Category Archives: exercise and brain health

10 Hidden Anxiety Triggers You Need to Avoid

There is a ton of good information in this. Read it and reap!

I have posted previously on:

How important is a good night’s sleep?

Super tools for handling stress

Tony

Our Better Health

Anxiety seems to be a near-universal condition. In the United States alone, approximately 40 million adults – or 18 percent of the population – suffer from an anxiety disorder.

And these numbers represent only the diagnosed (i.e. reported). The actual number is likely to be significantly higher.

The truth is that society is somewhat to blame (not to negate our own sense of responsibility.) We’ve managed to build a 24/7 “constantly connected” infrastructure that has permeated into schools, businesses and elsewhere. Many people are under constant pressure to succeed; most ironically by leveraging this very infrastructure. This only exacerbates the problem.

“Prevention is the best cure” is a universal axiom within the medical community, including within the mental health sphere. Understanding what “triggers” certain symptoms or condition can – in some instances – drastically reduce the likelihood of a symptom or episode.

Here, we focus on ten established “triggers” that…

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Filed under alcohol, anxiety, drinking alcohol, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, good night's sleep, sleep, stress, stress reduction

Can exercise and nutritional intervention improve muscle mass and function?

Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. I am always thrilled to run across studies that underscore those concepts. This one adds nutritional supplementation for additional benefits.
A study of the combined effect of exercise and nutrition intervention on muscle mass and function in seniors finds that exercise has a positive impact, with some possible additive effect of dietary supplementation.

Although sarcopenia, progressive muscle loss, is a natural part of aging, it is generally identified when muscle mass and muscle function falls below defined thresholds. Sarcopenia’s impact can be enormous as it affects mobility, balance, risk of falls and fractures, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living. Given the aging of populations worldwide, public health and clinical recommendations to prevent and manage sarcopenia are urgently needed.

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The new systematic review ‘Nutrition and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Sarcopenia’ [1] summarizes the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of interventions combining physical activity and dietary supplements on muscle mass and muscle function in subjects aged 60 years and older. Continue reading

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Researchers Uncover New Agents That Eliminate Cells Tied to Age-Related Diseases – Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered three new agents to add to the emerging repertoire of drugs that aim to delay the onset of aging by targeting senescent cells – cells that contribute to frailty and other age-related conditions. A recent study of human cell cultures shows that the drugs, fisetin and two BCL-XL inhibitors – A1331852 and A1155463 – cleared senescent cells in vitro. Findings appear online in Aging.

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“Senescent cells accumulate with age and at sites of multiple chronic conditions, such as in fat tissue in diabetes, the lungs in chronic pulmonary diseases, the aorta in vascular disease, or the joints in osteoarthritis,” says James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. “At Mayo Clinic, we discovered the first senolytic drugs – agents that selectively eliminate senescent cells while leaving normal cells unaffected. These senolytic agents alleviated a range of age- and disease-related problems in mice. We used the hypothesis-driven approach that we used to discover the first senolytic drugs, two published in early 2015 and another later in 2015, to discover these three new senolytic drugs.” Continue reading

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Tricking Your Brain Into Helping You Lose Weight

If, like many folks, you overindulged during the recent holidays, perhaps this item I wrote back when the blog was still in diapers might be of help.

Besides, I think the brain is amazing and we can’t know too much about it.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Regular readers know that I am retired and have been taking courses from The Great Courses for some time. Lately, I have become fascinated with the brain and how it functions.

The latest class I am studying is “The Neuroscience of Everyday Life” taught by Sam Wang, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. Additionally, Professor Wang is the co-author of the best-selling book Welcome to Your Brain which has been translated into 20 languages.

Here is the best-selling book Professor Wang co-wrote

I have only just begun reading the book, but I ran across a passage on page 36 that I thought would interest and benefit readers of the blog. The following is from a two-page write-up titled Tricking Your Brain Into Helping You Lose Weight.

