Oblique Crunches – Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits, and Alternatives – Fitness Volt – FitnessVolt.com

Oblique Crunches
When it comes to abs training, a lot of people focus almost exclusively on the muscle at the front of their abdomen; the rectus abdominis. In some ways, this makes a lot of sense because that’s the muscle that gives you a six-pack – providing you are lean enough to see it, of course!
However, there is more to a well-develop midsection than your rectus abdominus. Oblique or side crunches train the muscles of your waist, which are every bit as important.
The Legacy Of Vince The Iron Guru Gironda TallThe Legacy Of Vince The Iron Guru Gironda Tall
In this article, we explain why and how to do this exercise and provide you with several variations and alternatives to try.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that oblique crunches work your obliques! However, there are some other muscles involved in this exercise:
Internal and external obliques – the internal and external obliques run diagonally across your midsection and are responsible for rotating and laterally flexing your spine. The internal obliques lie beneath the external obliques. Both oblique muscles work together and are basically your waist muscles.
Rectus abdominis – usually just called the abs for short, this long, flat muscle runs from your sternum and lower ribs down to the bottom of your pelvis. While the primary function of your rectus abdominis is flexion of your spine, it also works with your obliques in lateral flexion.
Quadratus lumborum – running from your lowermost ribs to the top of your pelvis, this deep muscle helps your abs and obliques flex your spine laterally.
Transverse abdominis – where the rectus abdominis runs vertically up the front of your stomach, the transverse abdominis encircles it like a muscular weightlifting belt. Situated beneath the other muscles, the TVA contracts inward to stabilize your spine. Increase TVA activation by breathing out forcefully as you contract your abs and obliques.
Get the most from oblique crunches while keeping your injury risk to a minimum by following these step-by-step instructions:
Oblique or side crunches are a useful abs exercise with several notable benefits:
No equipment required – while weighted abs exercises like cable crunches and dumbbell side bends are equally effective, you need access to equipment to do them. Oblique crunches require just your bodyweight and somewhere to lie down, so they’re ideal for home exercisers.
Target your obliques – while side crunches also work your rectus abdominis, the prime mover is your obliques. Well-developed obliques can add a lot to the appearance and function of your midsection, and adding this exercise to your workout program will help you sculpt an even better-looking core.
Easy to learn – oblique crunches are a pretty straightforward exercise that’s easy to master. It’s a useful movement for beginners but, done slowly and deliberately, is also suitable for more advanced exercisers.
While oblique crunches are mostly beneficial, there are a few drawbacks to consider too:
Limited overload – the range of movement and load involved in this exercise means that oblique crunches are not all that hard, and the only way to make them more challenging is to do more reps. High rep abs training is not very time-efficient and won’t do much to increase the strength of your obliques.
Some people just don’t feel this exercise – done correctly, oblique crunches are an effective abs exercise. That said, some people report not really feeling this exercise and find it ineffectual. A strong mind-muscle link is often the difference between success and failure when doing this exercise.
While oblique crunches are a popular and effective exercise, if that’s all you ever do for your waist, this exercise will soon lose some of its potency. Keep your core workouts fresh, interesting, and productive with these oblique crunch variations and alternatives.
Abs exercises using a stability ball are generally more challenging than the same exercise done on the floor. Using a ball increases your range of motion and causes instability, leading to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
The main advantage of dumbbell side bends over oblique crunches is that you can use progressively heavier weights to make them more challenging. However, it is crucial you don’t hold a dumbbell in each hand in an attempt to train both sides of your waist at once. One weight counterbalances the other, turning what should be a good oblique exercise into more of a forearm workout!
Dumbbell side bendDumbbell side bend
If you have mastered the side crunch, the oblique cable crunch is an excellent next choice. Done kneeling or standing, using a cable machine allows you to use more weight and keeps your muscles under constant tension. As with regular side crunches, really flex your obliques hard to maximize the effect of this exercise.
Learn how to do this exercise here.
While the single-arm farmer’s walk looks nothing like a side crunch, it’s actually a very effective oblique exercise. During single-arm farmer’s walks, you’ll need to use your obliques to keep your torso upright.
You are stronger isometrically than you are concentrically or eccentrically, which means you can go really heavy on this exercise, giving your obliques a serious strength-building workout.
Side planks provide your obliques with a good workout, but, like most bodyweight abs exercises, all too soon, they will lose some of their effect, and you’ll need to do them for longer and longer. This side plank variation involves a leg raise which makes them more challenging. You can also do this exercise for reps instead of a predetermined time.
Side PlankSide Plank
Love deadlifts? Want to hammer your obliques? Then suitcase deadlift is the exercise for you. It involves bracing your abs and using your obliques to maintain an upright torso while doing single-arm deadlifts. It’s a very functional exercise that’s ideal for building full-body strength and stability. The name comes from how this exercise makes you look like you are bending down to pick up a bag or suitcase.
As well as laterally flexing your spine, your obliques are the muscles responsible for spinal rotation. Exercises like cable wood chops, twisting crunches, and Russian twists are all useful oblique exercises. However, for an even more powerful oblique exercise, give landmine full contact twists a try.
This exercise not only works your waist but also trains your arms and shoulders. Oblique exercises don’t come much more functional than this! No landmine? No problem; just use a standard Olympic bar with one end wedged in a corner.
You don’t see a lot of people doing oblique crunches anymore. A lot of trainers and exercisers think that working the obliques will lead to a wide, blocky waist, but that’s simply not true. In fact, working your obliques will contribute to the V-shaped torso that so many exercisers want.
There are lots of exercises you can use to target your obliques, but the side crunch is as good as any. It’s easy to learn, you can do it anywhere, and if you do them slowly and deliberately, contracting your obliques hard at the top of each rep, they’re very effective.
The rectus abdominis might be the most famous abs muscle, but your obliques deserve some love too. Work them without equipment by doing oblique crunches.
Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine, gym owner, and fitness qualifications tutor and assessor. In addition, Patrick is a freelance writer who has authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos. He’s not just an armchair fitness expert; Patrick practices what he preaches! He has competed at a high level in numerous sports, including rugby, triathlon, rock climbing, trampolining, powerlifting, and, most recently, stand up paddleboarding. When not lecturing, training, researching, or writing, Patrick is busy enjoying the sunny climate of Cyprus, where he has lived for the last 20-years.
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This article was written by one of our qualified writers, and fact-checked by our experts. The numbers in parentheses (e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc.) throughout the article, are reference links to peer-reviewed studies.
