David Kirkpatrick

August 19, 2010

Yoga improves your mood

I have no doubt about this research. This year I’ve become a huge pusher of Wii Fit Plus, and I regularly do about a thirty minute yoga workout on the balance board. I’m as flexible as I’ve ever been, and according to this research my mood is better and I have less anxiety for my efforts. All I know is it’s pretty fun and more than a little bit cool to work out with an on-screen trainer putting you through the paces.

From the second link, the release:

New study finds new connection between yoga and mood

Boston, MA—Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise in its positive effect on mood and anxiety. The findings, which currently appear on-line at Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, is the first to demonstrate an association between yoga postures, increased GABA levels and decreased anxiety.

The researchers set out to contrast the brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels of yoga subjects with those of participants who spent time walking. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders.

The researchers followed two randomized groups of healthy individuals over a 12-week long period. One group practiced yoga three times a week for one hour, while the remaining subjects walked for the same period of time. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging, the participants’ brains were scanned before the study began. At week 12, the researchers compared the GABA levels of both groups before and after their final 60-minute session.

Each subject was also asked to assess his or her psychological state at several points throughout the study, and those who practiced yoga reported a more significant decrease in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than those who walked. “Over time, positive changes in these reports were associated with climbing GABA levels,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM.

According to Streeter, this promising research warrants further study of the relationship between yoga and mood, and suggests that the practice of yoga be considered as a potential therapy for certain mental disorders.


Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

April 23, 2009

Medical wii?

Filed under: et.al., Media, Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:43 pm

Looks like it. The wii is a very cool console platform and I wouldn’t be surprised if more applications beyond gaming are explored.

The release:

For Release: April 23, 2009

Popular Gaming System May Offer Radiologists an Alternative Way to View Patient Images

The popular Wii gaming remote may offer radiologists a fun, alternative method to using a standard mouse and keyboard to navigate through patient images, according to a study performed at the New-York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, NY. The remote may also offer radiologists relief from repetitive motion injuries as a result of using a mouse and keyboard.

“We have developed a new fun and exciting way for radiologists to navigate through patient images using hand movements instead of basic keyboard and mouse clicks,” said Cliff Yeh, MD, Matthew Amans, MD, and George Shih, MD, lead authors of the study. “The device from the Nintendo Wii gaming system has both an infrared sensor and an accelerometer, which when used together, can allow for flexible ways to interact with radiology images,” they said.

“All the basic features that a radiologist routinely requires can be performed using the hand held device. For this study, new software for viewing radiology images which interfaces with the Wii remote was developed in conjunction with computer scientists Lu Zheng and Michael Brown, PhD, both from the National University of Singapore, in Singapore and both co-authors of the study,” according to Drs. Yeh, Amans and Shih.

“The traditional keyboard mouse user interface limits the way a radiologist can interpret images and manage an ever increasing workload. The Wii remote may alleviate those limitations. In addition repetitive motion injuries may be mitigated by altering usage between a device like the Wii remote and the traditional mouse because they use different sets of muscles. Small movements can manipulate the image on the screen and buttons can change windows and move between different series’. It is a lot more flexible than just a simple mouse,” they said.

“The Wii remote along with the software the authors developed is currently just a prototype and is not FDA approved for clinical use. We are constantly updating the software,” said Dr. Shih, senior author of the study. “We can only hope that in the next twenty years the mouse and keyboard will be replaced by something like the Wii remote,” said Drs. Yeh, Amans and Shih.

This study will be presented at the 2009 ARRS Annual Meeting in Boston, MA, on Monday, April 27. For a copy of the full study, please contact Heather Curry via email at hcurry@arrs.org.

About ARRS

The American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) was founded in 1900 and is the oldest radiology society in the United States. Its monthly journal, the American Journal of Roentgenology, began publication in 1906. Radiologists from all over the world attend the ARRS annual meeting to participate in instructional courses, scientific paper presentations and scientific and commercial exhibits related to the field of radiology. The Society is named after the first Nobel Laureate in Physics, Wilhelm Röentgen, who discovered the x-ray in 1895. ###

January 7, 2009

“The Oldest Member” — a work of short fiction

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Sports — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:52 am

This story is an homage to P.G. Wodehouse’s “A Golf Omnibus.” That story collection featured The Oldest Member as a narrator for each tale. If you play golf, go find a copy — you will love it. If you just like good fiction, do likewise. Hit this link — The Golf Omnibus — to find the book at Amazon.

