A Slow Death for the iPod?

I've seen a lot of stuff over the past few months about Microsoft's new Zune being dubbed the iPod killer, and a David of sorts in training for his debut against the mp3 Goliath. But, honestly, a lot of the stuff had seemed laughable. The design didn't seem that sleek, I'd read an article that said that a Chinese company had beat the Zune to the punch by producing a knock-off before it could launch. And frankly, the name Zune never did for me: It just seemed like a bad science fiction title.
Anyway, all that's to say, I found this article today via TheRawFeed, and realized that the Zune might actually be a contender. It's kind of fascinating to see a) that the Zune charges faster than the iPod, b) that it has peer-to-peer wi-fi connectivity so that c) you can share songs and YouTube style videos with your friends (the system lets you listen to a shared song for 3 days before you have to purchase it). Also, d) Microsoft  has set up a pretty elaborate shop for Zune customers, and made sure that Apple users can't operate one without owning a PC. Oh, and e) the Zune is also apparently better for watching shows since the screen is slightly larger, and can be turned horizontally to watch programs in wide-screen. In any case, it seems like Zune has a chance at shaking Apple's grasp on the market, which means the guy on the left might suddenly start looking a whole lot more attractive.

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Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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