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2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games Results and Leaderboard – BarBend

The 2021 CrossFit Games are over, and Justin Medeiros and Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr are your 2021 Champions. Patrick Vellner claimed second place and Brent Fikowski placed third on the men’s side. Laura Horvath clinched second and Annie Thorisdottir took third place on the women’s side. Unfortunately, Brooke Wells, who was in seventh place overall before Event 12, injured her right arm attempting to snatch 190 pounds.
The Games returned to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI, running from July 27 through August 1, which hosted over 600 athletes across 27 different divisions as they competed for the title of Fittest on Earth®. Spectators were also allowed to attend this year’s Games, giving the event a different feel than last year’s isolated, dusty affair at The Ranch. For everything CrossFit Games, you can use this page as a hub to check out BarBend’s in-depth coverage of the Games in the form of event recaps, daily recaps, athlete profiles, and more.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic upended the Games structure, leading to a virtual first half and then a 10-athlete Final (five men and five women), which took place in Aromas, CA. Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr handily walked away with the victory, but Fraser has since retired from competitive CrossFit, leaving the top of the podium open. Justin Medeiros capitalized on consistency, and Toomey successfully defended her crown against a larger group. 
The fourth day of competition has come to a close with Event 15 in the books. Justin Medeiros proved that consistency matters as he won just one event and captured the title of Fittest Man on Earth®. Toomey-Orr cemented her dominance in the sport.
Medeiros tore through Event 15, beating runner-up Saxon Panchik by nine seconds. He is now the youngest men’s CrossFit Games winner ever at 22-years-old. Koski of Finland also finished strong with a third-place finish. The women’s event was dominated by Tia-Claire Toomey, but Annie Thorisdottir’s performance broke a third place tie in the standings to earn her third place overall at this year’s Games. 
For time:
600-m row
90 chest-to-bar pull-ups
36-ft. back-rack walking lunge 
36-ft. front-rack walking lunge
36-ft. overhead walking lunge 
135 | 185 lb., short bar
Time cap: 11 min.
This event paired high-level gymnastic skills with a test of raw strength: Athletes have to perform free-standing handstand push-ups (HSPU) paired with heavy deadlifts for an ascending rep scheme of 6-10-14. 
Vellner and Medeiros were the only two men to finish the entire event, and it was a nailer-biter. It came down to the final 14 reps of HSPUs, with both guys missing reps, allowing the other to briefly take the lead. Vellner was able to clinch the win, leaving Medeiros 10 seconds behind him. At this point, Medeiros has a strong 32 point lead. 
Annie Thorisdottir handily completed her HSPUs and remained tight during her deadlift reps to walk away with the win and tie Kristin Holte for third place overall. Toomey-Orr is still in first and Horváth is in second. 
Six-10-14 reps of:
Time cap: seven minutes
Event 13 is done, with the men and women wrapping their heats — just one per division. The first two rounds were pretty even, but the yoke carry proved to be the great equalizer as it was the last task in the round, and each round had a time cap. BKG logged his first event win, with Vellner coming in second (sustaining his overall placing of second) and Medeiros came in third. Medeiros is still the leader of the men. 
Toomey-Orr won her 32nd ever CrossFit Games event, blazing through the event with the fastest time overall. Gabriele Migała moved up to fifth overall with a second-place finish in this event. After this event, Toomey-Orr is essentially a lock to win. Horváth is also in a good spot to claim second place. 
Four rounds of:
Time caps by round: two | two | two | three minutes
Twenty athletes remain and are done with the final event of Day Three — Event 12. No more athlete cuts will take place from here on out, whoever remains will compete for the title of Fittest on earth® Competition for the Individuals start at 10:45 EST and the last of the three events for the day are scheduled to end at around 4:00 p.m. EST.
Points are awarded in the following fashion: first place gets 100 points, second gets 97, third gets 94, fourth gets 91, fifth gets 88, and so on.
All 20 women made it past the first 160-pound snatch in Event 12. Eramo O’Connell failed to hit 170, and then Baylee Rayl and Emily Rolfe missed 175 pounds, with Rayl besting Rolfe in the tiebreaker. Half the women’s field remained for round six, which had competitor’s attempt a 190-pound snatch. Wells suffered her elbow injury and was escorted out of the arena. With 195 pounds loaded on the barbell, just Thorisdottir and Toomey-Orr remained. After the two CrossFit Games champs failed to snatch 205, they went to the tie-breaker — Toomey-Orr just made it over the finish line before the Icelandic athlete. 
The first three men to bow out at 260 pounds were Bayden Brown, Henrik Haapalainen, and Cole Sager. After a few more rounds, 14 guys made it to 280 pounds. Adler, Gudmundsson, and Mayer all failed and ended up racing in the tie-breaker. Mayer won. Then Adler. Then Gudmundsson. 
The final three men were Guilherme Malheirosm Royce Dunne, and Patrick Vellner. The trio attempted 295 pounds, and Vellner couldn’t hang. The other two athletes had a dramatic battle with 300 pounds and then 305 pounds. Dunne failed 305 and then, in front of a roaring audience, the Brazilian snatched the weight to win his third event of the Games. 
Establish a max one-rep snatch.
*Athletes eliminated in the same round competed in a tiebreaker of three snatches for speed and crossing a finish line. Winners scored higher ranks — Men: 225 pounds | Women: 145 pounds
Tia-Clair Toomey is officially the winningest CrossFit Games athlete, with 30 total event wins. After managing to accumulate 231 reps during Event 11, Toomey-Orr has surpassed Mat Fraser’s previous Games win record of 29 wins. 
For most of the event, Holte and Adams were right on top of Toomey, who managed to inch ahead towards the end of the heat. The most pegboard reps at any previous Games was six, according to the broadcast team. That record was shattered well before the time cap — by round eight, Brandon had a double-digit rep lead. The men are currently going. 
And Cole Sager blitzes through Event 11, scoring 276 reps! Jonne Koski moved up to fifth place overall with a fourth-place finish here, and Vellner stays in second over Fikowski with a narrow 14-point lead. Medeiros, despite placing 10th in this event, now has 879 points, widening the gap between him and the two Canadians. 
11-minute AMRAP:
Athletes needed to complete 90 toes-to-bars and run a total of three miles for time. Emily Rolfe scored her first event win of the Games and her second top-five finish. To probably no one’s surprise, Sam “The Engine” Briggs, who won the games in 2013, placed fourth, and 12 seconds ahead of Women’s leader Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr. 
