,” Rodlescia Sneed, a public health research associate at Michigan State University who has studied the impacts of volunteering. “In my own work I’ve shown it’s linked to improvements in factors like depressive symptoms, purpose in life, and feelings of optimism.”
Living near green space will make your life better. New studies coming out of Europe point out that proximity to nature has an impact on levels of depression, as in there is less depression. If you have the option to keep local forests (or any green space) then you should keep it! Not only are nature areas good for the mind, they’re also good for the body. The same research has pointed out that obesity rates are lower in places where nature is accessible.
The benefits aren’t just for individuals because fitter, happier people is better for society at large.
Overall, nature is an under-recognised healer, the paper says, offering multiple health benefits from allergy reductions to increases in self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
A study team of 11 researchers at the Institute for European environmental policy (IEEP) spent a year reviewing more than 200 academic studies for the report, which is the most wide-ranging probe yet into the dynamics of health, nature and wellbeing.
The report makes use of several studies that depict access to nature as being inextricably linked to wealth inequality, because deprived communities typically have fewer natural environments within easy reach.
Urban parks are great and now some Aussie researchers have found another reason to create more of them: it’s really good for your health. We’ve known for years that spending time in nature is good for people but his research augments that knowledge with a timeframe. It takes only 30 minutes of being in an a park to see benefits to one’s health. Which means that you can get enough nature on your lunch break (you should get more though).
â€œIf everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure,â€ she said.
â€œGiven that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at $A12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense,â€ she said.
UQ CEED researcher Associate Professor Richard Fuller said the research could transform the way people viewed urban parks.
â€œWeâ€™ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits,â€ he said.
And over at Reddit a user posted a good summary on why nature is good for you:
It’s probably a combination of things. Sunlight allows the body to produce vitamin D, which has been linked with a reduction in depressive symptoms.
When you’re in a park you’re likely walking and doing physical activities, and exercise is positively correlated with improvements in mood and reduced depressive symptoms, not to mention it’s good for the heart, blood pressure, and physical health in general.