This is the conclusion of those two pages:
“Early food exposure influences dietary preferences in adulthood, and eating habits…

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Filed under brain, brain function, Exercise, exercise and brain health, overweight, Snacking, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Seniors need to get out of that comfort zone – NYT

I have written several posts on why people are discounting in the mainstream media regarding their second rate and slanted coverage of Donald Trump and the recent election. However, I want to point out that this piece from the New York Times is superb reporting. So, the grey lady lives on.

The article was How to become a Superager by Lisa Feldman Barrett. She is the author of the forthcoming “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.”

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She asks, “Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline? “Superagers” (a term coined by the neurologist Marsel Mesulam) are those whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds. ”

In providing the answer, she gets into some labyrinthine details on how the brain functions. If you want to go there just click on the link to the article and enjoy. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, brain exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, New York Times

Get the jump on Alzheimer’s and dementia – Rush

Regular readers know that because I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia I have a serious interest in keeping myself safe. And, by extension, you. This isn’t just for seniors.

Rush Medical Center has some very  useful suggestions on the subject.

Do you have the power to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Although some risk factors — age and family history — are beyond your control, increasing evidence from research indicates that you aren’t helpless.

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Researchers from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and around the world have found that certain lifestyle choices can protect your brain against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Incorporate the following activities into your life, and your brain could reap the benefits Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, exercise and brain health, Healthy brain

What is My Ideal Weight?

As we are in the throes of the holiday season, you may have been asking yourself that question lately. If so, you have come to the right place.

When starting writing this blog nearly seven years ago, I weighed 165 pounds. At 5’9″ tall, I was happy at that weight. It was the lowest I had been in the previous 20 years. At my worst, I weighed around 225 lbs. You can read about that in – How I Lost 50 Pounds in 52 Weeks.

Since starting the blog, I have become very aware of my consumption of food each day as well as my actions to burn off excess calories and to provide necessary exercise for my body. It is a fact that I have focused on my own health more since starting the blog than at any time in my life. As a soon to be 77-year old who has buried both parents as well as several other aged loved ones, I am very much aware of my own mortality and would like to forestall it as long as possible. I also have a 22-year old daughter whom I would like to see grow up.

Getting back to my ideal weight, because of my focus on good health, I have adopted healthy habits on the positive side and avoid negative ones. So, today, nearly seven years after starting this blog, I find myself weighing 150 pounds. Because I weigh myself every day, I am not surprised at that, but, considering that I thought I was at my ideal weight at 165 , I am a bit surprised. So, what should I weigh? One of the factors contributing to the complexity of this question is the testimony of the senses. What we see looking out at our fellow humans is a skewed population which has 60 percent overweight and 30 percent obese. You need to keep that in mind when thinking about your own weight.

Although I stand 5’9″ tall, I have a small frame. My wrist measures less than 7 inches around.

I found what I consider to be a really helpful web page on the subject and will share it with you here. It was created by Dr. Steven B. Halls in 2008.

According to this page, the average weight that other people of my age, height, weight and gender would describe as their ideal weight is 152 pounds.

The medical recommendation is a range of 129 to 169 pounds. This recommendation is based on a Body Mass Index (BMI) range of 19-25. My current BMI is 21.9. Just for the record, I don’t like BMI as a weight metric. You can check out my post Don’t Get Hung up on Your BMI if you want more info on it.

Other results, based on possibly out of date criteria, the weight look up tables of the Metropolitan Life Insurance company in 1979, offer 144 to 154 pounds. The Met Life tables show values that are too large for short people and wrong for tall folks and have no age modifiers.

So, even though I find myself nearly 20 pounds below what I thought was my idea weight back when we started writing the blog, I am actually right in the correct range.

If you are looking at this because it is near year end and you are thinking about ‘getting healthy’ in the coming year, this is a good starting point. Best of luck.

You can read some very useful guidelines on my Page How to Lose Weight (and Keep it Off) Page.

Tony

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Filed under aging, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, ideal weight, Weight

Aerobic Exercise Preserves Brain Volume / Improves Cognition – RSNA

I seem to remember a line from a Clint Eastwood movie – Go ahead, make my day.  That’s how I feel every time I read something in the press about how exercise helps the brain the function better. It absolutely makes my day.