For time:
Time cap: 27 minutes.
The field has now been narrowed to the competition’s final class of 20 men and 20 women heading into the final 5 events of the weekend.
That’s a wrap for day two, folks. Toomey-Orr has secured a handy lead, 140 points over Laura Horvath with 861 points overall. Justin Medeiros mounted a serious comeback to claim the top of the leaderboard with 744 points. 
Here are some big takeaways from day two:
Notable withdrawals: Roman Khrennikov and Stas Solodov are not at the Games due to travel issues, and CrossFit announced that Sean Sweeney is medically withdrawing after Event Five. Four women are also out of the competition — Kari Pearce, Bethany Shadburne, Larissa Cunha, and Svetlana Kubyshkina. Adrian Mundwiler and Dani Speegle have also withdrawn from the competition due to non-COVID-related issues.
Brent Fikowski, who was in second place, prior to Event Nine won his first event of the day. Chandler Smith broke into the top five for the first time at this year’s Games, and Vellner clung on with a fifth-place finish. 
Toomey-Orr seemingly took Event Nine “off” and cruised to fifth place. Amanda Barnhart scored her first event win at the 2021 Games and third event win in her Games career. Before this win, Barnhart was in seventh overall. Also of note, both Fikowski and Barnhart donned Reebok shoes, which means they pick up a $10,000 event win bonus. If you didn’t know, Reebok made the decision to offer $10,000 to event winners wearing Reebok shoes and two grand to second-place finishers.
For time, 21-15-9 reps of the following:
Time cap: eight minutes.
And the oldest Panchik claims his third even CrossFit Games win, while Medeiros maintains a steady lead by upping his point count to 671 points. The handstand walk saw many athletes stopping and starting, with not a single athlete completing the course unbroken. The course consists of three obstacles — stairs to a down-ramp, a ramp to parallel bars, and an up-and-down ramp.
Danielle Brandon soared through the course in 1:43.91. Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr is still in the lead but placed fourth under Brooke Wells in third place and Haley Adams is in second. Kristin Holte got fifth. 
The athletes are about to be turned upside down. Event Eight is a handstand obstacle course for time with a five-minute time cap. 
Guilherme Malheiros of Brazil blitzed through Event Seven with a time of 4:51.61, completing five very heavy clean. Jeffrey Adler, who is known for his strength (remember when he out-totaled Fraser in 2020?), finished the event eight seconds later. Though he placed seventh overall, Medeiros is now the overall points leader for the men with 57. Saxon Panchik moved up to third. 
Toomey-Orr rode her momentum from the first event and then tore through an even heavy array weights to log the fastest overall time of 4:44.93. Horvath got second and Migala managed to place third, a one-spot improvement from Event Six.
Event Seven is virtually the same event, but with a longer time cap, heavier weights, and a longer run. Oof. 
Women: 210 | 215 | 220 | 225 | 230 lb.
Men: 325 | 335 | 340 | 345 | 350 lb.
Time cap: 8 min.
Adler, who was in 22nd place prior to Event Six, scored his first event win of this Games and now has 397 points. Interestingly Saxon Panchik is the only current top-five man to post a win in this event, signaling that a change in event structure could lead to a potential shakeup of the leaderboard.
Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr absolutely crushed the event, tearing through the run and clean cycle faster than any other athlete. Of course, Toomey-Orr’s proclivity with a barbell is well-recorded — she represented Australia in the 2016 Olympic Games and won a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Kristi Eramo O’Connell snagged a very close second place and Kristin Holte propelled herself to second place with 516 points. 
Five rounds for time of:
Men: 245 | 265 | 285 | 305 | 315 pounds
Women: 165 | 175 | 185 | 195 | 205 pounds
Time cap: 7 minutes.
Vellner picks up his second event win of the Games! The Canadian, who now boasts 388 points, finished just ahead of Men’s leader Brent Fikowski, who has 419 points. Toomey-Orr looked human for the first time this Games, coming in sixth place. Laura Horvath of Hungary blitzed through the event in a time of11:41.55 — the fastest time of any athlete. Gabriela Migała of Poland, who sat in 15th overall prior to this event, got second and American Haley Adams placed third. 
The first event is a straightforward test of upper-body strength and endurance. For strongman fans, yes, that is a Husafell-shaped sandbag. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Husafell is a strongman implement (usually made of steel or stone) that is notoriously difficult to hold and stabilize. 
4 rounds for time:
The individuals will start the competition at noon EST. Today, July 30, 2021, there are four events on the docket. Here are the times, according to CrossFit. All times are in EST.
Toomey-Orr leads the women with 397 points overall. The Australian, four-time reigning champ won four of three events during Day One.  Haley Adams is in second and Laura Horvath sits in third. For the Men, Brent Fikowski of Canada is in the number one spot with 322 points. CrossFit Games sophomore Justin Medeiros is in second and Jonne Koski of Finland — who absolutely dominated Event One — is in third place.
As for points, first place gets 100 points, second gets 97, third gets 94, fourth gets 91, and fifth gets 88.
This event taxed the shoulders to a serious degree. Competitors need to complete 55 wall walks followed by 55 barbell thrusters (with 185 pounds). Scott Panchik set a furious pace to finish in 13:39.61, which was just under two minutes quicker than Jay Crouch, who finished second in heat one but fifth overall. Heat two saw Justin Medeiros, Brent Fikowski, and Saxon Panchik sandwiched between Scott and Crouch. Medeiros didn’t get close to Scott’s time but logged his second top-five finish of the day. 
Tia-Clair Toomey showed the first signs of mortality in event four, coming in second to Mallory O’Brien. Still, That puts Toomey at 397 points overall. Cary, who is 17 years old, hung just 10 seconds behind the most dominant woman CrossFitter to ever exist, which is a pretty great achievement for a high schooler. With this event win, O’Brien, who is also 17 years old, becomes the youngest CrossFit Games event winner. Barnhart managed to snag her first top-five finish and Wells got her second top-five finish of the Games. 
[Related: 2021 Crossfit Games Event Four Results]
For time:
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of:
Half an hour after grueling Event Two, the athletes have to sprint five and a half football fields (550 yards) as quickly as possible. Brazilian Guilherme Malherios won a very close heat three to come out on top, sprinting the entire track in 1:15.37. Will Moorad of the USA got second, and Vellner earned 94 points with a third-place win. 
