Category Archives: mental health

Exercise linked to improved mental health – The Lancet

More exercise was not always better, and the study found that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was associated with the biggest benefits.

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Riding a bike scored really high in the study

The study included all types of physical activity, ranging from childcare, housework, lawn-mowing and fishing to cycling, going to the gym, running and skiing.

Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and mortality from all causes, but its association with mental health remains unclear.

Previous research into the effect of exercise on mental health has conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that exercise may improve mental health, the relationship could go both ways – for example inactivity could be a symptom of and contributor to poor mental health, and being active could be a sign of or contribute to resilience. The authors note that their study cannot confirm cause and effect.

 

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Filed under aerobics, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, mental health

Why some people always focus on the negative – MIT Study

I am a big supporter of Positivity. You can check out my Page, which includes a super graphic video, Positive psychology – What’s it all about? 

The following study was written up by Anne Trafton of the MIT News office.

Many patients with neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression experience negative moods that lead them to focus on the possible downside of a given situation more than the potential benefit.

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MIT neuroscientists have found that stimulating part of the striatum can induce feelings of pessimism. (Anatomography/Life Science Databases)

MIT neuroscientists have now pinpointed a brain region that can generate this type of pessimistic mood. In tests in animals, they showed that stimulating this region, known as the caudate nucleus, induced animals to make more negative decisions: They gave far more weight to the anticipated drawback of a situation than its benefit, compared to when the region was not stimulated. This pessimistic decision-making could continue through the day after the original stimulation. Continue reading

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Filed under anxiety, brain, brain damage, brain function, Healthy brain, mental health, positivity

6 ways your pet can boost your health and well being – Medical News Today

As regular readers know, I am a dog lover . I have posted about my poodle, Gabi, a number of times. She accompanies me on about 5000 miles of bikes rides every year. So, I was very pleased to run across this item by Honor Whiteman on Medical News Today.

On arriving home after a long, stressful day at work, you are greeted at the door by an overexcited four-legged friend. It can’t fail to put a smile on your face. Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life, providing companionship and giggles galore. But the benefits do not end there; your pet could be doing wonders for your health and well-being.
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My intrepid little partner, Gabi, in her basket wearing her hat ready to ride.

The United States is a nation of animal lovers; more than 65 percent of households own a pet, with dogs and cats being the most popular choice.

It is no surprise that so many of us have a pet in our lives; not only are animals fantastic company, but they also teach us compassion and offer unconditional love.

As British novelist George Eliot once said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”

Adding to pets’ indisputable charm is the wealth of benefits they offer for human health and well-being. We take a closer look at what these are.

1. Lower risk of allergies

Around 50 million people in the U.S. have nasal allergies, and pet dander is one of the most common triggers.With this in mind, it may come as a surprise that pets could actually lower the risk of developing allergies.

One study reported by Medical News Today in 2015 associated exposure to dogs and farm animals in early life with a lower risk of asthma development by school age.

More recent research published in the journal Microbiome found that children who were exposed to household pets prior to birth and up to 3 months after experienced changes in gut bacteria associated with childhood allergies. Continue reading

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Filed under allergies, biking, depression, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, mental health, pets and well being, sleep

What Self-Care Is — and What It Isn’t

More good step by step info on living a healthy and happy life.

Healthy-Lifestyle

To read more on the value of exercise, check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits)

For more on how good sleep is for the body, check out – How important is a good night’s sleep?

Tony

Our Better Health

When asked the question: “Do you take care of yourself?” most of us will answer yes — we’d even think, “What kind of question is this? Of course I care about myself.”

When asked, “In what ways do you take care of yourself?” — well, that’s where the tricky part begins.

What is self-care?

Self-care is any activity that we deliberately do in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Although it’s a simple idea in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also keep to a good relationship with oneself and others.

What isn’t self-care?

Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. As Agnes Wainman defined, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes…

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8 Everyday Activities That Increase Your Mental Health

I love the simplicity of this. Truly the best things in life are free.

When I bought my apartment, one of the major selling points was the fact that it overlooks Lake Michigan. My east view gives me sunrises every morning. Truly food for the soul.

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To read further on positivity, check out PHow to harness positive psychology for you – Harvard.

