Take a Walk: Exercise is Especially Important for Those Taking Medications Causing Weight-Gain

“Walking is the easiest, most assessable and most popular way Americans get exercise,” said Frieden. ”It doesn’t cost anything, you don’t have to join a gym or change your clothes before and after. It’s something virtually anyone can do.”


If the government’s recommendation of at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week sounds daunting to you, join the club. Fewer than half of Americans meet the government’s physical activity goal, and about one-third report getting no exercise at all.

But new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that may be changing. In a new report, the CDC finds that more and more Americans are taking up the simple act of walking for exercise, and that those who get out there and walk are about three times more likely to meet physical activity requirements.

The report looked at data from the 2005 and 2010 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), which included nearly 50,000 adults in total. The data showed that in 2010, 62% of adults reported walking for at least 10 minutes at least once the past week, up from 56% in 2005. Increases in walking were seen among nearly all subgroups of participants surveyed, regardless of age, gender, weight, race, geography or overall health. Even among adults who needed walking assistance, 1 in 4 reported walking.

(VIDEO: A Faster Stride Predicts a Longer Life)

“Fifteen million more Americans were walking in 2010 compared to 2005,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, in a conference call, emphasizing the remarkable benefits of a walk. “There really is no single drug that can do anything like what regular physical activity does and that’s why [walking] really is a wonder drug. It makes you healthier and happier. Even if you don’t lose any weight, getting regular exercise will decrease your risk of getting sick, getting diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and many other conditions.”

In the survey, walkers were defined as those who engaged in at least one bout of walking in the previous week for at least 10 minutes; the walk could have been undertaken for any reason, such as transportation, fun, walking the dog, relaxation or exercise. Americans living in the West and Northeast logged the most walks, but Southerners made the most strides in terms of increasing their walking prevalence, with 49% reporting walking in 2005, compared with 57% in 2010.

More adults with arthritis and hypertension also reported walking, which is good news, since physical activity can alleviate symptoms associated with both diseases.


Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/07/an-easy-way-to-meet-physical-activity-guidelines-take-a-walk/#ixzz22vOLcAys

Force of habit: Stress hormones switch off areas of the brain for goal-directed behaviour

Cognition psychologists at the Ruhr-Universität together with colleagues from the University Hospital Bergmannsheil (Prof. Dr. Martin Tegenthoff) have discovered why stressed persons are more likely to lapse back into habits than to behave goal-directed.

The team of PD Dr. Lars Schwabe and Prof. Dr. Oliver Wolf from the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience have mimicked a stress situation in the body using drugs. They then examined the brain activity using functional MRI scanning. The researchers have now reported in the Journal of Neuroscience that the interaction of the stress hormones hydrocortisone and noradrenaline shut down the activity of brain regions for goal-directed behaviour. The brain regions responsible for habitual behaviour remained unaffected.

–Ruhr-University Bochum


Better Judge of Character With Oxytocin Nasal Spray?

In other contexts, oxytocin is already well-known as the “bliss hormone”. The hormone is secreted upon stimulation by touch and is known to result in a feeling of calm and physical relaxation. It is also used to induce labour in childbirth and as an aid for women experiencing difficulties in breastfeeding.

Oxytocin has also been referred to as a “mindreading” hormone. Recent research findings show that there may be some truth to these claims – although the mindreading component may have a more down-to-earth explanation.

Angry people seemed angrier

As part of a research project carried out by Siri Leknes, a research fellow at the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo, 40 healthy students were administered nasal spray containing a dose of either saltwater or oxytocin. They were subsequently shown photographs of faces displaying angry, happy or neutral expressions. Some of the photos showed individuals displaying more “hidden” emotional expressions which tend to be picked up at a more subconscious level.

“We found that oxytocin intensified test subjects’ awareness of the emotions present in the photos. Faces expressing anger stood out as angrier and less happy, and correspondingly, faces expressing happiness were happier,” explains Dr Leknes.

–Research Council of Norway


Building an Entire Psychological Practice on Psychotherapy Sessions May Not be as Common in the Future

As health care in America changes, so must the practice of psychology. The good news, as explained by a panel of psychologists Saturday, is that the evolution of practice can lead to more opportunities for the profession and practicing psychologists.

Building an entire practice–and career–on 50-minute psychotherapy sessions, paid by fee-for-service, may not be as common in the future health care landscape, said Dr. Peter Sheras, chair of APA’s Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice, at the session, “Clinical Practice in America Today.”

Some people may be wondering, “Is clinical practice going away?” said Sheras. “The good news is that it’s not. There’s more interest in psychological issues than ever. Our challenge is to have psychologists provide those services.”

And for psychologists to get a seat at the table, that means taking part in the health care changes.