Toomey — to everyone’s surprise, we’re sure — won again. Though, she edged out Brooke Wells by just three-tenths of a second. Haley Adams was right behind them in third. Also of note, this is Danielle Brandon’s second top-five event finish. She’s proving to be consistent early on. 
[Related: 2021 Crossfit Games Event Three Results]
Well, this one is simple, folks. Athletes need to perform a single 550-yard sprint, equivalent to running five and a half football fields. The Men and Women are split into four heats of 10 athletes each. Being split into four heats is a mental challenge as the athletes need to beat the competitors next to them but the ones they can’t see. To win the overall event, athletes need to run as fast as possible for all 550 yards, not just match the pace of the other athletes in the heat. 
What a comeback for Vellner! After placing 35th in Event One, the Canadian CrossFit star made a statement in the muscle-up-heavy second event. After heat one, Samuel Cournoyer set the time to beat at 8:09, and Vellner, who looked like a man on a mission from start to end, finished 27 seconds ahead of Cournoyer. Scott Panchik, who is retiring after this year’s Games, beat out Jason Smith by one second.
Toomey-Orr had already rested for a full minute and nine seconds before runner-up Emma McQuaid of Ireland crossed the finish line for the women. Though Danielle Brandon put up an excellent fight in heat one — which the announcers thought was fueled by the frustration of teammates Karie Pearce and Bethany Shadburne medically withdrawing — three women in Event Two eclipsed her time.
[Related: 2021 Crossfit Games Event Two Results]
The second event is underway, with the Men and Women competing in separate groups. Those groups are competing in two heats. Here is the full event.
For time:
126-ft. sled drag, 180 lbs. | 220 lbs.
5 Pig flips, 350 lbs. | 510 lbs.
12 muscle-ups
12 bar muscle-ups
12 bar muscle-ups
12 muscle-ups
5 Pig flips 
126-ft. sled drag
Time cap: 12 min.
Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr of Australia and Jonne Koski of Finland win the first event of the 2021 CrossFit Games. Koski maintained a dominant lead throughout the swim and kayak portion of the event, while Toomey-Orr pulled away from Tall and Eramo O’Connell toward the end. In doing so, Toomey-Orr secured her 25th Games event win and is now leading the women.
[Related: 2021 Crossfit Games Event One Results]
The very first event of the Games has athletes taking a dip and then hopping in a kayak to paddle their hearts out. Dave Castro teased swimming and paddling early on, which is not a new event in the Games, but then added unique twists: the addition of fins for the swim and a kayak instead of a paddleboard. 
For time:
Both men and women will compete simultaneously, starting at 10 a.m. EST (9 a.m. in Wisconsin). For the rest of the events, men and women will be broken up into two competitive groups. 
Individual athletes had a rest day on July 29, 2021. The competition will resume the morning of Friday, July 30. However, the Adaptive and Age Group divisions finished their third and final day of competition. Here are the results:
 Here are the time slots for the first four events for the Individual competition. All times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Stay tuned as BarBend will update this page frequently throughout the Games to keep you abreast of what’s happening on an event-by-event basis. 
So far, three athletes have had to withdraw due to positive COVID-19 antigen tests. BarBend will update this section if and when more athletes are removed from the Games.
Shadburne is a four-time Games veteran who many believed was primed for a potential podium spot this year. She won the West Coast Classic Semifinal event to qualify for the Games. CrossFit announced that Shadburne tested positive on July 26, 2021. 
Bailey has also competed in four CrossFit Games and three CrossFit Games as a part of Team Rogue Red. He was one of three other athletes who came in contact with either Shadburne or Saunders (who tested positive before the Games but has since tested negative). This year, he was set to compete in the Masters 35-39 Division. 
On the morning of July 28, 2021, an hour before IE1 was set to start, CrossFit announced that the American had tested positive for COVID-19 and was medically withdrawn. Notably, Pearce placed second at the West Coast Classic in 2021 and got third at the 2020 CrossFit Games, ending the five-year American women medal drought. 
The 31-year-old Aussie withdrew herself from competition the morning of July 30, 221, hours before Day Two began. After four events, Saunders sat in 34th place overall. This was Saunder’s ninth appearance in the CrossFit Games.
I gave it a nudge but it wasn’t to be,” Saunders wrote on Instagram. “My health 100% comes first and after attempting a day of competition I realized that all it was doing was sending me backward while my body is still trying to heal.”
Featured Image Courtesy of CrossFit 

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Intra-Cellular Bipolar Drug Shows "Significant" Benefit in Depressive Episodes – BioSpace

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Published: Sep 27, 2021 By Mark Terry
New York-based Intra-Cellular Therapies published the results of its Study 404 phase III trial of lumateperone as monotherapy for major depressive episodes associated with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder. 
The study evaluated 42 mg/day of lumateperone in patients 18 to 75 years of age with a clinical diagnosis of bipolar I or II disorder experiencing a major depressive episode. They were randomized 1:1 to receive the drug or a placebo. The primary and key secondary efficacy endpoints were changed from baseline to day 43 in score on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and total score on the Clinical Global Impressions Scale-Bipolar Version (CGI-BP-S) severity scale, respectively.
On day 43, lumateperone demonstrated significantly greater improvement from baseline in MADRS score compared to placebo and a CGI-PB-S total score.
Along with positive data from Study 402 of lumateperone as adjunctive therapy with lithium or valproate, this data supported the drug as a new treatment for this indication. Studies 404 and 402 are the basis of Caplyta (lumateperone)’s supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for bipolar depression that is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Intra-Cellular has a target action date of December 17, 2021.
“Bipolar depression represents the most prevalent and debilitating presentation of bipolar disorder,” said Gary S. Sachs, Associate Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Founding Director of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General. “There is a critical need for more treatments that are effective and have favorable safety profile. The strong efficacy and impressive safety results reported in this trial for a broad patient population position lumateperone as a potentially important advancement in the treatment of this disorder.”
Caplyta is already approved for schizophrenia in adults. The mechanism of action of the drug in schizophrenia is unknown. The efficacy may be mediated via a combination of antagonist activity at central serotonin 5-H2A receptors and postsynaptic antagonist activity at central dopamine D2 receptors.
“We are excited about the robust results seen across our bipolar depression program,” stated Sharon Mates, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Intra-Cellular Therapies. “This study reported on today, Study 404, our monotherapy study, along with Study 402, our adjunctive study with lithium or valproate form the basis of our supplemental NDAs under FDA review. If approved, we plan to launch immediately and look forward to bringing Caplyta to market for the treatment of bipolar depression.”
