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The Round-Up: Week of 25 May

A weekly digest of health and wellness stories from Singapore and around the world.

As we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, you'll find articles that help you stay informed about the novel coronavirus.

Sports facilities in Singapore won’t open till July

The story:

Gyms, fitness studios, sports and other recreational facilities will remain closed as Singapore enters Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period on 2 June. Business owners may be allowed to access their studios to record content for online classes, subject to approval of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

These facilities will gradually be allowed to reopen in July.

Any other updates?

On Sunday (24 May) the Ministry of Health confirmed another 548 coronavirus cases bringing the total count to 31,616. The vast majority of them are migrant workers living in dormitories. Three of the new cases are Singaporeans and permanent residents.

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Long-term severe effects of Covid-19 could go on for months

The story:

Research from King’s College London revealed that a vast majority of those who contract Covid-19 will make a full recovery, but in around one in 20 patients, symptoms persist weeks and even months after falling ill.

Tell us more.

Symptoms are “bizarre”, ranging from strange pains, breathlessness and fevers, to debilitating headaches and lethargy. There may be a link with exercise and a recurrence of symptoms.

Younger people who contracted the virus have also reported periods of forgetfulness, an indication that their cognition is affected . “We need to be aware there is a whole spectrum of responses and outcomes from this condition,” says Professor Charlotte Bolton, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Nottingham.

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New research suggests that active yoga may help relieve depression symptoms

The story:

A study has found that people with some mental health diagnoses who do regular, physically active yoga, are likely to have fewer depressive symptoms than those who practice less often.

What's "physically active yoga"?

In this particular study, it refers to a combination of physical movement (at least 50% of the duration of a session), breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness.

Yoga types included in the research were Hatha, Vinyasa, SVYASA, Kundalini, and Kripalu. Sessions were weekly and lasted between 20 and 90 minutes.

Tell us more.

The authors found that yoga had a moderate effect on reducing depressive symptoms for people with mental health disorders - most noticeably with people suffering from depression and schizophrenia and, to a lesser extent, for alcohol misuse.

While the results are promising, the authors noted that further research is required to understand the specifics of how and why yoga affects depressive symptoms.

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High intensity workouts can improve efficiency and precision of your brain

The story:

Researchers from the University of Texas found that high-intensity exercise is particularly effective on brain function. In the study, all adults who performed a session of high-intensity exercise experienced higher BDNF levels and improvements in cognitive function.

What’s BDNF?

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. It’s a protein which causes growth of nerve cells, and involved in brain cell survival and repair, mood regulation and cognitive functions. Low BDNF levels are linked with mental health disorders like depression and bipolar disorder.

What about other forms of exercise?

Different exercises have different benefits for the brain. With brisk walking, possible growth of new cells caused by BDNF, and an increase in oxygen-supplying blood vessels safeguards against the natural degeneration of brain cells over time. This contributes to the upkeep of the brain.

Exercises that require coordination and socialisation, like table tennis, has been shown to increase thickness of the brain in parts of the cortex, related to social and emotional welfare. Similarly, dance is also beneficial to the brain, whilst boxing provides stress relief.

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Powerful poses may improve self-confidence in children

The story:

Psychologists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg found that simple, specific poses can help students feel better at school.

Tell us about the research.

Researches conducted the experience with fourth graders (9-10 years old); divided into two groups. The first group assumed two "open and expansive" postures, the second posed with their arms folded in front of them and their heads down.

A series of psychological tests found that the first had better mood and reported higher self-esteem.

It’s worth noting…

Effects observed were short-term, and did not take mental illness into consideration.

This new study is consistent with earlier findings on power posing; however the concept is controversial in the field of psychological research.

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