Body Positive Yoga and PCOS

Body positive yoga

All bodies are yoga bodies. Photo courtesy of Lydia Mann, Flickr Creative Commons.

Why Body Positive Yoga Matters

I wish I could write that all yoga programs are welcoming to all body shapes and sizes. The reality is, though, that many yoga programs cater to a thin body standard and narrow view of what constitutes health and wellness. And sometimes they do not offer the modifications or recommendations that help make all yoga poses comfortably accessible to larger bodies. Or they over-emphasize poses and, however well-intentioned, single out larger students for special assistance or treatment even if none is needed or desired. In short, not everyone feels comfortable in a conventional yoga class. If these words resonate with you, please read on:

Body Positive Yoga: recommended event and resources

As a body positive naturopathic physician, I want all my patients have access to yoga instructors whose teaching caters to their mind, body and spirit as they are, not as they should be. And when it comes to instruction and personal practice, nothing quite compares to being able to see a body that looks like your body do yoga.

This is why I am delighted to tell you about an upcoming event with body positive yoga instructor and author Jessamyn Stanley at the Seattle Central Library on April 21 from 7 – 8:30 pm. She will be discussing her body positive approach to yoga and her new book “Every Body Yoga”

“Jessamyn Stanley is known for combining a deep understanding of yoga with a willingness to share her personal struggles. Now she brings her body-positive, emotionally uplifting approach in a book that will help every reader discover the power of yoga. Jessamyn will appear in conversation with local writer and yoga instructor Nicole Tsong.

As an internationally recognized yoga teacher and Instagram star, Jessamyn Stanley conducts yoga workshops across the country, teaching students of all shapes, sizes, and colors how to make yoga a permanent part of their lives.”

If you have ever wondered whether yoga is for you, or if you have ever wanted to try a yoga class but were worried that you wouldn’t fit in or feel comfortable participating, please check out Jessamyn’s website and go see her speak in Seattle.

Where to find in-person or online body positive yoga instruction:

A benefit of living in or near Seattle is that we have some great body positive yoga studios for in-person classes and instruction. A benefit of the internet age is that it is increasingly easy to start a home yoga practice. Yoga instructors from around the world offer online videos and tutorials, many of them free or available by monthly subscription.

Here are several resources to get you started:

  • Whole Life Yoga: a Seattle-based body positive yoga studio located in the Greenwood neighborhood. They have drop in classes 7 days a week and regularly offers a Yoga for Round Bodies series of 4-6 classes.
  • Tiger Lily Yoga: a Seattle-based yoga body positive yoga studio located in the Columbia City neighborhood. They offer in-person classes 7 days a week, including pay-what-you-can donation based classes.
  • Curvy Yoga: online yoga videos that are searchable by length, energy level, pose type and body part. Free and paid memberships are available.
  • Body Positive Yoga: online yoga classes, tutorials for pose modifications. She also offers helpful advice for other yoga instructors on how to incorporate body positive language into their instruction and how to present pose modifications that keep students safe and prevent injury.

For writing on body positive yoga, I highly recommend Vancouver, BC-based Lisa Papez’s blog and manifesto. I took a workshop from her at the 2013 Realize Your Radiance conference in Seattle and was so inspired by her approach and instruction.

If you are a body positive yoga instructor or know of body positive yoga resources in Seattle or the Eastside, I would love to know about them!

Yoga, Body Positivity and PCOS:

80% of women with PCOS experience hormonal and metabolic dysregulation that leads to insulin resistance and weight gain, which can be closely tied to experiences of body dysmorphia, a challenging relationship with body image and anxiety.

A 2012 study of adolescents with PCOS showed that a 12 week holistic yoga program was better for reducing anxiety than a traditional physical exercise program. The teenage girls recruited for this study practiced yoga and meditation for 1 hour per day for 12 weeks, while their study counterparts in the control group participated in a 1 hour daily of traditional exercise (e.g. leg lifts and crunches) and group lectures on healthy diet and lifestyle. Researchers believe that the benefit that yoga had for reducing symptoms of anxiety was both neurological, by reducing activity of the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system, as well as psychological by enhancing mindfulness and stress resilience.

This same group of teenage girls with PCOS was also seen to have better glucose metabolism, measured by fasting insulin and fasting glucose, and lower cholesterol levels than their counterparts in traditional exercise programs.