On September 20, the company published four manuscripts on its lenrispodun and possible cardiovascular therapeutic effects of Phosphodiesterase Type 1 (PDE1) inhibition.
“PDE1 inhibition restores intracellular signaling by elevating the second messengers cAMP and cGMP in certain pathological states associated with low levels of these signaling molecules,” said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Intra-Cellular. “PDE1 enzymes require calcium and calmodulin for their activation and are expressed in multiple tissues including smooth and cardiac muscle, neurons, and macrophages/microglia providing opportunities to treat multiple diseases.”
The company’s PDE1 inhibitor portfolio is targeting diseases where the PDE1 enzyme is over-expressed and/or abnormal immune cell function adds to disease pathology. This includes Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, and some cancers. 
Lenrispodun is a potent and selective PDE1 inhibitor, the lead compound of the company’s PDE1 portfolio. It is under development for Parkinson’s and heart failure.
The Lumateperone Pivotal Phase III Study in bipolar depression is published online in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
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Meet the Virginia conservationist trying to turn old coalfields into solar farms – Energy News Network

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Chatter about the potential of covering played-out coalfields in central Appalachia with solar arrays has simmered for years. Progress on the first pair of such projects is on the verge of coming to a full boil because a nonprofit pursued a pair of companies with the technical know-how.
The Nature Conservancy is partnering with utility giant Dominion Energy to install roughly 50 megawatts of solar power on 1,200 acres of the former Red Onion surface mine and surrounding properties in Virginia’s Wise and Dickenson counties. That’s enough to power 12,500 homes at peak output.
That September update came on the heels of a mid-May announcement that the conservancy had joined with Sun Tribe, a Charlottesville solar developer, and Washington, D.C.-based Sol Systems to construct up to 75 MW of solar nearby. Those half dozen sites range in size from 70 to 125 acres. Four are in Wise County, one is in Dickenson County and a sixth is in Tennessee.
Virginia native Brad Kreps, who directs the conservancy’s Clinch Valley Program, said solar projects have been top of mind since 2019 when the nonprofit acquired the 253,000-acre Cumberland Forest property. An estimated 13,000 acres of cleared minelands pock the biologically rich landscape that stretches across Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.
All but 100,000 acres of the Cumberland Forest are in the historic Virginia coal counties of Wise, Dickenson, Russell and Buchanan.
“For us, acquiring the Cumberland Forest property and becoming a landowner put us in a stronger position to actually try this,” said Kreps, an Abingdon resident with two decades of conservancy experience. “It gave us a chance to reach out to partners and say, ‘Help us really look at this, find sites that are viable, and create value for nature and people.’”
Both Sun Tribe and Dominion expect the showcase projects—with a combined output of around 120 to 125 MW — to be online within the next two or three years.
“It was incumbent on us to go out and find companies that are compatible with our values and approach,” Kreps said.
Dominion is seeking to expand its renewable energy portfolio because the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which took effect in July 2020, requires the utility to generate 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045.
Kreps and the conservancy credit the landmark legislation as the linchpin that allowed the state to muscle its way to the forefront on generating renewable energy where fossil fuels were once harvested.
For instance, the landmark legislation requires that Dominion procure 200 MW of solar or wind on brownfields, coal-mined lands and other previously developed sites such as parking lots by 2035. It allows the utility to venture outside its service territory boundaries to do so. 
Adam Wells, regional director of community and economic development for the advocacy organization Appalachian Voices, praised the conservancy for its pioneering spirit. Wells has plenty of experience trying to launch rooftop solar projects in the coalfields of Virginia — and beyond.
“It’s a venture into the unknown,” Wells said, adding that it’s more likely to be successful due to the conservancy’s heft, expertise and long history of collaboration. “The advantage of the nonprofit structure is that it’s able to absorb risk.”
In this interview with the Energy News Network, Kreps explains the conservancy’s approach to renewable energy development on previously disturbed lands. This piece was lightly edited for clarity and length.  
Q: First, why did the conservancy acquire the Cumberland Forest property in 2019? 
A: Context matters, so it’s important for people to understand that the Appalachian Mountains are one of the conservancy’s top priorities. Our organization has selected these mountains, which extend from Alabama to Canada, as one of the top four landscapes on Earth to address climate change challenges and biodiversity. The other three are Kenya, Borneo and the Amazon. 
We set up a private limited partnership to be able to acquire land at scale in the Cumberland Forest. First and foremost, our goal is to protect and conserve the forest. We also want to help people by managing the area in a way that supports the economic transition and diversification of the region. That means we’re also working on outdoor tourism and recreation.
Solar is beneficial because it generates clean energy and brings new investment to former minelands.
Being successful with the Cumberland Forest model will lead us to big, ambitious conservation projects in the greater Appalachian corridor.
Q: People have talked about installing solar panels on deforested minelands for years. The conservancy is actually doing it. Is it daunting to lead on this front? 
A: The conservancy loves a good challenge. It’s exciting to be on the leading edge. These are some of the first projects — in the whole country, not just central Appalachia — to demonstrate that we can build solar on former minelands.
One of the most important aspects is that we are learning a tremendous amount by doing. At some point, you have to take the bull by the horns.
Q: What is the timeline for Highlands Solar, the just-announced project with Dominion?
A: We are the landowner and have leased the development opportunity to Dominion Energy, so Dominion drives the timeline. It looks as if construction will happen on a 2024-25 schedule.
The way I try to explain it is that the preconstruction part of the project takes several years and has a lot of different pieces. It’s a really important behind-the-scenes process. That includes a site assessment to determine which areas are suitable for arrays, figuring out the condition of the land, working on an interconnection agreement to tie into the electric grid, installing infrastructure, and getting the appropriate local, state and environmental permits.
Once built, it will operate for roughly 35 years. After that, there’s the reclamation phase because as a landowner we want assurances so we can decide the future of that land.
Q: Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, called the project a “huge win” for the region’s economy. How does that translate to local tax revenues and local jobs? 
A: I don’t have specific numbers but I’m confident about tax revenues being generated.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act sets the framework, but the specifics on tax revenue structure happens in conversations between the solar developer and the local communities. 
Similarly, we are confident these projects will create jobs in all the phases. The developers do all of the hiring. We are urging them to connect with local people and we think they are interested in doing that.
I should also note that the developers of both projects are very interested in local job training and workforce development. In tandem with construction, the conservancy will be working with the developers to devise a broader community benefits plan that involves businesses, nonprofits, area governments and community colleges.
