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A Beginners Guide to the Rowing Machine

By Dana G. Smith, NY Times

Rowing machines used to be the pieces of gym equipment that were always open, or collecting dust in the back corners. But in the last six years, the popularity of rowing machines, also called ergometers (or ergs for short), has grown exponentially. They can improve both cardiovascular endurance and strength, because they offer workouts that can be long and low-intensity, or high-intensity and short. The stroke looks easy but is complex, built out of four steps: catch, drive, finish, and recovery. These movements are pretty technical; the most important thing to remember is to push with your lower body rather than pull with your upper body. Doing so will help to maximize the force exerted for each stroke while also keeping you in a good position. For a workout, the best strategy depends on your experience level. For people new to the machine, start with 20-30 minutes at a lower intensity, focusing on form. Once that becomes easy, you should begin including 1-2 minute high-intensity intervals, followed by about a minute of rest. No matter the type of workout you choose, the erg is a great way to improve your overall health.  

by Andrew Feld

Did pandemic stress change women’s periods?

By Amanda Morris, The Washington Post

Two recent studies have found changes in women’s menstrual patterns in the wake of the pandemic. These changes looked different between women, and included a higher frequency, longer, shorter, lighter, and heavier periods than what these women previously experienced. This is likely due to the increased stress levels that women faced during the pandemic, whether it was due to additional childcare responsibilities, financial instability, or an unsure future. The studies that support this claim both involved self-reporting of symptoms from a diverse pool of participants. Nicole C. Woitowich, who is a medical researcher from Northwestern University, stated that changes in menstruation patterns have been an issue for a long time, which is evident in the fact that the two aforementioned studies were conducted a year apart. Gemma Sharp, who authored a study about lasting effects from the pandemic, suggests that this could have a negative effect on long-term fertility and female reproductive health, but that more research is needed to confirm this. She emphasizes that it is important to examine menstrual health alongside the other widespread health challenges stemming from the pandemic so that women can experience physical and mental relief about their abnormal periods.

by Sammy Ramacher

Covid-19 and an Increase in Depression

By Knvul Sheikh, NYTimes 

In the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, depression has increased by 25% across the globe. In a 2021 study, more than half of American adults reported to have major depressive disorder symptoms, and they risk developing such symptoms for a year even after recovering from the coronavirus. There are developing theories pertaining the virus’s ability to inflammate the body and the brain, causing disruption in mental function. Other theories relate to how the coronavirus changes our microbiome that produces neurotransmitters, which regulate mood. People with any mental health disorder or ongoing sleep disruption before having the coronavirus are at the highest risk for developing depression after recovering from the virus. One can check if they have clinical depression by marking their levels of fatigue and headaches, and whether those signs last for up to 2-6 weeks after Covid-19 infection. Dr. Hosey, a rehabilitation psychologist working at John Hopkins, says, “In the wake of a Covid Infection, you should give yourself a little bit of a break and be patient.” 

by Emily Kim

Items contributed by: Andrew Feld, Sammy Ramacher, and Emily Kim