Lamb Spared the Axe Because of Ridiculous Proportions

I recently moved to England, and animal husbandry is big news in this country "“ literally, in the case of this story.

Despite the fact that he looks like he could keep a family of four in lamb chops for a week, Bruno, a 21-pound lamb born at a Worcestershire farm last Monday, will not become an Easter roast. Instead, the farm where he was born is planning on keeping him around, as a pet and future stud ram, and to see just how big this massive lamb is going to get.

To put Bruno's birth weight in perspective, the average lamb is born at just 7 pounds and takes only a few minutes to deliver "“ Bruno, on the other hand, heaved his fluffy black-and-white 21-pound bulk into the world after about 20 minutes of labor.

Farmer Mark Meredith, who delivered the colossal "wooly lamboth," told the Daily Mail later, "He was born at midnight on Monday "“ and it was immediately obvious he was no ordinary lamb."

Meredith, referring to the lamb's poor mother, "You couldn't tell when she was pregnant that she was going to have such a big lamb, she wasn't exceptionally large at all"¦. But when she was giving birth I put my hand on his little toe I knew straight away this was going to be a colossal lamb. We decided to call him Bruno "“ because he's a bit of a bruiser." Thankfully, the ewe survived the ordeal without any bruising "“ the birthing of large lambs has been known to cause severe injury to the mother, including cracked ribs and broken pelvises.

Whether or not Bruno is the largest lamb ever born is still up in the air, although he far outweighs another recent 17-pound Lambzilla born in North Wales (where sheep outnumber people almost four to one, incidentally). The Guinness Book of World Records is on the scene, so hopefully we'll know for sure soon.

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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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