“We have to embrace a practice model that is more consistent with how health care is practiced in the rest of this country or we risk being a marginalized profession in the future,” said Dr. Katherine Nordal, APA executive director for professional practice.

Psychologists have opportunities to look at new populations, new fields and new places where psychologists can use their training and expertise. Evidence-based practice, treatment guidelines and outcomes measurements are a few requirements for the future of the practice.

CAPP, Nordal, the APA Practice Organization staff and other groups are already tackling many of the challenges. Legal and regulatory advocacy, public relations efforts, policy research and collaborations with related health care organizations are just a few of the things being done now to protect and advance the future of practitioners.

“APAPO can provide framework, but it’s the boots on the ground, involvement of members who keep psychology at the table,” said Dr. Pauline Wallin, a CAPP member.

“It’s up to every one of us to be a defender of our profession,” Sheras said.

by Angel Brownawell


Need Another Reason to Hit the Gym? Exercise Appears to Improve Memory and Learning

Add it to the long list of reasons to hit the gym: Exercise appears to improve memory and learning, according to Wendy Suzuki, PhD, a professor of neural science at New York University who spoke Friday about her recent research.

About five years ago, Suzuki decided to get fit. She started working out five days a week, and a funny thing happened. Like many researchers, she was doing a lot of grant writing at the time. She noticed her writing became sharper, better. Could added exercise explain the change?

Suzuki hit the literature and learned that studies going back 50 years found aerobic exercise can change brains in rodents. More recently, scientists have begun to show similar effects in human children and the elderly. Suzuki wanted to know how an hour on the treadmill might affect the brain of a healthy young adult.

To find out, the newly minted fitness nut got certified as a group exercise leader and developed a new class for undergrads. The students performed an hour of high-intensity aerobic exercise before sitting down to a neuroscience lecture course. At the start and end of the semester, Suzuki and her collaborators tested the students on a task known as pattern separation, in which they had to identify which of two complex shapes they’d seen previously. (She chose the task because it relies on a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus, a region where neurogenesis is known to increase in rats given access to an exercise wheel.)

At the end of the semester, students did indeed perform better on the pattern separation test. Control subjects, who took a similar lecture course without the aerobics, actually did worse on the test than they had months earlier. Suzuki suspects the decrease in the controls’ performance might be explained by end-of-semester stressors like exams and final papers. If she’s right, it suggests exercise might also protect the brain from the effects of stress.

Suzuki also observed that students were more engaged and energized during the post-exercise lectures, she said. In future studies, she plans to look more directly at the classroom to ask how exercise might be used to improve student performance and study habits. In the meantime, there’s no reason not to lace up and get moving. “We have evidence now that long-term exercise…has significant effects on cognition in healthy young adults,” she said.

by Kirsten Weir


Doctors’ Attitudes Can Sabotage Weight Loss

When it comes to treating overweight or obese patients, medical doctors apparently really need to improve their bedside manner.

“When a patient hears, ‘you’re fat’ or ‘you’re morbidly obese,’ that’s bad,” said University of Florida psychology student Amanda M. Roberts.  “This sabotages weight loss.”

Research has found that physicians harbor the same negative opinions that the general population has toward overweight and obese people, and when their heavy patients perceive this, they lose trust in the doctor and are less likely to adhere to the prescribed treatment, Roberts said during a session entitled, “Fat Stigma Across the Life Span—Interpersonal, Psychological, Occupational and Medical Consequences.”

A 2003 study found that more than 50 percent of physicians surveyed reported finding obese patients unattractive, awkward, ugly and noncompliant, and 30 percent surveyed described obese patients as weak-willed, sloppy and lazy, according to Roberts. Her own recent study found that patients with a larger body mass index were less satisfied with and had less trust in their doctor, and this was significantly associated with the patients’ perceived weight discrimination.

“We have to eliminate the ‘just-lose- weight’ solution.” Roberts said.  “Would you tell someone with schizophrenia, ‘You are so delusional. You need to fix yourself’?’”

Physicians have reported that obesity was among their least preferable patient conditions, preferred less than alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness, and they have associated obesity with poor hygiene, noncompliance, hostility and dishonesty, Roberts said.

“There’s really something going on and we need to spread awareness that providers need to work on this,” she said.  “We have to eliminate the ‘just lose weight’ solution.”

by Lisa Bowen


Researchers Dig to Find What Became of Morningside Hospital Patients, Alaska’s Mentally Ill

Among the more than 11,000 dearly departed inhabitants of Southeast Portland’s Multnomah Park Cemetery, friends Eric Cordingley and David Anderson have their favorites: a reputed French madam, a young Norwegian institutionalized for being gay, and Louis Napoleon Lepley — or, as they call him, “Louis the cannibal.”