Q: What’s the status of the solar project you announced in May, with Sun Tribe and Sol Systems?
A: Since the announcement, they have been busy. They are rolling up their sleeves and going through the checklist of things they need to work through to get to construction. They are in the predevelopment phase where they are moving forward with site assessment and interconnection.
Q: How do these solar projects mesh with your organization’s wheelhouse of undertaking conservation with the looming threat of climate change?
A: There are lots of tools in the toolbox when it comes to mitigating climate change. First, our leading priority in the Cumberland Forest is to conserve and manage existing forests as carbon sinks and as habitat for an array of species.
To achieve anything on the climate change front, we have to be aggressive on renewable energy. A big part of our platform is being smart about where we site renewable energy projects. By keying in on former surface mines, we can increase clean energy production and keep the surrounding forest intact.
Q: If you get pushback from members wondering why you’re pursuing solar instead of reforesting the minelands, what do you tell them?
A: We are going to do both and we’re going to be smart about where we do solar and where we do reforestation. About 85% of the Cumberland Forest is forested and about 15% is minelands.
Remember, we’re trying to manage the forest to create benefits for nature and people, so we’re seeking the optimal outcome. In some places, we think solar is the winner because minelands are flat, large enough and near utility infrastructure. On other parts of the minelands we are going to plant trees because reforesting makes the most sense.
It’s not an either/or; it’s all of the above.
Q: Your Virginia projects add up to an estimated 120 megawatts of solar energy. How does that move the needle on climate change?
A: It’s a small step. The value of these projects is the concept. We’re trying to show we can successfully build solar on these former minelands.
When we look regionally and at our neighbors in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, many of those minelands could be great sites for solar projects. We’re trying to lead by doing and create a successful approach.
Hopefully when we revisit that question, we will see other solar projects pop up in central Appalachia. It may only be 120 megawatts, but they’re really important megawatts. If we generate them, we’ll be unlocking more solar.
Q: Is there a limit to the number of megawatts of solar projects the Cumberland Forest property can support?
A: Yes, there is a limit. Solar is part of a bigger strategy where we’re taking a targeted approach. By that filter alone, there is a limit because we’re not going to convert existing forest to solar projects.
Q: When will you be announcing the next project in Virginia? 
A: We don’t have any plans for that right now. We’re focused on helping our first two batches of projects be successful.
Once these Virginia projects get up and running, we will evaluate opportunities in Tennessee and Kentucky. Interest was high in Virginia because of the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Tennessee and Kentucky don’t have that enabling legislation.
Q: You’ve talked about your initial projects serving as a model for other coal mining regions in the United States. How does that happen?
A: The conservancy definitely has a bigger vision at a national level that we call Mining the Sun. That initiative is driven by the concept of how can we repurpose former minelands, both coal and hardrock, for renewable energy. We also want to help bring reinvestment to communities that are transitioning.
Every state is a little different, so it’s important to share ideas and bring other states along. For instance, the Virginia Clean Economy Act is an enabling policy because it sent a signal to the market and utilities that this is where the state wants to go. We want to learn how that legislation can be a model for other states.
Q: And lastly, it has been a busy year for the conservancy. When you’re not focused on work, what are three of your favorite pursuits?
A: I’m an outdoor junkie. Being out in those beautiful Appalachian Mountains, camping, paddling, rock climbing and hiking restores my passion for conserving these landscapes. 
I also play drums in a band. We shut down in the early stages of the pandemic, but now practice on my back porch and are able to do outdoor performances.
We’re constantly trying to think of a new name because we hate our name, “The Boys.” We started with bluegrass and morphed into a fusion of bluegrass with funk and jazz. We joke about being an Appalachian band with an identity crisis.
Elizabeth is a longtime energy and environment reporter who has worked for InsideClimate News, Energy Intelligence and Crain Communications. Her groundbreaking dispatches for InsideClimate News from Kalamazoo, Michigan, “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You Never Heard Of” won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2013. Elizabeth covers the state of Virginia. Her book, “Outpedaling ‘The Big C’: My Healing Cycle Across America” is available from Bancroft Press.

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Other news to note for Sept. 29, 2021 | 2021-09-29 – BioWorld Online

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Biohaven drug licensed from AstraZeneca fails Phase 3 test in rare neuro disorder – MedCity News

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By Frank Vinluan
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A Biohaven Pharmaceuticals drug acquired from AstraZeneca has failed a pivotal study testing it as a treatment for the rare neurodegenerative disease multiple system atrophy.
The drug, verdiperstat, did not produce statistically significant results compared to a placebo, the New Haven, Connecticut-based neurological medicines developer announced Monday. The company provided no specific details about those data, which are still being analyzed. Biohaven said full study results will be presented at a future scientific meeting.
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) leads to a progressive degeneration of the parts of the brain that control muscle movement and speech, as well as the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system governing involuntary actions. There are no FDA-approved therapies for the disorder, which becomes fatal. Treatments address symptoms of the disease.
Verdiperstat was originally developed by AstraZeneca. The small molecule is designed to penetrate into the brain where it blocks an enzyme called myeloperoxidase. This approach was intended to reduce activation of microglia, an immune cell of the central nervous system. Activation of these cells is thought to be associated with the neuroinflammation characteristic of MSA. AstraZeneca completed a placebo-controlled Phase 2 study enrolling 59 patients, where the drug fell short of the main goal of reducing microglia activation.
The AstraZeneca drug did post encouraging results according to an exploratory goal that assessed patients according to rating scale that measures MSA progression. Based on those data, Biohaven licensed rights to the drug in 2018, paying a little more than $7 million in cash and stock, according to securities filings. The Connecticut company proceeded to advance verdiperstat into a Phase 3 test enrolling 336 patients at 48 sites across the world. In this larger clinical trial, showing a change according to the MSA rating scale was the main goal. On that measure, the study did not replicate the results observed in Phase 2 testing.
Despite verdiperstat’s clinical trial failure in MSA, Biohaven has not given up on the drug yet. Targeting brain inflammation could address other diseases, and the company is also testing the drug in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Verdiperstat is one of the drugs selected for a pivotal study being conducted by the Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS in collaboration with the Northeast ALS Consortium. This placebo-controlled study is testing multiple drugs, including Biohaven’s. The part of the study evaluating verdiperstat is expected to complete enrollment of about 160 ALS patients in the fourth quarter of this year.