About the author:

Hello, I’m Miranda Marti, ND, LAc, a body positive naturopathic physician and acupuncturist specializing in the holistic treatment of PCOS. I started doing yoga to support my stress resilience and stabilize my neck and back muscles to help alleviate my migraine headaches. What began as a very goal-oriented experiment (wildly successful, btw) with yoga has blossomed into a regular, self-sustaining practice.

Why Am I So Tired: Movement

From simple lifestyle habits to complex medical problems, why we lack energy can have many causes. In this series, I’m tackling some of the lifestyle factors associated with fatigue that lend themselves to home troubleshooting. This week’s topic is:

Movement: replenishing the energy that stress steals

Stress takes it toll on us in a number of ways, a major one being mental and physical exhaustion. Stress can rob us of the energy we need to do the things we need and want to do, and cause serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression.

One of our best ways to reclaim lost energy from stress is through exercise. This is illustrated in a 2015 article published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Psychiatry. This 18-month study of individuals diagnosed with stress-related exhaustion found that increasing physical activity reduced symptoms of fatigue, burnout and depression .

Surprisingly, study participants did not need to meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity to report benefits. As long as they regularly increased their physical activity above their pre-treatment baseline,  they reporting feeling more energetic and experiencing a better mood compared to individuals in the study who maintained their sedentary habits.

How much movement do I need to fight stress?

Walking for 10 minutes improves stress levels and mental acuity. Image by Peter Blanchard.

The American College of Sports Medicine’s guideline for cardiorespiratory excise, which was used in the study referenced above, is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.  Though remember that even people who didn’t meet this goal still reported significant improvement in their fatigue and burnout. All movement benefits the body and the brain!

Movement is more than just formal exercise. Any activity or movement that engages large muscle groups and raises the heart rate for at least 10 minutes at a time can help fight fatigue. In addition to formal exercise, this can include chores, sports, playing with kids or pets, gardening, physical labor, and walking.

Movement and Exercise guidelines for supporting mental and physical health:

  • 20-50 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days per week
    • practical definition: you can talk but not sing while moving or exercising at this level
    • max heart-rate: 60-70%

OR

  • 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise 3 days per week
    • practical definition: you can string together 2-3 words  but not talk in full sentences while moving or exercising at this level
    • max heart-rate: 70-80

Max heart-rate is a commonly used measure of physical exertion, representing the upper limit of what a person’s cardiovascular system can handle. The basic formula for calculating your max heart rate is:  220 – (your age), or you can use this calculator.

In addition to the guidelines above, which treat exercise as an event, I also recommend a daily movement habit I call:

The  10 minute walk away from stress

What is a 10 minute walk going to do for stress? Reverse it.

Stress, particularly it’s chemical mediator adrenaline, decreases blood flow to our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain most responsible for critical thinking. This leads us to more easily feel distracted, overwhelmed and prone to short-sighted or bad decision-making.

We can reverse this with 10 minutes of light-moderate exercise, such as walking, which increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex.

Though stress often tricks our mind into thinking we can’t afford to step away from the problem we’re working, the reality is that 10 minute break will reward you with increased energy and motivation, improved concentration and a greater problem-solving capacity.

Words of motivation

My go-to inspiration for movement & exercise to benefit the mind and body.

As Dr. Ratey, a psychiatrist specializing in how exercise changes the brain, states in his excellent book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain: 

Exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize brain function…When people ask me how much exercise they should do for their brain, I tell them the best advice is to get fit and then continue to challenge themselves. The prescription for how to do that will vary from person to person, but the research consistently shows that the more fit you are, the more resilient your brain becomes and bet better it functions both cognitively and psychologically….Does that mean I have to look like an underwear model to enjoy the brain benefits of exercise? Not at all. In fact, many of the most convincing studies use walking as the mode of exercise.

If you are looking for inspiration to start a new exercise practice or revive an old or tired one, I highly recommend reading Spark. It is my go-to reading every time I start to get a little bored with my movement habits or start to be swayed by that voice in my head that tells me I don’t have time for walking, yoga, running or whatever it is that I’m doing to keep my mind and body fit.

Want to know more?

This is the third of a series of blog posts providing the Whole Life Medicine community with reliable information about important health topics. Check back with use for future posts or follow our Facebook page.