This is from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA):

•    Aerobic exercise may increase brain volume and cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.
•    MRI results showed increased local gray matter volume in patients who engaged in either aerobic or stretching exercises for six months, but some white matter atrophy in the stretching group.
•    Cognitive testing revealed the aerobic exercise group also showed improvement in executive function after six months.

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Using a new MRI technique, researchers found that adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who exercised four times a week over a six-month period experienced an increase in brain volume in specific, or local, areas of the brain, but adults who participated in aerobic exercise experienced greater gains than those who just stretched. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Continue reading

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How Do We CREATE (CAUSE) Disease And Dysfunction?

This is a perfect description of the phrase “organic machines” which I use to describe our bodies.

Please check my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) to read further on this.

Tony

All About Healthy Choices

lived-700x476Most people think of disease as something we “CATCH.” The flu, chicken pox, sinus infections, are a few examples. Then there are diseases that are non communicable like diabetes, obesity and cancer. Dysfunction is a term that applies to the loss of muscle, vital organs (ex. heart, liver, gastrointestinal tract, etc…) joint, tendon or ligament function. These are the basic causes of health complications we contend with that affect the quality of life we live.

Many of you probably think of disease and dysfunction as a “NORMAL” aging process. It is commonly believed that “LUCK” determines who will suffer disease and dysfunction and who will remain healthy.

It is because of this FALSE BELIEF that I write this article!

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screen-shot-2013-06-11-at-9-23-22-am-500Creating disease doesn’t mean placing your head in a vat of viruses and breathing deeply. It means CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT within the BODY and MIND that is so weak…

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Filed under cardiovascular diseases, chronic disease, coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise and brain health, nutrition

Heart disease and brain health linked – Harvard

I have written time and again about the link between exercise and brain health. The Harvard Heart Letter has a nice post on how heart disease and brain health are tied together.

“Just like in the rest of your body, advancing years can take a toll on your brain function. Much of this slowing down is predictable and can be chalked up to normal aging. However, when thinking skills become increasingly fuzzy and forgetfulness gets to be a way of life, an early form of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment may be setting in,” so writes Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter.

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“Often, the first reaction is to attribute these changes to the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. But blood flow problems may be to blame, as well. “An estimated one-third of all cases of dementia, including those identified as Alzheimer’s, can be attributed to vascular factors,” says Dr. Albert Hofman, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Continue reading

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Filed under blood pressure, coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health, stroke

World chess champion on exercise – WSJ

I have written it previously and I will repeat it: I love it when the news meets my bias. This week Jen Murphy wrote in the Wall Street Journal about three time world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and his training. Think about it, nothing is less physical and more cerebral than a game of chess, right? Yet, Mr. Carlsen says, “… he believes a healthy diet and physical training are crucial for a chess master to remain at peak, just as they are for other types of athletes. “I get bored very easily, so I don’t do well in the gym,” Mr. Carlsen says. “Luckily for me, I have a real love of sport.”

Isn’t that wonderful?! He considers a healthy diet and physical training to be ‘crucial’ for success in chess.

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World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen became a Grand master at the age of 13, one of the youngest in history.

How does he work out? “When Mr. Carlsen is on the road for a tournament, he depends on his workouts to help him relieve tension and relax. He might run intervals on the treadmill at a hotel gym, adjusting the incline and intensity for 30 to 60 minutes. “Running is a time where I can go through game strategies,” he says.
After he gets his heart rate up, he winds down with a series of stretches, or he will flow through yoga sequences for 20 minutes. “Much of my core work comes from yoga,” he says. “I’m not the type to go to the gym and run through reps and sets of exercise. I need something more fluid and fun.” If he can find a hot yoga studio, he’ll attend a class.”

I love that a chess grand master includes healthy food and good exercise in his training regimen. Keep in mind that he is just practicing what I have been preaching here for some years. Although the rest of us aren’t grand masters and maybe don’t even play chess, the same principles apply. Eat intelligently and exercise regularly to succeed in living a healthy life.

You can check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits) for more info on this critical subject.

