Behavioral Health

Mind over matter? How fit you think you are versus actual fitness

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A study of over 60,000 people who were followed for as long as two decades found that people’s perceptions about their level of activity have a more significant effect on their longevity than their actual fitness.

Keeping your smartphone nearby may not be so smart

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

As many as 75% of adults in the US own a smartphone. While these devices may make life more efficient, experiments with groups of college students suggest that keeping your smartphone out of sight can make it easier to focus on demanding mental tasks.

Exercise today, look better tomorrow (really)

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A small study supports the idea that exercising improves body image, whether or not the activity leads to any visible change in appearance. This suggests that additional research examining different types of exercise, and the long-term psychological effects of physical activity would be valuable.

Can probiotics help treat depression and anxiety?

Athos Bousvaros, MD
Athos Bousvaros, MD, Contributor

Research is exploring the connection between the brain and intestine and how they affect each other, and whether the use of probiotics can help treat depression or anxiety.

Yes, I’ve tried that too: When well-intentioned advice hurts

Laura Kiesel
Laura Kiesel, Contributor

If you know someone dealing with chronic pain it’s tempting to offer advice, but whatever the suggestion might be, that person has almost certainly tried it already. Simply taking time to listen and empathize may be more helpful.

Lifestyle change: “I know what to do, I just need to do it…but how?”

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Despite willpower, many people find that making significant lifestyle changes is very difficult. Factors both internal and external influence our ability to make changes, but being aware of them is the first step to overcoming them.

Coping with the loss of a pet

David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd

Losing a pet can be as difficult as losing a human family member. It’s important to acknowledge this grief, and there are many ways to do so, for example, creating a memory book, journaling, building a memorial, or donating money or time to a pet welfare cause.

You can do yoga: A simple 15-minute morning routine

Marlynn Wei, MD, JD
Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, Contributing Editor

The benefits of yoga for the body and mind are well documented. If you have been thinking about trying yoga, this simple routine includes breathing techniques, movement, and beginners meditation and will help you start your day.

What is addiction?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Howard J. Shaffer, PhD, Contributor

As understanding of addiction evolves, experts now believe that the roots of addiction can be found in a person’s efforts to escape discomfort and that this drive that can take a number of possible expressions, whether through a substance or an activity. The road to recovery can be long and include setbacks, but with time life can become much better.

Biking to work linked to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A five-year study of more than a quarter of a million commuters in the United Kingdom found that those who commute to work by bicycle had lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, or of dying from any cause.