About the author: Evaluating causes of fatigue affecting physical and mental health is a specialty of Miranda Marti, ND. For information about scheduling a free 15 minute consult or making an appointment, please contact us or call our front desk at 425-398-9355.

Outsmarting the Weight Loss Paradoxes

It is no secret that weight loss is challenging for many people. Why?  The short answer is our brain and behaviors tend to form paradoxes in the face of most weight loss attempts. Paradox #1 concerns some of the intentional and habitual behaviors that affect short-term weight loss, while paradox #2 concerns behaviors, hormones, and mindsets that affect long-term weight loss or weight maintenance.

Paradox #1:

Set points for energy intake and output can be hard to change.

The physics of weight loss is dependent on a discrepancy between calories consumed and calories burned but it is nearly impossible to consciously control how many calories are consumed or burned in a given day. This is because the majority of our behaviors during the day are not driven by conscious intentions but by habit, and habit is geared to maintain homeostasis.

  1. We eat more than we realize when we are intentionally trying to limit our food intake. For example: plate portions can grow a little larger than usual, we “don’t count” the extra snack or bit of food we eat in passing between tasks.
  2. We reduce our energy expenditure in small ways when our energy intake goes down. For example: you might fidget less during the day or perform fewer household tasks or shorten the length of time you spend walking the dog; even while you may be consciously trying to increase your physical activity through intentional exercise like going to the gym or a yoga class. A 2012 study published in JAMA showed this effect in groups of adolescents following low-fat, low-glycemic or low-carb diets to achieve a 10-15% weight loss. Interestingly, in this study resting energy expenditure was most negatively affected by the low-fat diet.

Paradox #2:

In order to lose weight, one must have a healthy brain that maintains a balance between the limbic system, which houses the pleasure-reward pathway and is responsible for the generation of cravings in response to stress or need, and the prefrontal cortex, which houses our conscious decision-making, long-term planning and inhibition control (the ability to say no to something or ignore a craving). But the ability to maintain this balance is easily and quickly compromised by stress, including the stress of deprivation and starvation.

  1. The pleasure and reward circuitry of the brain. Image courtesy of the NIH.

    Most dieting attempts are inherently stressful to the body because they rely on reducing food intake to the point that the body’s stress response is activated. Even the best quality food will only provide blood sugar to keep your body fueled for about 3-4 hours, then other hormonal mechanisms take over to manage the delivery of blood sugar to tissues. Those other hormones include adrenaline and cortisol, both of which can compromise the brain’s ability to manage decision-making and the ability to keep denying oneself food or the comfort derived from food.

  2. Stress, particularly adrenaline stimulated by falling blood sugar levels and starvation, reduces the blood flow to the prefrontal cortex where conscious decision-making and inhibition control come from. This means that an unintended consequence of many weight loss attempts is that they actually leave us more vulnerable to food cravings by decreasing our inhibition control.
    • Different people will have different susceptibilities to this particularly mechanism. Genetics, the degree of stress a person is under, from both physical and emotional causes, and the diversity of an individual’s ability to manage their stress (e.g. those who use food as a primary coping mechanism will be more vulnerable than those who have experience and confidence using an array of stress coping mechanisms).

      Sugar is more than just sweet, it’s stress-relieving. Photo by Moyan Brenn.

  3. Sugar is not just a “treat” for many people. Sugar biochemically decreases the degree to which cortisol, one the stress hormones, affects this brain as was seen in a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. This is a probable reason sugar and sweet things are used as a stress coping mechanism and why people crave sweets when they experience stress.  It can, quite literally, be a form of self-medication and stress management.
    • If an attempt at weight loss removes this coping mechanism, then not only may the individual attempting to lose weight experience more stress due to the nature of their weight loss strategy, but they will experience that stress more acutely and powerfully because one of the tools they had previously used to blunt the effect of stress on their brain is unavailable. And that in turn can set them up for sugar and food cravings.

So how do we outsmart the paradoxes?

Outsmarting Paradox #1

Awareness, planning and feedback

Awareness: Knowing that our habitual behaviors drives us towards homeostasis, keeping things just they way they are, it’s helpful to find ways to keep our decisions about food and what we eat in the sight of our conscious attention. Plenty of studies show that keeping track of what you eat with a food journal helps people lose weight and maintain weight loss more successfully than just winging it. This is because it enforces awareness about the choices you are making throughout the day and allows you to be accountable to yourself and others, if you are sharing this information with someone else who is supporting you in your weight loss efforts. And research suggests that using online food journals or apps is as effective as more traditional handwritten journals.

