Help eradicate hunger, win prizes!

Everyone knows that hunger is a big problem world-wide. But did you know right here in the U.S. we've got our own serious problem? That's why Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore made this video (with the help of non-celebs around the country), and why Mike Myers, Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Edge and a bunch of other famous folk made this vid.

Here in Los Angeles, the hunger capital of the country, 1 in 8 people are what we call food insecure. By my way of thinking, in a country with a network and infrastructure to feed everyone, that's just Fail with a capital F.

To do something about the growing problem, many organizations have teamed up under the banner Fed Up With Hunger, and are trying to spread awareness to stop the hunger.

I'm involved directly, making videos, like this one at an event where we screened Ghostbusters in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (admission was 5 cans of food and we raised close to 5,000 pounds), and others you'll find on the FedUpWithHunger.org Web site, which I produced.

So what can YOU do to help fight hunger?

Forward the video on the site's homepage to as many people as you can, to help educate people to the problem.

new-ipod-nano-video-1What do you get, besides satisfaction that you're doing your part? Well, everyone who forwards the video will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a free iPod Nano (did you know they now shoot video?). But there's more: the three hunger-fighters who forward the video to the most people (only legit e-mails please!), will all win autographed copies of my novel, Behind Everyman.

How do you get started? Simple: go to FedUpWithHunger.org and watch the homepage vid. You'll see an option to forward it to your friends. The Web site tracks all the results, so be sure to enter your real e-mail address, or at least one where we can contact you if you win.

Bragging rights to the first person who can recognize the band and the song used in the video. Drop the answer in the comments below, if you know. Meantime, please post this to your FB/Twitter, etc. and help us get the word out!

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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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