Category Archives: Physiology

Active body, active mind

The secret to a younger brain may lie in exercising your body

It is widely recognized that our physical fitness is reflected in our mental fitness, especially as we get older. How does being physically fit affect our aging brains? Neuroimaging studies, in which the activity of different parts of the brain can be visualized, have provided some clues. Until now, however, no study has directly linked brain activation with both mental and physical performance.

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As reported in the latest volume of the journal NeuroImage, an exciting new study led by Dr Hideaki Soya from the University of Tsukuba in Japan and his colleagues show, for the first time, the direct relationship between brain activity, brain function and physical fitness in a group of older Japanese men. They found that the fitter men performed better mentally than the less fit men, by using parts of their brains in the same way as in their youth.

As we age, we use different parts of our brain compared to our younger selves. For example, when young, we mainly use the left side of our prefrontal cortex (PFC) for mental tasks involving short term memory, understanding the meaning of words and the ability to recognize previously encountered events, objects, or people. When older, we tend to use the equivalent parts of our PFC on the right side of the brain for these tasks. The PFC is located in the very front of the brain, just behind the forehead. It has roles in executive function, memory, intelligence, language and vision.

If you are an aging woman, you will be wondering if these results can be applied to your female brain. Both aging sexes might also wonder whether increasing aerobic fitness later in life can increase mental fitness. The results aren’t in, but I’m heading off for a brisk walk just in case.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Tsukuba. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kazuki Hyodo, Ippeita Dan, Yasushi Kyutoku, Kazuya Suwabe, Kyeongho Byun, Genta Ochi, Morimasa Kato, Hideaki Soya. The association between aerobic fitness and cognitive function in older men mediated by frontal lateralization. NeuroImage, 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.09.062
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Stand up Straight!

Enjoy this quirky video.

Good Posture: A Stance for Better Health

Healthy posture is important for your well-being, but achieving it can be an uphill battle in a high-tech, high-heeled world, experts say.

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“People who have better posture tend to appear more confident and knowledgeable to others. It makes them feel confident internally as well,” said Alynn Kakuk, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minn.

Simple exercises and stretching can help your posture, she said.

One way to practice healthy posture is to stand with your upper back, shoulders and bottom touching the wall, with your feet a couple of inches away from the wall, she said in a Mayo news release.

There should be a slight space between your lower back and the wall, just large enough to fit your hands. Then, step away from the wall and try to see if you can maintain that posture.

It’s also important to remember that strengthening your muscles will make it easier for you to maintain that healthy posture, Kakuk noted.

Frequent use of cellphones and keyboards can sabotage posture and place stress on the upper back and neck, leading to rounded shoulders and a lowered head. Try to keep your cellphone at eye level so that you’re not bending forward, she suggested. Also, do exercises that strengthen your upper back and shoulders, such as chest exercises that strengthen your pectoral muscles and diaphragm-centered breathing techniques that release tension, she added.

Kakuk said maintaining good posture can help you walk, sit, stand and lie in positions that cause the least stress on your muscles and ligaments.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, September 2015

Click here for a handout: Good posture and spinal rolls

What is Body Composition Analysis?

Body composition analysis through bioimpedance (bioelectrical impedance analysis / BCA) determines the electrical impedance, or opposition to the flow of an electric current through body tissues which can then be used to calculate an estimate of total body water (TBW). TBW can be used to estimate fat-free body mass and, by difference with body weight, body fat. The BF-350 is a professional grade machine with more accurate results than found in products available to the general public.

BCA is considered reasonably accurate for measuring groups, or for tracking body composition in an individual over a period of time, but is not considered sufficiently accurate for recording of single measurements of individuals.

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Why is body composition important to your health?

A normal balance of body fat to lean body mass is associated with good health and longevity. Excess fat in relation to lean body mass, a condition known as altered body composition, can greatly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more. BCA enables early detection of an improper balance in your body composition, which allows for earlier intervention and prevention. BCA also provides the measurement of fluid and body mass that can be critical assessment tool for your current state of health.

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BCA serves to measure your progress as you work to improve your health. Improving your BCA measure, or maintaining a health BIA measurement, can help keep your body functioning properly for healthy aging and reduced risk of illness. With your BCA results, we can recommend a personalized dietary plan, nutritional supplements, and exercise to help support optimal health and well-being for a lifetime.

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Backpack Safety Checklist

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A Short Summary of Everything Science Knows On How To Slow Ageing

Ageing is related to metabolism

The authors of this study have identified 9 key aspects of ageing on your metabolism. Metabolism isn’t some organ or group of organs but it is a complete system created by the working of billions of cells inside our body. This system is responsible for converting the fuel or food we take into to energy so that our body can function.

With age, the metabolic process slows down. DNA gets damaged and this introduces errors and inefficiency is the entire workings of the cells. The process of destroying old and worn out cells (autophagy) also slows down and this failure has detrimental effect on our whole body. Our body experiences so much stress during the course of its life that it becomes difficult for it to perform well with age.

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Ageing cannot be stopped but it can be slowed down

If ageing is all about metabolism, then it wouldn’t be surprising for you that the food we eat has a lot of affect on the ageing process. It is suggested that a Mediterranean diet can help extend your life. So what exactly is a Mediterranean diet? It is a diet high in healthy fats like olive oil, vegetables, whole grains, fish etc. However, it involves very little amount of red meat and sugar. Apparently replacing proteins with complex carbohydrates is healthier for us and aids in a longer life.

It doesn’t end here. Calorie restriction is also necessary. Overeating is not to be done and studies also suggest that introducing periods of fasting in your diet is also beneficial for some people. And the last one should not be a surprise to us; regular exercise. This helps all nine aspects that were identified in the paper that cause ageing.

Our unhealthy Lifestyles are slowly killing us

Improvements in health facilities, sanitation etc may have aided in increasing the life span but there are still problems that exist. Diets that are high in sugar, unhealthy fats and red meat create a lot of stress for metabolism and makes it inefficient. This increases the chances of obesity.

As most of us know, America is a place that has been struck with the problem of obesity. Americans have failed to consume healthy diets and spend far too many hours in activities that do not allow a lot of movement. The problem is serious and the authors have tried to call the people to immediate action if they wish to live a healthier and a longer life.

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I liked this study as it brings together dozens of studies on ageing and combines them together to create a more knowledgeable source for us. Most of the researches that have been done in the past are mostly done on lab animals, whereas, only a fraction of these studies are based on human trials. This study combines various studies and tries to bring out a broader aspect to the previous unclear studies and now it can only be hoped that people recognize the importance of a healthy lifestyle after reading this paper.

Science Alert.  Full article here.

12 Reasons to increase Water

  • Fluid balance. Roughly 60 percent of the body is made of water. Drinking enough H2O maintains the body’s fluid balance, which helps transport nutrients in the body, regulate body temperature, digest food, and more.
     
  • Calorie control. Forget other diet tricks—drinking water could also help with weight loss. Numerous studies have found a connection between water consumption and losing a few pounds . The secret reason? Water simply helps people feel full, and as a result consume fewer calories.
     
  • Muscle fuel. Sweating at the gym causes muscles to lose water. And when the muscles don’t have enough water, they get tired . So for extra energy, try drinking water to push through that final set of squats.
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  • Clearer skin. Certain toxins in the body can cause the skin to inflame, which results in clogged pores and acne . While science saying water makes the skin wrinkle free is contradictory, water does flush out these toxins and can reduce the risk of pimples.
     
  • Kidney function. Our kidneys process 200 quarts of blood daily, sifting out waste and transporting urine to the bladder. Yet, kidneys need  enough fluids to clear away what we don’t need in the body. Let’s drink to that!
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  • Productivity boost. In order to really focus, a glass of water could help people concentrate and stay refreshed and alert.
     
  • Fatigue buster. Move over coffee—water can help fight those tired eyes too . One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is tiredness. Just another reason to go for the big gulp! (Not the 7-11 kind.)
     
  • Hangover help. If booze has got the best of you, help a hangover with a glass of water to hydrate the body and stop that pounding headache.
     
  • Pain prevention. A little water can really go a long way. Aching joints and muscle cramps and strains can all occur if the body is dehydrated .
     
  • Keep things flowing. Nobody wants to deal with digestion issues. Luckily, drinking enough water adds fluids to the colon which helps make things, ahem, move smoothly.
     
  • Sickness fighter. Water may help with decongestion and dehydration, helping the body bounce back when feeling under the weather. Just beware—drinking fluids hasn’t been scientifically proven to beat colds in one swoop, so don’t swap this for a trip to the doctor or other cold remedies.
     
  • Brain boost. A study in London found a link between students bringing water into an exam room and better grades, suggesting H2O promotes clearer thinking. While it’s unclear if drinking the water had anything to do with a better score, it doesn’t hurt to try it out! 

neuronFrom Greatist