A trip to the library can do wonders for meal-planning inspiration. Photo by Lauren Friedman.

Planning: Knowing that our ability to make decisions supporting our long-term goals rather than our short-term cravings is compromised by hunger and deprivation, it’s beneficial to minimize the number of decisions you need to make about what to eat. This is where meal planning comes in. If you know what and when you are going to eat ahead of time, you will feel more secure exercising your inhibition control when a craving arises and have fewer opportunities for making spontaneous stress-driven decisions that are at odds with your weight loss goal.  For low-glycemic recipes and meal-planning ideas geared towards supporting brain health and decision-making visit my Pinterest boards.

A fitbit can track the number of steps taken throughout the day. Photo by Ian Dick.

Feedback: Knowing that we can subconsciously decrease our daily activity levels in response to decreased energy intake, it is helpful to have a way of measuring what our daily activity levels are on a regular basis. This way our efforts to increase our physical activity, such as going to the gym, are not in vain. One simple way to do this is to use a pedometer to keep track of your daily step count to make sure it is not subtly falling over time. It can also be helpful to log other types of small activities, such as gardening or housework, that might not be well captured by a pedometer.

Tips for the busy person: Programs that provide specific eating plans, or even provide specific meals and snacks, can be a reasonable strategy for out-smarting this paradox, at least in the short term. If you don’t feel as though you have the time and energy to create your own meal plans and do daily journaling, there are a number of programs that can do some of that work for you to get your started. These can be particularly helpful for people who feel overwhelmed by decision-making or do not feel they have a good instinctual sense of how to create and then follow a specific meal plan.

Outsmarting Paradox #2

Pushing the boundaries of pleasure, strengthening your stress response, and tackling trauma

Pushing the boundaries of pleasure:  people use food to reward themselves on a regular basis, whether it’s at certain times of day, like a 2 PM cookie to get you through an afternoon of work, or in response to certain events, like watching a favorite show on TV or celebrating a birthday. The pleasure-reward pathway in the brain is schedule- and event-driven, you can’t just take away rewards or alter your reward schedule and expect this part of the brain not to notice.  For long-term weight loss  the brain needs to be experienced in receiving pleasure from a variety of activities. We are reward-driven beings; it is part of our nature.  And developing a sense of reward from activities can take practice. That might sound odd, because it seems that rewarding behaviors are inherently rewarding. But the truth is the more we practice something, the better we like it. So if you are shifting your reliance on reward for food, you need to develop a schedule or program for building reward in other areas of your life.

  1. One big mistake people make when they substitute food rewards for other rewards during a weight loss program is that they withhold their new reward from themselves until they meet a particular weight loss goal. For example, someone might decide the will use an hour-long massage as a reward for losing 5 lbs.  This is a mistake because that’s not how the old reward system worked, instead it’s doubling down on depravation: you can’t have the thing you want (massage) until you finish denying yourself the other things you want (food rewards). The only thing this reinforces is that deprivation is hard and ultimately untenable. That’s not the lesson most people are meaning to teach themselves.

    Scheduling rewards is essential. Photo courtesy of Oliver Symens.

  2. The key to learning to experience more pleasure is to practice often. If you like massage, for example, practice receiving it on a regular schedule so that it supports your reward center on a regular basis and keeps you from feeling acute deprivation from your changing behaviors around your food rewards. That is how you teach your brain that there is an abundance of ways to be nourished and rewarded outside of food.

Strengthening your stress response: this similar to the concept of strengthening your reward pathways. In fact, many of the reward activities can become stress response activities. A stress response activity is something  you know will help you feel better in the face of stress.  You know it will because you have practiced it enough to know it provides pleasure under normal circumstances, and then practiced it more while under stress until it becomes a reflexive response to stress, something that your body craves to make you feel better.

  1. Walking for 5-10 minutes is enough to improve stress levels and reduce cravings. Image by Peter Blanchard.

    One of my favorite examples of this is exercise.  I make myself get up and take a 10 minute walk when I’m feeling a little stressed at least once a day, even if I don’t necessarily feel so stressed that I need to (or necessarily want to) take a break from work. Why? Because habitually walking when I experience a little trains my brain to make a connection between walking and stress relief. And the consequence of that is that later on, when something really stressful happens, my reflex response is to want to move to release the stress. How do I know this works? One, because my body has done this type of training before with chocolate and I successfully (and unintentionally) trained myself to want chocolate when I am stressed. And because I know intellectually that there are multitudes of ways that exercise improves mood and attenuates stress. If you are interested in knowing more about the ways that exercise benefits the brain, I cannot recommend the book Spark by John Ratey, MD highly enough.  Dr. Ratey is a psychiatrist whose practice and research focuses on how exercise supports mental health. Anytime I need motivation to move or exercise more, I can read a chapter and then next thing I know I absolutely cannot wait to exercise again. You can listen here to a free reading of the audiobook.

  2. Biofeedback is another powerful tool for redirecting how your nervous system responds to stress. Over a series of 4 – 8 visits you can learn to use your breathing and your posture to send calming signals to your brain, which can keep your long-term plans in sight even when events around you are stressful. Check out our biofeedback page for more information.

Tackling trauma: There is a complex relationship between trauma and weight gain, some of which is mediated the brain’s relationship to stress and food detailed above. One of the most important studies to shed light on this relationship is the ACES study. It’s received a lot of attention in the media for providing insight into the relationship between adverse childhood experiences, including common events such as the loss of a parent through death or divorce/separation, and health concerns later in life. The ACES study was started after clinicians running a weight loss program realized that an unexpectedly high number of participants started dropping out of the trial after successfully losing weight and wanted to find out why.  If you are interested in knowing more about the ACES study or seeing what your ACES score is, I recommend reading the ACES Too High News.

Miranda Marti is a naturopathic physician who specializes in the mind-body relationship and supporting long-term recovery from chemical and behavioral addictions, including complicated relationships with food and eating.  She is an advocate for body positivity and believes in health at every size.

Which Exercises Improve Major Depression?

Photo by USAG-Humphreys

News we’ve been waiting for years to hear is finally in! A study in the May Journal of Psychiatric Practice has pinpointed what type of exercises are best for improving symptoms of major depression.

Exercise is seen to improve the symptoms of depression, such as low mood and sleep and appetite changes, both as a solo therapy or as an augmentation to other treatments, like counseling, nutrients or medications.

Here is a summary of the findings on using exercise to alleviate depression:

  • Aerobic and resistance (e.g. weight training) exercises are both beneficial, though aerobic exercise was found to be MOST helpful for alleviating depressive symptoms
  • Aerobic intensity needs to reach 50% to 85% of the maximum heart rate, and in resistance training, patients need to do 80% of one repetition maximum, the maximum weight that can be lifted at a single time.
  • Three to five exercise sessions weekly for 10 weeks are needed.
  • Each session should be 45 to 60 minutes.

Keeping an exercise journal can be a great way to keep track of your progress and keep you motivated until you cross that 10 week (or 1350 – 3000 minute) threshold for improvement.

Bear in mind that these findings are specific to the diagnosis of major depression and may not apply to all types of low mood and depression. While this study is provides helpful guidance for type of exercises, and length and duration of use for alleviating symptoms of major depression, it should not be extrapolated that exercise is a panacea or silver bullet for treating all depressive symptoms; response to exercise as a treatment for depression may be variable. If you have depressive symptoms or low mood or a diagnosis of major depression, please talk with your doctor and/or mental health provider about how exercise might fit into your individualized treatment plan.

This blog post is courtesy of Dr. Miranda Marti. She has a strong interest in the mind-body connection and the organic (physical and biochemical) contributors to mental health and well-being.

The Balancing Health Holiday Guide

Image by Mark Skrobola.

This post on navigating the holidays in health and happiness is courtesy of Dr. Miranda Marti and the rest of the staff at Balancing Health.

Between now and the New Year you’re likely to encounter many demands on your time and attention. With that in mind, here is a selection of local services you may find worthwhile to help you maintain a healthy balance between the joys and challenges of the holiday season.

Entertaining yourself, your kids or your guests

Fresh Picked Seattle is a fantastic day-by-day calendar of food and nature-related activities going on throughout the Seattle area. Best of all? Many of them are FREE!

