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July 10, 2015
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist





At some point, in almost every man's life, you reach a point where
nothing seems to work and you begin to feel hopeless. Hopelessness is
almost a universal human experience, in fact. But apart from the
obvious emotional downside of hopeless, scientists have begun to
study this powerful emotion as a unique health factor.  

Hopelessness, it turns out, is tightly linked to a number of critical health
problems, such as increased risk of cardiovascular problems and more.

In fact, episodes of feeling hopeless, or wanting to "give up", scientists
now believe, should be thought of the same way we think of our
cholesterol level or our blood pressure --- as a health indicator which
tells us plenty about our risk for life-threatening diseases. What disease
risks  are increased when you feel hopeless? And what role, if any can
exercise or other natural strategies play in helping to "treat"
hopelessness?


Why Should You Care That You Occasionally Feel Hopeless?

To a surprising degree, hopelessness predicts your overall health. In a
2008 study from Central Finland Central Hospital in Jyväskylä, Finland,
scientists discovered that men who experienced feelings of
hopelessness were at elevated risk for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic
syndrome describes a cluster of medical conditions --increased waist
line, increases risk for diabetes and cardiovascular risk. The study
looked at the health profiles of 1743 men ranging in age from 42 to 60.
The men were asked about their expectations about the future and
their perceived ability to reach their goals. Scientists discovered that
those men who felt most hopeless were twice as likely to have
metabolic syndrome than men who felt hopeful about their futures.

Hopelessness also raises your blood pressure, a 2000 study from the  
University of Michigan found. Men with high levels of hopelessness
were 3 times more likely to have blood pressure over 165/95.

And, hopelessness even speeds up the clogging of your arteries,
according to a 1997 study from the Human Population Laboratory,
Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California.

In fact, feeling hopeless raises your risk for dying from all causes,
according to a study from the University of Texas Health Science Center
at San Antonio.  Those who feel like "giving up" have a  2.2 times
higher risk of dying from all causes, not just suicide.



Exercise --A Natural Remedy for Many Cases of Hopelessness


























But, there is one thing you can do to help to reverse feelings of
hopelessness.

Scientists have learned that men who exercise suffer dramatically lower
rates of hopelessness.

In fact, men who stay active experience 37% lower incidences of
hopelessness, scientists from Finland have learned. The 2009 study, led
by Dr. Maarit Valtonen of the Central Finland Central Hospital studied
the total leisure time activity levels, maximum oxygen uptake, levels of
hopelessness and cardiovascular fitness of 2,428 men.



What they discovered is that men who engage in less than 60 minutes
of leisure time physical activity are 27% more hopelessness than men
who engaged in the upper range of such activity, over 2.5 hours per
week.


Exercising intensely was even more protective. Men who exercised
intensely for at least 2.5 hours a week were 37% less likely to feel
hopelessness, compared with men who exercised less than an hour per
week.


Exercise is not the complete cure for hopelessness. Hopelessness can
occur as a part of depression and, when it does, you should seek
medical care.





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