For more on number three – stress, check out Super tools for handling stress.

Tony

 

Our Better Health

Which of these uncomplicated activities to you do most days?

Do these most days and it will help protect your mental health.

1. Dwell on the positive

Positive memories could be used as a way to help boost mental well-being, new research finds.

People in the study were asked to focus on positive social memories.

Participants focused on their own positive feelings from that memory as well as on the positive feelings of the other person.

The results showed that people felt socially safer and more positive and relaxed after the exercise.

At the same time feelings of guilt and fear were reduced.

2. Drink some tea

Tea is both calming and can make you feel more alert.

It improves cognitive performance in the short-term and may help fight Alzheimer’s in the long-term.

Finally, it is linked to better mental health.

I’ll raise a cup to that!

From: Tea: 6…

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9 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Today

Simple stuff here. You can make your life better today if you start integrating some of these into your daily doings.

I have written about positive psychology a number of times here:

Harvard on How to Harness Positive Psychology for you

Practice Positive Psychology to Improve Your Health

How You Can Benefit From a Positive View of Life WSJ

POSITIVE PEOPLE SUFFER LESS PAIN

Tony

Our Better Health

Sure, diet and exercise help. But so does opening up to a friend.

Oct 27, 2015     Patricia Harteneck, Ph.D., MBA

Mental health is much more than a diagnosis. It’s your overall psychological well-being—the way you feel about yourself and others as well as your ability to manage your feelings and deal with everyday difficulties. And while taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps to improve your emotional health on your own. Making these changes will pay off in all aspects of your life. It can boost your mood, build resilience, and add to your overall enjoyment of life:

Tell yourself something positive.

Research shows that how you think about yourself can have a powerful effect on how you feel. When we perceive our self and our life negatively, we can end up viewing experiences in a way…

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R.I.P., Robin Williams

I have been a fan of Robin Williams since he exploded on the public consciousness with his antics as Mork, the alien from Ork in 1978. For more than three decades he never failed to bring me to outright laughter in his manic public appearances. His humor was so powerful that I often had tears running down my face and couldn’t catch my breath from laughing so violently. It is so tragically ironic that the battle with depression, of all things, cost him his life. I feel like I have lost a wonderful, funny, crazy friend.

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I posted on depression just over a year ago – How Bad is Depression?. You can read the entire item by clicking the link.

Here are some highlights:

One of the first things you need to know about depression is that it is a disorder of cognition not just mood, according to Robert D. Edger, M.D. speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program®.

Depression is significantly more than feeling down or feeling sad.

Dr. Edger said that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world according to the World Health Organization. Women outnumber men by a factor of two-to-one. Only a quarter of the people who suffer from depression ever get treated. (Emphasis mine.)

The Mayo Clinic said, “More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply ‘snap out’ of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment.

WebMD wrote today, “One of the most urgent signs, which calls for immediate action, is talking about death or suicide.

“Other warning signs, according to Schneider, Krakower, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, may include:

“Talking about hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness
Feelings of being trapped, desperate, or anxious
Having persistent sadness or depression
Becoming more angry or irritable
Losing interest in life or loved ones
Having sleep problems
Contacting people and seeming to say goodbye”

Williams was only 63 years old, a young man by modern standards. Certainly, he could have counted on another decade or two if he hadn’t gotten derailed by the depression.

If any good can come from this tragic loss, perhaps it will be to awaken us to the dangers of depression and raise our level of consciousness on the subject. Maybe someone, or someone’s family, will address the problem instead of taking the easy way out and ignoring it. As funnyman Robin Williams has demonstrated, depression is no laughing matter.

Tony

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Study: Lifetime of Learning Might Thwart Dementia

The dementia protection afforded by routine intellectual activity alone was weaker than when intellectual activity was also paired up with stimulating jobs and education.

But in a twist, the authors found that those with the lowest educational and occupational scores actually gained the most protection against dementia by embarking on intellectual activities from middle-age onward.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Even taking up intellectual pursuits in mid-life appears to aid the brain.

A lifetime engaging in intellectually stimulating pursuits may significantly lower your risk for dementia in your golden years, new research suggests.

