How Early Is Too Early for TV Nudity?

Full frontal nudity on public television "“ before 9 p.m.?

Well, if it's in the name of art, it's fine with the BBC. This summer, BBC 4 will be running a five-part series called Life Class: Today's Nude and will absolutely feature full female and male frontal nudity starting at 6 p.m. The show is an attempt to encourage a return to traditional art study (and it'll no doubt inspire at least a few teenage boys to take an interest in art), and will, in addition to the nude of the night, feature an expert doling out advice. Evidently, nude figure drawing has declined in recent years in Britain, as many students have opted to stay away from classical training in favor of more technical and graphical based art skills.

The naked before 9 p.m. aspect of the show caused a bit of a stir "“ but not nearly as much as you'd think. BBC 4, for example, had no problem deciding to air the program because the nudity was "non-sexualized" and "educational." As most people in America probably know, Britain's rules regarding nudity on television (and in most other media) are a bit more lax than in the States. But what exactly are those rules?

According to the BBC's editorial guidelines, nudity before the "watershed" hour of 9 p.m. at night "“ the time after which programming geared towards adults may be aired "“ must be justified by context. And representations of sex are not allowed, unless there is a serious educational purpose, when broadcast before the watershed. Post-watershed, the program must be able to justify the "frank and realistic portrayal of sex" and the discussion of themes around it.

But What About Profanity? Drug Use? Rock-Climbing?

The BBC's guidelines also dictate how their programs handle: Offensive language (not allowed in preschool programming, and only under special circumstances for children's programming); rock-climbing and other extreme sports (with a disclaimer); alcohol and drug use (don't glamorize it, unless warranted); hypnotism (according to the 1952 Hypnotism Act, hypnotism must be licensed); and exorcism, the occult and the paranormal (entertainment programs about these subjects "should not normally contain advice about health, finance, employment or relationships which could encourage people to make life changing decisions").

Not Anything Goes

fabia.jpgJust because the BBC's guidelines are a bit more lax than say, the FCC's, doesn't mean the Brits aren't OK with everything. After Saturday night's airing of Britain's Got Talent, the ITV show that catapulted 47-year-old church volunteer Susan Boyle and her glorious voice into fame, watchdog group OfCom received 39 calls of complaint about another contestant, a burlesque dancer. Fabia Cerra, a 35-year-old former Disco champion and ex-drug addict whose routine featured her breasts, after she stripped down to a black teddy and red-sequined pasties, was given the go ahead to pass on to the next round of judging.

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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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