The Biohaven pipeline also includes troriluzole, which has been tested in several neurological conditions. Last year, the drug failed a Phase 3 test in generalized anxiety disorder, leading the company to discontinue development in that indication. Early this year, the company announced the drug failed to meet the main goal of a separate Phase 2/3 test in Alzheimer’s disease. Late stage tests of troriluzole are ongoing in obsessive compulsive disorder and spinocerebellar ataxia.
Biohaven has commercialized one drug, Nurtec, which was approved last year for acute migraine. In May, the FDA approved an additional indication, migraine prevention. In the second quarter of this year, Biohaven reported $92.9 million in product revenue, a more than $83 million increase compared to the same period in 2020.
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Claw Your Way to a Six Pack With the Bear Plank – BarBend

Have you ever wanted beastly muscles? The ones that can help you run faster, jump higher, or catch a salmon with the swipe of your hand? Okay, maybe not that last one, but the bear plank helps improve core strength and stability, which has several benefits to overall strength and performance.
This isometric exercise will not only torch your core, but it also activates muscles throughout your whole body. Not sure how to do it, or unsure of what we’re even talking about? Here’s how to do the bear plank. 
Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice and/or supervision from a medical professional. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Speak with your physician if you have any concerns.
Although the bear plank may look simple, it’s sure to get your body burning from your shoulders down to your quads. Below is a straightforward guide on how to perform the bear plank.
The set-up for the bear plank is similar to a standard plank. Your hands should be stacked under your shoulders, and your back should stay flat. However, your body should be in what is commonly known as a tabletop position. Bend your knees 90 degrees, so they are stacked under your hips. From the tabletop position, slightly shift your weight forward to put more support on your shoulders. Tighten your core, quads, and glutes to maintain a strong, stable base. 
While keeping your toes planted on the floor, lift your knees about an inch off of the ground. You should feel tension in your core, shoulders, and quads. Hold this position until it becomes unbearable. Hold this position until you can longer sustain proper form.
Coach’s Tip: If you’re unsure how you look while planking, film yourself or have a friend take a video. 
Once you know how to properly perform a bear plank, we can discuss the benefits of the exercise in detail. Besides the ability to perform it anywhere, it’s beneficial to your core, shoulders, and overall performance
One of the more difficult muscles in your body to engage are your lower abdominals. Part of your rectus abdominis, the lower abs can be harder to work because many common core exercises don’t target them. You may see gym-goers perform sit-ups to achieve abs, but exercises where your ribs move to your pelvis target more of your upper abs.
Your abdominal muscles are postural muscles that support the spine. Therefore, the more you strengthen these supporting players, the more you can potentially improve your posture. Bad posture is not only bad for aesthetics, but it can also result in low back pain. A study from 2016 suggests that specific core exercises that target the upper and lower abdominals help prevent low back pain because a strong core means a stable spine. (1
The bear plank is also a great variation to the regular plank, especially for those with low back pain because the bent knees don’t require as much stress on the back. 
The core helps to reinforce the spine and aids in producing force when running, jumping, squatting, and other athletic activities. One study suggests that a stronger core may help running performance because of the ability to control, support, and move the upper body, which transfers force to the lower body. (2
The bear plank may seem only like a core exercise because of the placement of the body and the required control and stability. It really targets the whole body.
The rectus abdominis is the muscle that many people know as the “six-pack.” These muscles flex your spine forward and back. Like any muscle, they can be strengthened through tension-inducing exercises. However, to see your abs, you might need to swap out pizza for whey protein shakes and ensure your macros are in check
The external and internal obliques are located on either side of the torso and are responsible for side bending and rotating the torso. It’s essential to have strong obliques because when you twist the trunk, not only does our core contract, but so does your back and shoulders. 
The bear plank is an isometric exercise. However, the position imitates a squat since your knees are parallel to your hips. One of the primary muscles used in a squat is your quadriceps, and they are responsible for helping you walk, stand, and run. Even though you’re static in a bear plank, your quads are working to hold your knees off the ground and stabilize your hips
With a portion of your body weight supported by your shoulders, the bear plank is a good way to target your deltoids. These muscles are responsible for shoulder flexion, extension, and abduction. Aside from potential injury prevention, strong shoulders can help you lift heavier in exercises that involve the chest and the back.
Since bears are already in a natural bear plank position, let’s talk about which humans can benefit from performing this exercise. 
The bear plank is a great way to build strength in some of the major muscle groups of the body, so competitive athletes such as football players, may benefit from practicing this exercise. A stronger core may also help improve athletic performance that involves quick, explosive movements
Although you may not see a bear plank in a WOD, it is an excellent way for CrossFitters to warm up the core and shoulders before a workout with pull-ups, handstand push-ups, overhead squats, and more.
The bear plank can be great for anyone, especially since it can be done anywhere and requires no equipment. You can achieve all the benefits of the standard plank, core and shoulder strength and stability, and full-body activation, without putting too much pressure on your low back. So whether you are a seasoned or novice gymgoer, the bear plank is a beneficial exercise to add to your training program.
The bear plank is sure to get your whole body roaring but can be difficult when just starting. Building up your endurance with this move can help improve stability in your core and spine, but you’ll want to commit to performing it, no matter how much it burns.
According to a 2019 study, core endurance is crucial to spine stability, especially for prolonged exercise. (2) To build core endurance, you’ll want to start by performing sets and progressing the duration day by day. 
Start by holding the bear plank in 10-30 second intervals at a time for four to five sets. The time is based on your present core endurance. Take short rests in between each set. As you build your endurance, start holding for longer durations up to one to two minutes. 
If you’re looking to change up your body weight bear plank and build up muscular strength, try adding a weight plate to your back. This progression should only be done when you’ve nailed the bodyweight bear plank with proper form and is best to do with a workout buddy.
Start in your normal bear plank position, making sure you’re sturdy and stable. Add a lighter weight plate at first and place it on your back (this is where that workout buddy comes in handy). Hold the position for 10-30 seconds for two to three sets, taking ample rest between sets. Add heavier weight as form and strength allow. 
When you’re ready to up your bear plank game, there are plenty of ways to make the move more challenging and maybe even more fun. These variations turn the isometric bear plank into a dynamic movement but still require little to no equipment. 
You’ll need a little bit more room for the bear crawl, but it’s worth it for the extra dynamic intensity. Hold the bear plank position, keeping your back flat and core tight. Use your right arm and left leg to crawl forward while still keeping your knees off the ground. Then switch to your left arm and right leg to move again. Continue this motion until fatigued.  