In case Wodehouse doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the guy who wrote a series of novels featuring “Jeeves” the butler. Jeeves does not feature in “A Golf Omnibus.”

And now, the tale …


The Oldest Member

(A tribute to P.G. Wodehouse’s “A Golf Omnibus”)

by David Kirkpatrick

The Oldest Member sat on the terrace, well, rather he dozed on the terrace, and well, technically he wasn’t a member because it was a municipal course. A quite nice muni, but no membership required. At any rate the Oldest Member dozed on a terrace just off the ninth green and was startled awake by the cleats of a young golfer clearly in some sort of distress.

“What’s the matter old chap, if I may ask?” said the sage.

The youngster replied, “My game’s all off.”

“Have you been playing much lately?” the white whiskered one asked.

“Plenty. The problem is it’s been mostly wii golf,” answered the young man.

“Oui? Like the magazine?’

“No, no – wii, the videogame console from Nintendo. I play that darned thing all the time and it’s totally put my real game right off. Couldn’t hit a fairway wood, or chip, all day,” said the troubled one.

“Ah yes,” began the Oldest Member, “The brassie and niblick. I remember my playing days and both clubs gave me fits on occasion …”

“Huh?” said the youngster.

“And those Oui’s. I can see how that could be distracting. Reminds me of old Finnegan McHoots and the burlesque queen..”

At this point the youngster, who actually wasn’t all that young being well into his thirties – the Oldest Member considered anyone who didn’t require the use of a cane and ear horn a youngster – remembered the Oldest Member was known for trapping unsuspecting casual golfers with long-winded stories about days gone past full of references to clubs no longer used and players long forgotten. He immediately began to rise and said, “Oh dear, I may be late for an important meeting …”

And with this the Oldest Member deftly snagged the man’s arm with the crook of a cane held him in the adjacent chair and once again said, “Yep, reminds right on about the story of Finnegan McHoots and the burlesque queen.”

Here the man knew he was trapped and the Oldest Member began his story …


You see (began the Oldest Member), old Finnegan was a scratch golfer and was coming off a narrow tournament loss to the great George Duncan and all the boys took him to a burlesque show to ease the pain. It was there he met Charlotte. I’ll have to admit her sobriquet had a rhyming addendum, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. As the night wore on this Charlotte captured every bit of McHoots attention and later his fancy. He even visited the very same show the following night and even one more evening. You could fairly say the boy was smitten beyond belief.

It just so happened his play against Duncan in that open tournament caught the eye of a tycoon of industry who, although he wasn’t a bad golfer, was still a solid ten handicapper. To the delight of local scratch men, he thought of himself as more of the five and would wager a round with them taking only those five strokes. The scratch men worked it out amongst themselves to throw the odd game or two to keep the cigar-and-belly man interested and pooled the winnings evenly. Those who were forced to toss the round were chosen by drawing a short straw at a monthly business meeting and earnings disbursal.

Of course as a true golfer, Finnegan McHoots never deigned to join this group as it just would not do for an honorable man of the links to play less than his top game every time out. The other scratch men had approached him more than once hoping to draw some new blood into the racket, but McHoots just snorted and turned away every time.

McHoots problems arose because of the aforementioned Charlotte. Finnegan found himself in a tough way after the third trip to the specialty revue and really couldn’t justify the monetary outlay to return once again. At the same time the siren’s call beckoned to him day and night. He finally broke down and approached the group of scratch men to see what it was really all about. All he knew up to this point was all honorable golfers and men among men looked down on the entire operation. As a matter of fact, several threatened to expose the whole operation – I was amongst this group – but were gently dissuaded.

The group happily took McHoots’ call and eagerly explained the process to him. “All it takes,” they said, “Is we trade off playing the captain of industry around two rounds a week giving five stokes. We all play for the same figure and pool the winnings to be disbursed monthly. We also maintain a bank so each member has the wager on hand in the rare occurrence one of us takes a loss on the day. And of course the short man takes the losing wager from the bank.”

