The Truth Will Set You Free

   It’s so surreal to think that an entire semester is almost at its end and moreover that an entire year of school is almost over. As the last few weeks of my freshman year come to a close I am beginning to reflect on all the good and bad that the last year has brought, along with everything I’ve learned. It almost makes me sad to think that I won’t have to continue this blog anymore; it was probably one of the most interesting assignments I’ve ever done and makes me want to start a personal blog of my own.  However, all good things must come to a close and in finishing where we started I thought it was only appropriate that I share one final tidbit of information about the most important muscle in our bodies, the mind. A study coming out of Scientific American magazine talks about the secret benefits that telling the truth can have on our mental health.  The article focused on how,” expressive writing encourages individuals to explore their deepest thoughts and feelings about upsetting experiences. For such emotional purges to work, people must be completely honest with themselves.”

A possible reason behind why this improves mental health is that, “once we write about our upheavals, we tend to ruminate about them less, freeing us up to focus on other things. “ Additionally the article added that, “dozens of studies have also shown that expressive writing is linked to less stress and improved sleep and cardiovascular function. We know that better sleep is associated with enhanced immune function and better general health—which correlate with better mental health, too.” The significance behind this research helps us to better understand the negative effects that ignoring our feelings can have on our mentality. In expressing the way we feel through an outlet, whether it’s writing or talking to someone helps to alleviate those negative feelings and helps us to move past them. It becomes clear why so many culture and religious practice some form of penance to help move beyond negative experiences in this life and the next. Personally I find music and exercise to be some of the best ways to get through tough situations, but ultimately talking to a trusted individual always leaves me feeling better and more focused. What do you think? Does this sound like you or are you a more open person that likes to discuss their issues rather than hold them in? Leave a comment to let us know and thank you to anyone who has read along thus far, it’s been a great time!

Dr. Shawn Arent; A Look at Stress and Performance

   For this week’s blog post I’ll be discussing the research scientist that I am planning on interviewing for the scientist interview. Currently my intended major is exercise science so I thought it was only logical to interview a research scientist in my field to grasp a better understanding of what I can expect in the future. His name is Dr. Shawn Arent; he’s an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies at Rutgers University.  He is also the Director of the Center for Health & Human Performance in the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health.  He is the Director of the Graduate Program in Kinesiology & Applied Physiology as well as the current Vice President of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. A link to his full biographical page can be found here.

Dr. Arent’s research focuses on the relationship between physical activity and stress and the implications for health and performance, with an emphasis on underlying mechanisms.  His recent work has focused on physiological responses to training-related stressors and their contribution to optimal performance and recovery.  He is specifically interested in the potential efficacy of acute and chronic resistance training for improving functional capabilities. This interests me especially because as a runner I am constantly intrigued in the potential effects that stress and fatigue can have on running performance. Recently I also applied to one of Dr. Arent’s studies that essentially set out to test the effects of a new weight loss drug on performance and body composition of generally active individuals with body fat above the normal range. I suppose it is both good and unfortunate that I did not qualify for the study, but I do look forward to the opportunity to discuss this research further with Dr.Arent if he is able to participate in my interview.