This is a great variation to achieve a little more glute activation and test your balance. Starting in the bear plank position, slowly lift one foot off the ground, pointing your heel to the ceiling. Make sure not to lift your foot too high, or your back might arch, and you’ll defeat the purpose of the move. Repeat on the other side. 
Bear plank hops are great if you’re looking to train power into this movement. Smaller, quick movements are beneficial for this variation. Hold the bear plank position and slightly shift your weight forward. Quickly kick both feet off the ground, driving them back so you’re in a plank position. Then, hop them back into place. 
The bear plank can be difficult to master, especially if you’re still building up core strength to keep proper form. There are alternatives to this exercise that will still engage your core and give variety to your workout.
Bird dogs are a great way to activate the core, thighs, and glutes while incorporating balance and coordination. It also teaches bodily control as you move your limbs simultaneously while working to maintain balance.
The plank is similar to the bear plank but does require more core stability since your legs are extended and not bent. The same technique rules apply — set your hands under your shoulders, keep your back flat, and core tight. This is great for those trying to up their core engagement game.
Although it may look simple, the bear plank is a great way to engage muscles throughout your whole body while improving spine stability, making it a worthy inclusion into your next core workout. It might burn and you might feel sore afterward, but it’s worth it for the results, so just grin and bear it. 
This is a common mistake with the bear plank and just plank variations in general. The inability to keep your back flat can be due to a lack of core strength. The best thing to do is to perform progression exercises until you can maintain proper form. Otherwise your workout won’t be as efficient. 
Some people tend to want to look forward because that might be where your mirror is, or you want to look at what’s happening around you. However, it’s important to keep your eyes on the ground and your neck in a neutral position to avoid straining your neck. 
Featured Image: Christian Fabrizio on YouTube

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How to Boost Your Well-Being During Pandemic Lockdowns – Healthline

For many people, stay-at-home orders and other public health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered their daily routines.
This includes how much time they spent outdoors, which a new study suggests may have also impacted their sleep patterns and overall well-being.
“Social restrictions impaired all aspects of well-being, with sleep quality, quality of life, physical activity, and productivity deteriorating and screen time increasing [in the midpoint],” the authors wrote in a paper published September 21, 2021, in the Journal of Sleep Research.
Researchers surveyed over 11,000 people from 40 countries, with most responses coming from the United States, United Kingdom, Portugal, and several other countries.
People answered questions about their daily behaviors and lifestyle both before and during social restrictions, including their work status, sleep times, and use of an alarm clock to wake up.
Researchers found that many people experienced drops in their quality of life, physical activity levels, and productivity during pandemic restrictions. Many also saw increases in their screen time.
In addition, more than 70 percent of people spent less time outside during daylight hours when restrictions were in place. This drop in daylight exposure occurred on both workdays and free days.
People with larger decreases in time spent outdoors during restrictions were more likely to have larger drops in sleep quality, physical activity time, quality of life, and screen-free time.
In contrast, people who slept longer — and those who used their alarm clock less often — were more likely to see improvements in sleep quality and quality of life.
However, not everyone was affected negatively during the restrictions.
“Many [study] participants also reported no changes or even improvements [in well-being],” the researchers wrote. “Notably, more participants reported no changes in [sleep quality] than deterioration or improvements.”
The mental health impact of the restrictions may be partially due to the stress of the pandemic and being asked to stay at home.
However, the researchers said decreased exposure to outdoor daylight and increased screen time could have also affected people’s circadian rhythms, or biological clock.
These are the internal rhythms that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, as well as many other processes in the body.
Disruptions in the circadian rhythms can occur due to jet lag, shift work, and exposure to light from electronic devices at night.
These changes can cause sleep disorders and may also lead to chronic health problems such as depression, diabetes, obesity, and seasonal affective disorder.
Other research has found that regular exposure to natural daylight during the daytime can help keep people’s circadian rhythms in sync with the natural dark-light cycle outside.
This research also suggests that natural daylight exposure could help people sleep better and improve their mental health.
Scientists continue to study the link between daylight exposure and physical and mental health. But for the authors of the new study, the implications are clear.
“Strategies to improve well-being under social restrictions… should actively foster spending more daytime outdoors and keeping good sleep hygiene,” they wrote.
In some areas under stay-at-home orders, exercise was considered an essential activity, which allowed people to get outside during daylight hours. Expanding this during future stay-at-home orders could help minimize the impact of the restrictions.
Getting outside regularly is one of those mental health boosts that is good any time, not just during pandemic restrictions.
There are also other ways to take care of your mental health, especially right now, when many people are dealing with stress related to the pandemic.
Getting a good night’s sleep can go a long way toward improving your overall well-being and your mental health.
This involves more than just going to bed on time. Your daily habits and activities, and even your food choices, can impact your sleep.
To improve your sleep quality, try establishing healthy sleep habits, such as:
A big part of sleep hygiene is figuring out what works for you.
If you regularly have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or often wake up tired, talk with a sleep specialist or other medical professional.
They can identify underlying physical problems that could be disrupting your sleep, and help you get your sleep back on track.
A growing number of studies have found that it is possible to develop certain aspects of mental well-being through intentional mental training, even during a pandemic.
This includes dimensions of well-being such as awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.
“Well-being is a skill. It’s actually something that you can learn by practicing, just as you can learn other skills that are acquired through practice,” said Richard J. Davidson, PhD, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds and a professor of psychology and psychiatry at University of Wisconsin–Madison.
This doesn’t diminish the need to change the external conditions that affect mental health, he said, including the structural issues in our society that disproportionately impact certain groups.
“But there are things that each one of us could do to improve our well-being,” he said. “I liken it to taking care of our personal mental hygiene.”
Just like brushing our teeth is a simple daily habit that is important for our dental hygiene, Davidson said there are mental exercises that can be practiced each day for a short time to improve our well-being.
This includes mental exercises such as meditation and mindfulness-based practices, as well as other personal practices like journaling and gratitude exercises.
Not everyone, of course, is comfortable with these. But even psychotherapy and creative problem-solving have been shown to improve certain aspects of well-being.
Davidson cautions that these methods are no substitute for professional treatment for a serious mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.
However, he says practicing these kinds of well-being exercises every day can help strengthen your “mental resilience muscle” so it’s ready when you need it.
“We need to engage in this practice regularly so that when we encounter adversity, we have resources built up to help us navigate that adversity with greater facility,” he said.