McHoots asked about the losing wager and “short man.” He knew rounds were thrown, but he didn’t understand the whole game. The group further explained, “Well, we make the businessman’s patsy a random act of drawing straws at the disbursal meeting. The scratch man with the short straw loses his round that month. If the tycoon wants extra rounds for some reason, we draw for two short men and the first is left out of that pool to avoid suspicion and so no reputations are too sullied by losing to this character.”

Finnegan thought it over, didn’t like the concept, but he did like the figure offered up at the monthly disbursal. With this game, he thought, he could keep things as they were and have this tidy little sum of additional money to help him dote on his Charlotte. Little did he know the true cost of his burlesque queen and abandoning his days as an honorable golfer and man on the links.

As it were, the night he met with the cabal of scratch men was the disbursal and straw-drawing night. He signed on with the group right then – with visions of Charlotte dancing in his head – and immediately drew the short straw. I don’t know because I don’t associate with the kind, but I’ve heard through various channels the gang conspired for McHoots to get the little reed.

At any rate, he drew the short straw and sighed. The group told him not to fret. They’ve all been there so he should, “Suck it up old chap.” They also told him his first round with Vandersnatch, the tycoon, was the coming Tuesday at seven a.m. sharp at Marshy Maples, beginning on the front nine.

Now Finnegan’s dreams were haunted by two goblins – visions of his Charlotte coupled with the dread and shame of his coming round, and loss, to Vandersnatch. He tossed and turned so much in the nights leading up to the match he feared he would lose outright from exhaustion alone. Of course as a golfer he kept up his daily 54 hole regime and proudly noticed he maintained his scratch game.

The fateful Tuesday arrived and McHoots was a good twenty minutes early to make sure he had time for the standard two scotches before his round began. At five ’til seven a large, but not fat, man with bountiful side whiskers and three caddies strode purposefully up to the first tee. “McHoots, I presume,” said Vandersnatch with a booming voice that echoed in the early morning mist.

“Yes sir, Mr. Vandersnatch. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance,” returned McHoots.

“Rot that Vandersnatch business my man. Call me Sidney, and I trust I may call you Finnegan? It is I who is pleased to make your acquaintance. I’ve been following your career for a good while and have long dreamt of this match.”

“Sidney it is,” croaked McHoots. “Funny you should mention that about the reveries of slumber. I’ve done some dreaming about this round as well.”

With this the men tossed a coin for the honor and McHoots won. For the first three holes he couldn’t contain his game and was playing one under. Vandersnatch, getting five over the entire eighteen was already up three. At this point Finnegan realized he didn’t have any instructions on how to lose this match? Lose without the handicap added to Vandersnatch’s score? He decided that wouldn’t be possible, but he did begin to work to closely monitor the tycoon and make certain he was in the margin of losing after eighteen.

And then panic struck him. What if the old boy had say an eight on a three par? How could he make up that sort of difference without sticking out like a sore thumb. He also realized he neither sought, nor was given, any pointers on this whole game. Vandersnatch was a ten-handicapper – my heavens, thought McHoots – his game could be terrible and I have to match it stroke for stroke.

As fate would have it, the match did go as poorly as Finnegan feared it might. Vandersnatch fought the course mightily and ended up a solid twelve over. McHoots fought himself mightily and came in at ten over. Within the margin, but a scorecard that pained both heart and head.

The captain of industry didn’t notice a thing, of course, and clapped Finnegan on the back over a glass of scotch and said, “Tough luck, old boy. I got you today, but I bet you come roaring back next time. Seems all scratch men have an off day here and there, but I never can get the best your whole lot.”

With that the game was over. McHoots went home sick at heart. He hadn’t shot a ten over since he began wearing plus fours on the links. He thought to himself, at least after the month of play is over I’ll get my reward and go visit sweet, sweet, Charlotte. His dreams that night eased the pain a mighty bit and by the end of the month the game, Vandersnatch and his loss of honor was completely forgotten. After that horrid day he kept his card under par on every round of his customary 54 daily.

The night of the meeting of the scratch men cabal finally arrived, Finnegan eagerly went, collected his ill-begotten gains and drew a long straw this time. He rushed to the burlesque show to see his vision of beauty and grace, Charlotte. After the first hour there was neither hide nor hair of his angel. Finnegan finally went to the barman to enquire when she might appear. The barman looked confused until Finnegan provided a quick description of his beloved. It was then Finnegan’s turn to be confused when the tender said, “Oh, that broad? She took off a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t come back. Happens all the time around here buddy. You want another scotch?”

