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Can Moving the Body Heal the Mind? []


By Gretchen Reynolds, Photo: Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times, The New York Times, March 30, 2022

When Jennifer Heisz was in graduate school, she borrowed a friend’s aged, rusty road bike — and wound up redirecting her career. At the time, she was studying cognitive neuroscience but, dissatisfied with the direction of her work and her personal life, began experiencing what she now recognizes as “pretty severe anxiety,” she told me recently. Her friend suggested biking as a reprieve. Not previously athletic, she took to the riding with enthusiasm, finding it “soothed my mind,” she said.

That discovery convinced her to change the focus of her research. Now the director of the NeuroFit Lab at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, she studies the interplay of physical and emotional health and how exercise helps stave off or treat depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health conditions.

“The effects of motion on the mind are just so pervasive and fascinating,” said Dr. Heisz.

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