Even people with relatively low educational and professional achievements can gain protection against late-life dementia if they adopt a mentally stimulating lifestyle — reading and playing music and games, for example — by the time they enter middle-age, the new study contended.

“In terms of preventing cognitive [mental] impairment, education and occupation are important,” said study lead author Prashanthi Vemuri, an assistant professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation in Rochester, Minn. “But so is intellectually stimulating activity during mid- to late life,” she added.

“This is very encouraging news, because even if you don’t have a lot of education, or get exposure to a lot of intellectual stimulation during non-leisure activity, intellectual leisure activity…

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Music From iPods Helps Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

To clarify: Dementia is not a disease but a group of different diseases characterized by the gradual worsening of cognitive abilities. Dementia is seen across all ethnic groups and increasingly so with advancing age. Among 65–69-year-olds, about 2 percent are afflicted, with this figure doubling for every five years of age. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Regular readers know that I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia late in her life, so all aspects of these aberrations are important to me.

I ran across a fascinating article in Agingcare.com about a project started by a social worker who was also a music fan. Dan Cohen “asked his local nursing home if he could come in and bring some digital music players with custom-made playlists to patients. Through trial and error, he learned what songs each patient liked and the ones they didn’t, then he remixed the play list accordingly. Every two weeks for 18 months, the patients Cohen worked with received updated songs. And he taught caregivers how to create playlists too.”

Cohen found immediate success. “Patients who used to be easily agitated soon seemed docile when a caregiver put headphones on them and encouraged them to listen. Others who were unresponsive suddenly lit up with awareness, and the ones who barely spoke suddenly wanted to converse.“

Now, after six years, Cohen’s small experiment has become a non-profit called Music and Memory. It has introduced iPods to over 50 nursing homes and assisted living centers in the U.S. and Canada. A documentary on it has become a viral sensation.

“The evidence isn’t just observational. Brain scans show that when people listen to music that’s autobiographical, music that evokes an important place, time or emotion for the listener, regions of the brain become stimulated, particularly the brain’s memory maker, the medial prefrontal cortex. That’s an important factor for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Concetta Tomaino, D.A., executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Functions in New York says that it isn’t just Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who can benefit from this kind of music therapy.

She says, “ … when the auditory system is stimulated it can even override pain signals, providing relief in a way medicine sometimes cannot. Chemical changes occur, too, when patients hear music. Scientific evidence shows that listening to music you enjoy increases serotonin in the brain and decreases the stress hormone cortisol.”

Tony

I was not able to find a link for Cohen’s Music and Memory group. The film was done several years ago.

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Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, iPods, mental health, music

How Bad is Depression?

The focus of this blog – living  a long healthy life – has more to it than just keeping your weight down, eating right and exercising regularly. We need to be aware of our mental well-being as well as our physical health. So I thought you could use this introduction to the scourge that is depression. It is a killer of a disease.

One of the first things you need to know about depression is that it is a disorder of cognition not just mood, according to Robert D. Edger, M.D. speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® .

Depression is significantly more than feeling down or feeling sad.

depression-2

Dr. Edger said that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world according to the World Health Organization. Women outnumber men by a factor of two-to-one. Only a quarter of the people who suffer from depression ever get treated. Continue reading

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Filed under cognitive decline, depression, mental health

Green Space Beneficial for Health

It’s nice to learn that my time in the parks and at the Chicago Lakefront is good for me beyond my simple enjoyment of the experience.

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Tony

AcroTrekker

It’s always sweet when something we intuitively know gets verified by science. So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that science has found that living near green space is associated with better health, even after controlling for socio-economic factors. So if you have a significant amount of parkland or woods nearby, consider yourself lucky, even if bears or wolves live in them.

According to J Epidemiol Community Health. 2002 Dec;56(12):913-8.- Urban residential environments and senior citizens’ longevity in megacity areas: the importance of walkable green spaces.

CONCLUSIONS:

Living in areas with walkable green spaces positively influenced the longevity of urban senior citizens independent of their age, sex, marital status, baseline functional status, and socioeconomic status. Greenery filled public areas that are nearby and easy to walk in should be further emphasised in urban planning for the development and re-development of densely populated areas in a megacity. Close collaboration should…

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