Finnegan went home broken-hearted. He had lost Charlotte and he had lost his golfing honor. He was a broken man. But he still had his game on the links, and it had been better than ever.

The next morning on the opening tee of his customary 54, McHoots teed up a four par, let rip with his driver and immediately sliced into a small group of trees. After getting out of that trouble with a niblick, he drew out his trusted brassie to get to the green. His swing topped the ball, which did a couple of little hops and landed about four feet closer to the pin.

The next hole went the same. And the next. And from that day forward poor Finnegan McHoots was never better than a ten-handicap man.

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wii fit works

Filed under: et.al., Science, Sports, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:43 am

I’ve yet to mess around with a wii fit, but did finally break down and last week opened a console I’d bought for resell. The game unit is definitely everything it’s cracked up to be. Very fun, very innovative and even the basic “wii Sports” games are something of a workout.  Hell, the Clone Wars lightsaber game is downright tiring.

Plus this post on the wii console ties into my next post — a bit of fiction in which “wii Sports” golf plays a minor role.

The release:

Wii Fit a promising tool for all ages

Game’s health measurements flawed

MANHATTAN, KAN. — While some emerging technologies can create environments that require very little physical effort, one Kansas State University researcher thinks games like Nintendo’s Wii Fit can help promote physical rather than sedentary activities for people of all ages.

“I think there is a great potential to develop ways to promote physical activity through technology,” said David Dzewaltowski, professor and head of the department of kinesiology at K-State and director of the university’s Community Health Institute. “Kids innately like to move, so I believe that there is a big future in games that use emerging technologies and require movement because the games will be enjoyed by children and also be more healthy than existing games.”

In a commentary published in the October 2008 Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, Dzewaltowski discussed how technology is changing our everyday life and affecting our health.

Wii Fit has games that incorporate yoga, strength training, balance and aerobics. The games are interactive and require the player to physically move, which is better than nothing, Dzewaltowski said. It uses a balance board and allows gamers to simulate challenges like snowboarding down a mountain.

“Anything that gets people to move more than they have in the past is positive, but if people are trying to replace physical activity that demands more movement with the Wii, then that will be negative,” Dzewaltowski said.

He said it is difficult in a small indoor space to replicate the intensity of some real-life physical activities, though dance video games are effective at demanding physical movements that require caloric expenditure.

“The caloric expenditure demanded by an activity depends on the energy necessary to move the body’s weight to complete the task and how long you perform the task,” Dzewaltowski said.

He added that different activities demand different amounts of caloric expenditure, like playing a game of soccer, which demands much more energy expenditure than bowling or playing the outfield in baseball.

Dzewaltowski said Wii Fit can be an effective tool to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle for some people because it follows the basic principles for adhering to an exercise program, like having physical activity goals, tracking those goals and evaluating the progress.

Wii Fit measures players’ body mass index, or BMI, which is a weight evaluation based on height and weight. Dzewaltowski said this a good screening tool for adults, meaning if the game categorizes them as being overweight or obese, they should seek more information from a health professional who can better evaluate the level of body fat. However, he said the calculation is unsuitable for children.

“For children, the BMI calculation has to be expressed based on age and gender growth charts, and it doesn’t do that,” Dzewaltowski said. “Due to children’s age and gender differences in growth, the adult BMI calculators don’t work. My use of the Wii BMI calculator showed that it was inappropriate for children and would categorize children incorrectly.”

The game also gives players a Wii Fit Age, which is measured by the player’s BMI and their center of gravity and balance testing. However, Dzewaltowski doesn’t think the measurement is credible.

For personal goals, he said it is more important to focus on behaviors such as physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption rather than the game’s BMI and fitness age measurements.

Dzewaltowski said it could be healthy for gamers to solely rely on Wii Fit for exercise if they are meeting the guidelines for physical activity set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

He said future technologies should continue to promote physical activity if they make exercise enjoyable, especially for adults.

“I also believe that adults enjoy movement if they are at a fitness level where they can perform the activity comfortably,” Dzewaltowski said. “The problem is most adults have very poor fitness levels. So, I believe there is a future in developing games that include movement and demand caloric expenditure at the level of the participant.”