Tony

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Increasing Muscle Strength Can Improve Brain Function

Increased muscle strength leads to improved brain function in adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), new results from a recent trial led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

Regular readers know how strongly I feel about exercise benefiting the brain as much as the body. A look at my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) will fill you in. What is exciting about this study is that it focuses on weight training. Most of the exercise benefits I have read about follow cardio work. So, this is indeed new and exciting.

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With 135 million people forecast to suffer from dementia in 2050, the study’s findings–published in the Journal of American Geriatrics –have implications for the type and intensity of exercise that is recommended for our growing aging population. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain exercise, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, successful aging

12 +1 Rewards of Exercise

WebMD is offering a nice slide show with what they call the top 12 rewards of exercise.

I called this post 12 +1 Rewards because I have included my own observation adding one  reward from working out that WebMD didn’t mention.

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They list Better Mood pointing out that exercise releases endorphins – the feel good’ chemicals in the brain.

Next is More Energy, noting that “when you exercise regularly that fatigue goes away and you find yourself with a lot more pep.” Continue reading

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Brain exercises – all hype? – Wall Street Journal

As a senior citizen, 76 years old as of this writing, I think that the condition of my brain is probably my number one priority. Right there along with the physical condition of my body. Also, regular readers know that I have several cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family on both parents’ sides. So the concept of impaired cognition has my full attention.

I know that most of my contemporaries and younger compatriots are also very sensitive about their mental condition. Everyone experiences ‘senior moments,’ but they are not funny to those of us over 60.

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When I attended the ‘Healthy Transitions’ talks at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (for folks over 50), the most well-attended were the lectures on cognitive impairment and dementia. Always a packed house. This is a very hot topic for seniors.For these reasons, I have particular contempt for the snake oil salesmen who try to prey on seniors’ fears of cognitive impairment. These include the drug companies that offer surefire memory boosters and particularly the brain games. I have written a number of posts about the ineffectiveness of these games. You can access them by checking out my Page – Brain games for seniors – What you need to know.

Continue reading

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Can Ayurveda Help with Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Because my family has suffered from both Alzheimer’s and dementia, I am especially sensitive to anything that might reduce my vulnerability to them. I really  liked the Tips to Nourish Your Brain at the end.

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Please be sure to check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more information.

Tony

STAYING HEALTHY WITH AYURVEDA

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disorder affecting the parts of the brain controlling thought, memory and language. About 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and the number of cases are expected to quadruple by 2050. Ayurveda, the original health science of India, offers much needed knowledge on how to reverse aging trends, even in cases of brain deterioration such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Early detection provides a greater opportunity to delay or reverse the existing symptoms of aging disorders. Ayurveda, offers a comprehensive system of effective interventions.

A consultation with an Ayurvedic health expert using the ancient technique of Ayurvedic pulse assessment can help with early detection. Pulse assessment can help identify specific imbalances in the body which can predispose an individual to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. This individual diagnosis is a powerful tool for designing an individualized treatment program and…

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Time Magazine cover story – Exercise

It’s really thrilling to see stuff we write about here pop up in the popular press. Time has a cover story on exercise in its latest, 12 Sep 2016, issue. Please buy it! I guarantee you will learn valuable information on this important subject.

Mandy Oaklander does a bang up job and it is well worth the cover price if you are not already a Time subscriber.

Before quoting from it, I want to direct you to my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits).

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I loved the following: “Eating alone will not keep a man well,” Hippocrates famously wrote. “He must also take exercise.”(my emphasis)

Following is the conclusion of the Time piece:

“Everyone knows exercise is healthy. Now scientists are understanding exactly why. Here are some of the amazing things that happen to a body in motion.

“Increased blood flow to the brain creates new blood vessels. Exercise also triggers the release of chemicals that dull pain and lighten mood.

“Exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering nutrients to the epidermis and helping wounds heal faster.

“The body is better able to burn fat for energy instead of carbs, causing fat cells to shrink.

“Moving quickly makes the heart pump more blood to the body’s tissues, including the muscles. That extra oxygen helps muscles better withstand fatigue.

“Repeated weight-bearing contractions make muscles grow and put pressure on the bones, increasing their density.

“Exercise may protect telomeres, the tiny caps on the ends of chromosomes. This appears to slow the aging of cells.”

Tony

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