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Exercise contagion in a global social network : 10% boost

strong contagion effects: on the same day, on average, an additional kilometre run by friends influences ego to run an additional 3/10th of a kilometre (Fig. 1a); an additional kilometre per minute run by friends influences ego to run an additional 3/10th of a kilometre per minute faster (Fig. 1b); an additional 10 min run by friends influences ego to run 3 min longer (Fig. 1c); and an additional 10 calories burned by friends influences ego to burn three and a half additional calories (Fig. 1d). This peer influence diminishes over time, with friends’ running today influencing ego less tomorrow and the day after for every measure.

New apps designed to reduce depression, anxiety as easily as checking your phone: Speedy mini-apps are designed to address depression and anxiety -- ScienceDaily

The 96 participants who completed the research study reported that they experienced about a 50 percent decrease in the severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms. The short-term study-related reductions are comparable to results expected in clinical practice using psychotherapy or with that seen using antidepressant medication.

Physical activity, even in small amounts, benefits both physical and psychological well-being | University of Cambridge

For the new study, data on physical activity was passively gathered from smartphone accelerometers, and participants were also sent a short survey at two random intervals throughout the day which asked questions about their emotional state. Users reported their emotional state on a grid, based on how positive or negative, and how energetic or sleepy, they were feeling. Users were also asked a handful of questions about how their mood compared to normal. The activity data was then averaged over the course of the day, so while the researchers could not pinpoint what participants were doing at any given time, they found that participants who had higher levels of activity throughout the day reported a more positive emotional state. “Our data show that happy people are more active in general,” said the paper’s senior author Dr Jason Rentfrow, from Cambridge’s Department of Psychology and a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College. “However, our analyses also indicated that periods of physical activity led to increased positive mood, regardless of individuals’ baseline happiness. There have been many studies about the positive psychological effects of exercise, but what we’ve found is that in order to be happier, you don’t have to go out and run a marathon – all you’ve really got to do is periodically engage in slight physical activity throughout the day.” “Most of us don’t keep track of all of our movements during the day,” said study co-author Dr Gillian Sandstrom from the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex. “A person might track whether they went for a walk or went to the gym, but when asked, most of them probably wouldn’t remember walking from the desk to the photocopier, or from the car to the office door.”

Fitbit charts a wild heart and a calming mind

Humans rely on two feats of engineering, each astonishing in its own right. First, the body is endowed with an ability to constantly and instantly adjust to changing conditions. And, second, the body has an equally constant and instantaneous capacity to suppress awareness of those adjustments.

Self-generated vision inputs suppressed

That's because the brain can tell if visual motion is self-generated, canceling out information that would otherwise make us feel -- and act -- as if the world was whirling around us. It's an astonishing bit of neural computation -- one that Maimon and his team are attempting to decode in fruit flies. And the results of their most recent investigations, published in Cell on January 5, provide fresh insights into how the brain processes visual information to control behavior. Each time you shift your gaze (and you do so several times a second), the brain sends a command to the eyes to move. But a copy of that command is issued internally to the brain's own visual system, as well. This allows the brain to predict that it is about to receive a flood of visual information resulting from the body's own movement -- and to compensate for it by suppressing or enhancing the activity of particular neurons.

Your brain suppresses perception of heartbeat, for your own good

It did not take long for Roy to get over his initial surprise at his discovery. “You don’t want your internal sensations to interfere with your external ones. It’s in your interest to be aware of what’s outside you. Since our heart was already beating while our brain was still forming, we’ve been exposed to it since the very start of our existence. So it’s not surprising that the brain acts to suppress it and make it less apparent.” Is feeling one’s heartbeat realted to anxiety? Awareness of one’s heartbeat is known to be correlated with a number of psychological problems, including anxiety disorders. Patients typically perceive their heart rate more clearly than most people. “But someone who does not suffer from this type of disorder can also be aware of their heartbeat,” said Roy. “This can happen at times of intense excitement or fear, for example.”