Intriguing as their individual stories may be, together they help tell a bigger, darker tale. It spans two centuries and two states, and it illustrates the evolution in mental-health care since the early 20th century, when Morningside Hospital, kitty-corner from the cemetery, brimmed with every Alaskan deemed insane.

At least 3,500 and perhaps as many as 5,000 patients landed there from 1904 through the 1960s, when the federal government paid the now-defunct asylum to house the mentally ill from Alaska, where such care didn’t exist.

In an archaic system — mental illness was considered criminal — patients were arrested and escorted out of their northerly cities, towns and villages by federal marshals. Their so-called crimes included everything from suffering schizophrenia or depression to having tuberculosis, epilepsy, Down Syndrome, syphilis, alcoholism — even, as the Norwegian, Hans Eive, discovered, being homosexual. Often, their families never learned where their loved ones were taken or what became of them.


In those decades before Alaska’s statehood, the U.S. Department of Interior was charged with caring for the territory’s mentally ill and impaired. It first sent patients to the state asylum at Steilacoom, Wash., then, from 1900 to 1903, to the Oregon State Insane Asylum in Salem. In 1904, the care contract shifted to Coe’s Sanitarium Co., which operated Morningside. The government paid $30 a month per patient.

They didn’t check in voluntarily — far from it.

In Alaska, juries of six men tried and frequently convicted men, women and children, committing them to Morningside, typically without the luxury of physical or psychiatric exams. Patients ranged from fishermen and railroad workers, to housewives, prostitutes and prospectors who’d traveled to Alaska from all over the globe seeking gold. Others were indigenous Alaskans whose “crime” might have been deafness, dementia or simply the inability to speak English.

They often were jailed until the spring thaw, then transported by dogsled, train, ship or plane, landing more than 1,000 miles away in a climate and culture vastly different from what they knew.

By Katy Muldoon, The Oregonian


Early Career Psychologists Should Resist the Urge to Jump at the First Job Offer they Get

Given the tight economy, early career psychologists may be tempted to jump at the first job offer they get. Resist that urge, said presenters at an APA convention session on the topic.

“Don’t respond to your amygdala; listen to your frontal lobe,” said Anne Marie Albano, PhD, of Columbia University Medical School. “Say, ‘Thank you very much. I’m very interested,’ and then ask for a formal job offer letter.”

You need to get the offer on paper because even if a department chair wants to hire you, funding can dry up or a position can be eliminated altogether, said the presenters. “Don’t be railroaded into saying yes to a verbal offer,” Albano emphasized.

Once you get that letter, it’s time to start negotiating. Some topics to bring up might include:

  • Your salary
  • Moving expenses
  • Maternity/paternity leave
  • Job opportunities for your partner
  • Lab facilities and office space
  • The number of classes you’ll be expected to teach
  • Other responsibilities, such as academic advising and serving on faculty committees

The most important thing, said presenters, is to be sure you’re not selling yourself short.

“Your first salary will set the stage for all your future salaries,” Albano said.

by Sadie Dingfelder


VIP Kickoff Reception Was Fantastic!

We had a fantastic VIP Kickoff Reception Tuesday evening with 45 people. Hosted by The Marque, Houston, TX. Attendees included CEO and VP of Executive Service Corp of Houston (ESCH); Mike Alsup Exec VP of Gimmal & SARDAA Board VP & sponsor; Mr & Mrs Gary McDonald, founder and CEO of EHS Insight & sponsor; Mr & Mrs Russell Stalters, founder, chair of SARDAA & sponsors; other supporters, contributors and volunteers. Pics to follow.

Attorney: Death Row Inmate Missing Part of Brain

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kevin Wayne Dunlap‘s decision to plead guilty to killing three children and attacking a woman in her home near Fort Campbell caught his attorneys by surprise. Now, they think they understand why.

Defense attorneys say the former special operations soldier is missing the frontal lobe in his brain that controls impulses and decision making. The damage rendered Dunlap incompetent to plead guilty to a capital offense, defense attorney Kathleen Schmidt wrote in a brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in Dunlap’s case Aug. 16 in Frankfort.

….Dr. Robert Friedland, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said damage to the right frontal lobe could impact inhibition, personality, reasoning and judgment. Someone with frontal lobe damage may have trouble comprehending what he is doing at a certain time if his situation changes suddenly, said Friedland, who is not involved in Dunlap’s case.

“The overwhelming majority of people never commit any homicidal or other criminal acts. It’s an extraordinary event for any act to be directly associated with a lesion of the brain,” Friedman said. “It’s not completely unknown, though. They consider things like this when deciding what penalty to give.”

by BRETT BARROUQUERE, Associated Press

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Attorney-Death-row-inmate-missing-part-of-brain-3753620.php#ixzz22vClZqYs