MAP Training

Aerobic exercise increases the number of new neurons that are produced in the adult hippocampus while effortful learning keeps them alive. Combining those two activities may be especially good for brain health. As such, we developed a clinical intervention known as MAP Training, which stands for mental and physical training. Each session of MAP training begins with twenty minutes of mental training with silent sitting meditation, followed by ten minutes of silent walking meditation. The session ends with thirty minutes of aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity. MAP training is typically provided at least twice a week for eight weeks with testing done before and after.

MAP Training is relatively easy to do and very easy to remember:

If you want to find out how to do the intervention, please go to

We have completed several clinical studies with MAP training. In the first, MAP Training was provided to women in the community who were recently homeless, suffering untold trauma on the street and beforehand. After eight weeks of MAP Training, twice a week, they reported fewer depressive symptoms and many fewer symptoms of anxiety. Their physical health vastly improved with a large increase in oxygen consumption. Our second study engaged students on campus with major depressive disorder (MDD). After 8 weeks of MAP training, participants were less depressed. Indeed, scores on Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) decreased 40%. Depressive symptoms were also significantly decreased in the “healthy” controls. MAP Training was associated with increases in synchronized brain activity during conflict monitoring, a sign of healthy neuronal responses to challenging training conditions. The participants were also less likely to ruminate about the past and themselves, a tendency that often occurs in individuals with depression as well as those who have experienced trauma. Together, these data indicate that MAP Training has mind and whole body benefits that translate into an overall increase in health and well-being.

Sexual violence against women is a serious problem for society and recently there has been an awakening to the problem in modern society. Most of the emphasis has been on prevention and justice for the victim, but we must also consider the health and well-being of the victims going forward. How can we help them learn to recover. I developed MAP Training specifically for this purpose and my team at Rutgers has been providing MAP Training to women who have experienced sexual violence either as adolescents or young adults. Nearly 100 women have completed the program with positive results – less depression, fewer trauma-related cognitions and in many cases, less anxiety. We have further determined that the combination of the two activities is better than either one alone (Shors et al., submitted 2017), in part because more types of symptoms, thoughts and memories are affected by mental AND physical training to together. Our goal is to make MAP Training READILY accessible to human beings from all walks of life who want to learn new skills to keep their mind and body in synch and healthy. Please see if you or someone you know would like to try it.


Rutgers Today documented the study in a video, that is uploaded on their YouTube page: