Tag Archives: health and wellness

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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International Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December. The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.

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Stand up Straight!

Enjoy this quirky video.

Less than 3%

There are really only a few basic habits we know should help keep people healthy: eating well, exercising, avoiding smoking, and keeping body fat in check.

Turns out a shockingly tiny number — just 2.7 percent — of Americans actually manage all four habits, according to a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The research, led by Paul Loprinzi of the University of Mississippi, used data about the lifestyles of nearly 5,000 US adults from the 2003 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. (That’s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biggest national health survey.)

The researchers zeroed in on information about exercise (whether people got 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly based on accelerometer data) and smoking status (measured by blood levels of cotinine, a biomarker for tobacco exposure). As for eating habits, the researchers looked at self-reported 24-hour recall data about diet and used the Healthy Eating Index score (an indicator of diet quality that takes into account how many fruits and vegetables people eat, as well as meat, beans, oil, saturated fat, alcohol, and sodium). To evaluate physical fitness, they also looked at body fat percentage.

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The researchers also looked at how these behaviors corresponded with biomarkers related to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, including cholesterol and fasting glucose.

The findings were stark.

Only about 38 percent of Americans surveyed had a healthy diet, just 10 percent had a normal body fat level, and fewer than half (47 percent) were sufficiently active. On the upside: 70 percent of adults reported themselves as nonsmokers. But overall, fewer than 3 percent of Americans managed all four healthy lifestyle behaviors. Eleven percent had none.

Generally, the researchers also found, people who had three or four of these behaviors had better biomarker measures compared with those who managed none.

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This new research should be a reminder of how difficult behavior change is, and how addressing society’s obesity challenge is going to take more than simply telling people to eat better and exercise more.

From VOX, read post here

Have You Built a Quit Plan? | Smokefree.gov

Planning ahead improves your chances of quitting smoking for good. Follow these steps to create your own individual quit plan.

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Source: Have You Built a Quit Plan? | Smokefree.gov

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The science of mindful eating

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An Awesome Way to Reduce Stress

Experiencing awe — through music, art, religion, or nature — can reduce inflammation and the risk for depression.

The feeling of awe that a beautiful sunset or painting can inspire does more than make you feel good. When we experience awe or wonder, levels of inflammation in our body are lowered, which can be important to the body in several ways.

UC Berkeley researchers asked over 200 people to report the kinds of emotions they’d experienced throughout the day. Then the researchers swabbed the inside of participants’ mouths and used these skin cells to measure levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a key marker of inflammation.

Those participants who’d experienced positive emotions like awe, amazement, and wonder that day — perhaps by seeing a beautiful sight in nature or hearing a beautiful piece of music — had the lowest levels of IL-6. It’s not clear whether the awe caused the people’s IL-6 levels to go down or whether there’s another type of relationship at work, but the results are intriguing.

See full article here…