• Tag Archives fitness
  • Inflamed Depression

    Could inflammation cause depression?

    Researchers: Depression May Be a Physical Illness Linked to Inflammation

    Although current treatments for depression mostly focus on brain chemicals such as serotonin, scientists now think inflammation throughout the entire body (triggered by an overactive immune system) may be the root cause of the problem. Widespread inflammation, they posit, could be producing feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness, and fatigue.

    No studies have been done as yet, so it’s all up in the air at the moment, but at least someone is asking questions… so why am I interested?
    I have consistently found that if I have too much sugar or carbohydrates, the next day I wake up feeling like I have been hit by a truck.
    My torso feels like it has a boa constrictor wrapped around it, and my joints are very stiff and sore, this will persist for hours, if not all day.
    In short, I feel like parts of me are very inflamed.
    I’m not yet to the point of keeping a food diary, but pasta, scotch (whiskey), stout, beer and any sort of cake or cookies are known triggers.

    Food for thought.

  • Christian school with fitness trackers – what could go wrong?

    File this one in your crazy bucket…..


    Can a Fitbit distinguish between cross-fit and carnal knowledge? It doesn’t matter, says Oral Roberts University (ORU) officials, because they won’t be scanning data for signs of student coitus anyway. The school now requires that all of its incoming students use (and pay for) Fitbit trackers during the spring semester. That caused some speculation that the devices could invade students’ privacy, particularly since they can be used to monitor sexual activity. However, the school says it isn’t using the devices to enforce its code of conduct forbidding pre-marital sex.

    Rather, the reasons are more prosaic, though still slightly Orwellian. ORU gives students a pass/fail grade for doing exercise during the term and will use the trackers to monitor students’ steps and heart rate.

    Ok, look, just to help you out, here is the link to an article (safe for work. Mostly) that shows a woman’s heart rate from her fitness tracker during sex (it’s a graph, but there is a side photo of a fully covered woman in bed).

    And yes, I could share my fitness tracker heart rate graph, but no… You guys are not seeing that!

    Ok, now that we have all that out of the way, can please we get back to the article.
    A christian school is putting heart rate trackers on their teenage students.
    What could possibly go wrong??

  • Crowdsourced depression treatments

    I never knew about this website;


    About CureTogether

    Imagine patients around the world coming together to share quantitative information on over 500 medical conditions. They talk about sensitive symptoms and compare which treatments work best for them. They track their health. New research discoveries are made based on the patient-contributed data. This is happening at CureTogether, and we believe it can have a massive global impact.

    First I saw of it was this graphic popped up in one of my feeds as a side image to the main article.

    depression solutions

    This is what got my attention.
    You can read a bit more about it on their website;

    Given that it is all done by crowdsourcing is both interesting and a caution note worthy.
    It would be people from all walks of life, the only one thing to be sure about is that they surf the web. And that’s the caution, you could be reading anything by anyone.
    But, that said, my thought is that since that chart is built from pretty close to 5000 people, it would (should) sorta average out.

    Here is my take away.
    I blogged about how this year I want to focus on my physical health to improve my mental health.
    Well, it would seem that according to a whole bunch of people I am on the right track with that approach.

    Have not blogged about it yet, but I am also making an effort to do Yoga each morning, and yup, yoga is on the graph. (Middle left)…. Pretty happy to see it up there.
    Of course, exercise is front and center, well, top right… which means it’s very effective and used by a lot of people to manage their depression.
    We will do another blog in a few weeks how my quantified year is going (it’s only been around 6 weeks at this stage, I want to get at least 8 week under my belt before we even start to draw conclusions) in this regard.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I was really really encouraged to see that I am not totally off my rocker to think that by managing my physical health, I can impact (in a positive way) my mental health.

    As for the ‘Adequate Sleep’ thing….. lets just say that is a work in progress and we will blog more about that specific topic once we have a little more data.

  • 2016 – Quantified Self year

    I am interested in actually doing something to change things this year.
    Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.
    The past few years I feel I have just been in survival mode, but it seems that if we don’t make some changes, that is all we are going to be doing, just surviving. Bearly.

    If I just run this year through the same algorithm as last years, what is going to change?
    What can I change? What do I want to change?
    I have noticed a solid link between my physical health and my mental health.
    While I am (pretty) happy with my physical health, I am pretty far from Ok with the state of my mental health….. Have considered medication for that side of things, and it is pretty safe to say that we tried drinking my way to better mental health last year, but neither of those options are sustainable or put in things in my control.
    What does that leave?
    Fine tuning (correcting?) my brain via fine tuning my physical health.

    What data do I have on last years physical health?
    Running data from Strava. That’s it.
    strava 2015

    Is that all we did physically in 2015? No, we did a lot more, but I do not have a single record of any of it.

    So, here then is my focus for the next few weeks. By the end of January I want to have in place some devices / software to track as much of my physical activity as possible.

    It is a small start, but here we are in groov…. Since I use it every single day, it made sense to me to put more of me data into it.
    groov health data

    Halfway into the month and we have made a pretty good start.
    I can log, manually and automatically, more of my activity.
    The plan is to write a quick script in the next few days to push this data into a MySQL database so that we can store it for more than a year, but also once it is in something like a database, then there are many tools that we can use to extract and analyze the data. As you know, AI is just around the corner for the common man, so in say 2-3 years time, I will have a wealth of data that new (as of 2016) tools, that do not currently exist, can be applied to that data set.
    Of course, in the meantime, I will have data to start looking for patterns myself.

    We are currently using Withings devices and software to do a lot of the tracking. (They have a rough and ready API so I can pull the data and import it into groov).
    withings dashboard

    At the moment I have their body analyzer (a set of scales that weigh and electrocute you – that’s how you work out body fat, your resistance to electricity) and blood pressure cuff. But am looking for heart rate, skin temperature and skin conductivity. (Extra points if I can find a wearable device that tracks respiration rate)
    At the moment I do not have a sensor for those, but am looking hard to find something as soon as I can that will track it and expose it via software so I can get it into my database.
    Those bits of data will not be in the Withings dashboard, so hence the interest in getting as much as I can into groov and my own database. (I also don’t trust any company to keep my data long term).

    So, here we are, day 13 of 2016 and we are making a late start, but a start none the less.
    Once we can see some cause and effects, we can start to make some changes and so can look forward to seeing some positive reinforcement on those changes.

    I just can’t let myself have (yet) another year like the past 5.