Faculty in the News: April 27, 2010

Jasper Smits

Faculty in the News: April 27, 2010

Jasper Smits, Psychology, Dedman College, discussed his research on how exercise can help get rid of anxiety with USA Today April 26, 2010.

Peter Weyand, Applied Physiology and Wellness, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, discussed the recent selection of single-amputee distance runner Amy Palmiero-Winters to the U.S. track team for an article that appeared in USA Today April 26, 2010.

Mary Spector, Dedman School of Law, talked about issues that arise when debt-collection companies use litigation to collect past-due bills for an article that appeared in The New York Times April 22, 2010.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about civil-rights ramifications in the case of a gay couple seeking a divorce in Texas with The Fort Worth Star-Telegram April 20, 2010. He also discussed the popularity – and speaking fees – of Sarah Palin with the Star-Telegram April 19, 2010.

Alan Bromberg, Dedman School of Law, talked about the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s fraud suit against Goldman Sachs with CNN Money April 19, 2010.

Bernard Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, wrote about creating a nuclear renaissance by reprocessing nuclear fuel in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram April 17, 2010.

Brian Bruce, EnCap Investments & LCM Group Alternative Asset Management Center, Cox School of Business, discussed how volatile markets have pushed some to invest in gold and jewels for an article published in The Chicago Tribune April 14, 2010.

David Meltzer, Anthropology, Dedman College, and Vance Holliday of the University of Arizona discussed how Paleoindians coped with climate change 11,000 years ago with Science News April 12, 2010.

Stan Wojewodski, Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts, discussed his career and his work with Dallas’ Undermain Theatre as part of a profile that appeared in The Dallas Morning News April 10, 2010. He becomes chair of the Meadows Division of Theatre in Fall 2010.

Carolyn Macartney, Cinema-TV, Meadows School of the Arts, discussed her upcoming film about the life of her grandmother – a former Wild West sharpshooter who was billed as Wanda Savage – with The Dallas Morning News April 9, 2010.

April 27, 2010|Faculty in the News|

Research Spotlight: Exercise is the Rx for depression, anxiety

Exercies%20for%20anxiety%2C%20swimmer%2C%20150.jpgExercise is a magic drug for many people with depression and anxiety disorders, according to researchers who analyzed numerous studies, and it should be more widely prescribed by mental health care providers.

“Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health,” says Jasper Smits, director of SMU’s Anxiety Research and Treatment Program. “The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be.”

The traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy don’t reach everyone who needs them, says Smits, an associate professor of psychology.

“Exercise can fill the gap for people who can’t receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don’t want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments,” he says. “Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged.”

Exercise%20for%20anxiety%2C%20weights%2C%20400.jpgSmits and Michael Otto, psychology professor at Boston University, presented their findings to researchers and mental health care providers March 6 at the Anxiety Disorder Association of America’s annual conference in Baltimore.

Their workshop was based on their therapist guide “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders,” with accompanying patient workbook (Oxford University Press, September 2009).

The guide draws on dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews that demonstrate the efficacy of exercise programs, including the authors’ meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and study on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise.

“Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger,” Smits says. “Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing.”

After patients have passed a health assessment, Smits says, they should work up to the public health dose, which is 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.

At a time when 40 percent of Americans are sedentary, he says, mental health care providers can serve as their patients’ exercise guides and motivators.

“Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program – which can be difficult to sustain – we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits,” he says. “After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy – and you’ll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise.”

Smits says health care providers who prescribe exercise also must give their patients the tools they need to succeed, such as the daily schedules, problem-solving strategies and goal-setting featured in his guide for therapists.

“Therapists can help their patients take specific, achievable steps,” he says. “This isn’t about working out five times a week for the next year. It’s about exercising for 20 or 30 minutes and feeling better today.”

Written by Sarah Hanan

> Read more at the SMU Research blog

April 7, 2010|Research|

For the Record: Oct. 4, 2007

Winslow Homer's 'Eight Bells'Randall Griffin, Art History, has received the Dallas Museum of Art’s Vasari Award for the second time in three years. He was chosen for the 2007 award for his book Winslow Homer: An American Vision (Phaidon). The Vasari Award is given annually to an author working in Texas “whose book provides insight into works of art or aspects of art history and theory that enriches the understanding of visual arts.” Griffin’s 2007 co-winner is Anthony Alofsin, the Roland Gommel Roessner Centennial Professor of Architecture and Professor of Art and Art History at UT-Austin. (Left, Winslow Homer’s Eight Bells, which will appear in the Meadows Museum’s “Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s,” opening Nov. 30.)

Shlomo Weber, Economics, is the new academic director of the International School of Economics in Tbilisi, Georgia. He will visit during the coming year to work with students, faculty, staff and other community members.

Tatiana Zimakova, Russian Area Studies, has been nominated for a Lone Star Emmy Award in the category of Magazine Program-Feature/Segment for her Dallas Schools Television program, “A Taste of Russia.” The show aired on WFAA Channel 8 and KERA Channel 13 in spring 2007 and features urban elementary and middle school students who are studying the Russian language and learning about Russian culture, history and food. “A Taste of Russia” focuses on the interdisciplinary aspect of the students’ studies and the students’ performance at SMU’s 2007 Russian Festival 2007 last March. Lone Star Emmy winners will be announced at a ceremony Oct. 27 in Dallas.

Jasper Smits, Psychology, has received the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies‘ 2007 President’s New Researcher Award for his paper entitled “Cognitive Mechanisms of Social Anxiety Reduction: An Examination of Specificity and Temporality.” Two co-authors on the award-winning paper also are from SMU Psychology: Renee McDonald and David Rosenfield.

Anthony Cortese, Sociology, has been appointed to a three-year term on the Advisory Panel for the newly established Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religion in the Perkins School of Theology.

October 5, 2007|For the Record|
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