Can the Mail Online be true? A recent headline claimed that suddenly stopping exercising, or what might be termed as exercise cessation, could trigger depressive symptoms in adults.
If you have been reading the Mail Online for long enough, your first thought should be – its the Mail Online.
The Mail Online has consistently resorted to sensationalist headlines, and its paper publication, The Daily Mail is also no different. The reason, as I have explained before too, is that the latter hooks you into buying a paper to satiate your interest, while the former hooks you into reading in order to have more “dwell time” on the page – which is stuffed with adverts which play as you scroll down the article, giving them a side earning, as well as giving the site an overall boost in terms of SEO. If you look at the Mail Online web page, you will notice that the side bar is chock full of sensationalist articles which induce you to keep clicking and keep remaining within the site. But first of all a hook is needed, which is where a sensationalist health article comes in.
The sensationalist article takes the slightest tenuous link between facts and links them to form fiction which you would not normally read. As I have said before, this is how it works: A shark swims. A whale swims. The Mail Online then says a shark is a whale.
So the Mail Online (and no other newspaper, it must be mentioned), based its article on a University of Adelaide study of just 152 participants which stated that after stopping exercise, participants started to feel depressed.
First of all, if you haven’t guessed by now, I refute the claims. Of course, when you have made a plan to exercise and end up not doing so, you feel guilty, but not depressed – that would be taking the guilt symptoms too far.
Secondly, the biggest group of participants in any study was 40 – and the total from all six studies that the university referred to was 152.
There were also other anamolies reported. Some participants had guilt in the second week but not the first. It is not clear if any of the participants had depression in the first place, but it is likely the Mail Online substituted “guilt” with the more extreme “depression”.
Let’s use a bit of common sense. If you lead a fairly active lifestyle, exercising three times a week for about 1.5 hours in total, and then you stop for an extended period, you are likely to feel you should be exercising but are not, and this disconnect will trigger guilt within you – not depression. It is even arguable that any depressive symptoms you feel will be alleviated when you return to exercise, not because of any physical benefit, but more because your guilt will dissipate with the ticking off of the mental checklist.
But at least it sells papers or web traffic, and that is all what some publications are about. As long as there is enough padding to mask the business end of the publication, the selling of adverts, then it appears publications can make the news up.