The Late Movies: Sweet Valley High

California girls Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are identical twins with opposite personalities. Jess is popular and a little mischievous, while Liz is intelligent and innocent. They're the main characters in Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High series, and this year, Pascal released Sweet Valley Confidential, an adult update of the popular teen series. (Has anyone read it?)

In the early '90s, Jess and Liz took to the small screen with a television version of their high school antics. See three full episodes here.

Skin and Bones, Part I

While Elizabeth fights for students rights to express themselves, Jessica weasels her way into posing for painter/school hunk Dakota Dancer.

Skin and Bones, Part II

Things go sour for Jessica when Dakota paints a risqué image of her. But the gang finds away to get revenge.

Working Girl, Part I

Everyone gets internships ... and the Wakefield sisters and their friends learn that the working world is harder than they expected.

Working Girl, Part II

When a fashion designer tries to steal one of Jessica's ideas at her intership, she must come up with a scheme to get credit for her work.

Stolen Diary, Part I

When Liz bails on Jess for her boyfriend, Todd, Jess is angry enough to try to break them up.

Stolen Diary, Part II

When Jess's plan works, Liz dates another guy—with disasterous results.

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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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