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Faculty in the News

Meditation Plus Running as a Treatment for Depression

By Gretchen Reynolds | | March 16, 2016

Alderman2016.03.16Meditating before running could change the brain in ways that are more beneficial for mental health than practicing either of those activities alone, according to an interesting study of a new treatment program for people with depression.


So, for the new study, which was published last month in Translational Psychiatry, the scientists recruited 52 men and women, 22 of whom had been given diagnoses of depression.  The researchers confirmed that diagnosis with their own tests and then asked all of the volunteers to complete a computerized test of their ability to focus while sensors measured electrical signals in their brains.

The researchers found that the depressed volunteers showed signaling patterns in their prefrontal cortex that are associated with poor concentration and focus.

Then the researchers had all of the volunteers begin a fairly rigorous, supervised program of sitting, followed by sweating.

To start, the volunteers were taught a form of meditation known as focused attention.  Essentially entry-level mindfulness meditation, it requires people to sit quietly and think about their respiration by counting their breaths up to 10 and then backward.  This practice is not easy, especially at first.

"If people found their thoughts wandering" during the meditation, and especially if they began to ruminate on unpleasant memories, they were told not to worry or judge themselves, "but just to start counting again from one," said Brandon Alderman, a professor of exercise science at Rutgers who led the study.

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Exercise and Meditation - Together - Help Beat Depression, Rutgers Study Finds

Scientists say learning new cognitive skills can help reduce overwhelming negative thoughts

By Robin Lally | Rutgers Today | February 10, 2016

Meditation 201602Meditation and aerobic exercise done together helps reduce depression, according to a new Rutgers study.

The study, published in Translational Psychiatry this month, found that the mind and body combination – done twice a week for only two months – reduced the symptoms for a group of students by 40 percent.

“We are excited by the findings because we saw such a meaningful improvement in both clinically depressed and non-depressed students,” says Brandon Alderman, lead author of the research study. “It is the first time that both of these two behavioral therapies have been looked at together for dealing with depression.”

Alderman, assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sports Studies, and Tracey Shors, professor in the Department of Psychology and Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, both in the School of Arts and Sciences, discovered that a combination of mental and physical training (MAP) enabled students with major depressive disorder not to let problems or negative thoughts overwhelm them.

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Dr. Kaplowitz on exercise in excess

Study finds exercise helpful in moderation, harmful in excess

By Chinmoyi Bhushan | | January 26, 2016

Three weeks into January, many people have already dropped their resolutions to work out more, but some people may be exercising too much.

A recent study suggested that overdosing on exercise can have detrimental effects on a person's health, specifically their heart, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While exercise is believed to improve both mental and physical health, certain types of workout sessions like cardio should not exceed more than 45 minutes, according to Mercola Fitness.

Regular cardio exercises have many benefits.  It can help increase the amount of oxygen in blood, improve the ability of the body to detoxify and elevate one's mood

By excessive exercise can lead to the breakdown of tissues, release stress hormones, increase the risk of injuries due to tears in muscle fibers and weaken the immune system, according to Mercola.

Excessive exercise can be a part of an eating disorder, said Susan Kaplowitz, a professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies.  It manifests when a person exercises excessively as a way of losing weight or to compensate for their eating.

"It can also be a psychological problem caused by poor body image: `I am not thin enough, I am not muscular enough,'" Kaplowitz said.

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Rutgers adjunct professor receives 3rd assistance dog

By Ahana Dave | | June 15, 2015


When Javier Robles' second service dog, Janus, died last February, he waited six months before asking Canine Companions for Independence for a new companion.

"I decided to wait because I felt really sad and it takes a while to get over that feeling," Robles said.

This February, Robles was matched with Delbert, a 2 1/2 year old Labrador retriever.

"He's really good, he's so sweet and a lovable little boy," he said.  "I still miss Janus, but you sort of have to try and move on a little bit."

Robles, an adjunct professor at Rutgers University who suffered a spinal injury at 16 when he slipped from a branch while climbing a tree, teaches a class called Movement Experiences for Individuals with Disabilities in the department of exercise science and sport studies.  The class features guest speakers ranging from individuals who have a disability to representatives of organizations who work with people with disabilities to increase students' awareness and knowledge of the adaptive and developmental needs of individuals with disabilities.

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Dr. Arent weighs in on new workout plan in NFL

The Green Bay Packers' New Workout Plan

A Different Approach to the NFL Workweek Is Paying Off; ‘Feel-Good Fridays’

By Kevin Clark | November 18, 2014 |

NFL teams are asking the same question as weekend-warrior runners and cyclists: How much should you push yourself just before the big day?

The surging Green Bay Packers have a counterintuitive answer.  It's called "Feel-Good Friday," a recent Packers creation in which Friday's practice is canceled but deep-tissue massages or other treatments are mandatory.


Experts say that nearly all training within a day of a game should be focused on replenishment of glycogen, a carbohydrate storage material.  Practicing the day before a game could in fact put a team at a disadvantage, said Shawn Arent, an associate professor in the department of exercise science and sport studies at Rutgers University.

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