We find Fresh-Picked Seattle to be an essential resource for finding fun, natural and affordable activities throughout the year, but particularly so during holidays when we have out-of-town guests or out-of-school kids to entertain.

From cooking classes for toddlers to jewelry making for teens to beer, wine, whisky and chocolate tasting for adults, Fresh-Picked Seattle has an option to keep everyone entertained and in good spirits.

Finding living trees, local and sustainably made gifts

Living tree image courtesy of Our Living Forest

Woodinville’s own Molbak’s Garden & Home is our favorite place to find living trees for seasonal indoor and outdoor decor. They also feature many local, sustainably made gifts, including hummingbird feeders, bamboo kitchenware, gardening gloves and ornaments.

One of our favorite living gift ideas are Molbak’s beautiful herbal topiaries that will keep in your kitchen during the holidays and can later be planted in your garden for year-round enjoyment.

Also check out the Chick N Coop Crafts Holiday Bazar and many other holiday events at Country Village, a collection of over 40 locally owned small businesses in Bothell.

Keeping your inner peace during the holidays

Do you have acupuncture or massage benefits that are due to expire at the end of the year? Now is the time to schedule in some self-care with acupuncturists Janna Rome and Miranda Marti. Acupuncture can do wonders for promoting relaxation, improving sleep and focusing energy.

Avoiding holiday weight gain

It’s not just the holidays themselves that tempt us with more alcohol and snacks, not to mention leftovers – it’s the entire holiday season from now until New Year’s. And for some of us, that can lead to an average 1-5 pounds permanent weight gain, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Join us on Tuesday, November 27th at 7 pm at the Balancing Health office for Dr. Mona’s Guide to Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain. Dr. Mona Fahoum provides advice and practical tips on how to avoid unintentional weight gain this holiday season while still enjoying a delicious holiday season. This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP at 425-398-9355 or via email at balancinghealth@frontier.com

Finding a new balance point in the New Year

Yoga image courtesy of Tom Mooring.

Looking to find a new balance point in your life?  Need a positive antidote to the onslaught of body-shaming gym promotions that capitalize on the traditional New Year’s resolution to lose weight?

Come January, consider joining Insideout Yoga’s Realize Your Radiance Group for Women as an avenue for regaining or reinforcing a healthy mind-body balance after the holidays. Instructor Kim Trimmer offers yoga and meditation classes and workshops for individuals at any experience level in a body-positive environment.

Or if you’re looking to kick your yoga practice into high gear, consider signing up Balance Yoga Studio’s 30-Day Challenge: 30 classes in 30 days, starting January 2nd.

Exercise and Depression: What the Media Got Wrong

Exercise and Depression

Photo by USAG-Humphreys

This post on exercise, depression, and misrepresentation of research in the mass media comes courtesy of Dr. Miranda Marti.

You may have seen recent newspaper headlines blaring such provocative headlines as Exercise Doesn’t Help Depression in response to this research study.

The interpretation of the findings of this study by much of the mass media suggested that contrary to previous research and belief, exercise does not help alleviate the symptoms of depression.

As a physician, I was certainly taken aback by this reporting.  It flies in the face of what I have learned about exercise and depression during my training, what I have observed clinically, and what I have experienced personally.

Between the sensationalism of the mass media reports and a busy schedule precluding my own thoughtful analysis of the original research, it was an easy and prudent decision to wait for the scientific community to weigh in on this study rather than change my clinical recommendations to patients.

So far, my favorite interpretation of the data comes from the Scientific American blogger Scicurious, who holds a PhD in physiology (the study of how living systems function). If you only have time for the nutshell version of her interpretation, it is this:

“In sum, this study did not assess whether exercise helps symptoms of depression. What it assessed was whether someone encouraging you to exercise helped your feelings of depression, regardless of whether you exercised or not.”

I highly encourage all interested parties to read her entire blog article at Scientific American, however, because Scicurious raises many other excellent points about how the methodology (how the study was designed) and the interpretation of the findings were not well-represented in most of mass media coverage of this study.

Helping patients with depression is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my job, so my interest in this story doesn’t end here. While Scicurious’ analysis provides helpful guidance in determining the usefulness of this study to clinical practice, there still remain many unanswered questions about the relationship between exercise and mental health.