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In my research of over 3000 people, I found that optimism (reflected in statements like, “I usually expect the best”) can buffer against depressive symptoms.

Having a positive outlook, or seeing things as “glass half full” is an important first step in positive mental health.

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Running barefoot is better than running with shoes for your working memory. In our research, participants ran both barefoot and shod (wearing shoes) at a comfortable, self-selected pace. Working memory was measured before and after running.

*Barefoot: Working memory improved after participants ran barefoot, but not with shoes.

*Time: Improvements after just 16 minutes of running

*Attention: Working memory improved when participants focused on targets on the ground when running.

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Proprioception, the awareness of body positioning and orientation, can improve working memory. We gave participants a memory test, then asked them to spend a few hours doing a fun activity like climbing trees, walking across a balance beam, and climbing over and under obstacles. Memory improved by over 20%! Why? These proprioceptive movements encourage us to use our brain to strategize while we move.

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Despite evidence that exercise has physical and mental benefits, there is still a high dropout rate. In my research, I found that emotional stimulation associated with exercising is a stronger predictor of continuing an exercise program.Coaches can use this feedback to strengthen their client’s resolve and bridge the intention-behavior gap.

HEALTH RESEARCH IN THE NEWS