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Novel 5-minute workout improves blood pressure, may boost your brain – UC

As regular readers know, the mantra of this blog is eat less; move more; live longer. Moving more means discarding your sedentary lifestyle and exercising regularly.  University of Colorado Boulder have uncorked a novel angle on exercising. Not cardio or weight bearing exercise, but a muscular challenge just the same. Following comes from CU Boulder Today, by Lisa Marshall.

Could working out five minutes a day, without lifting a single weight or jogging a single step, reduce your heart attack risk, help you think more clearly and boost your sports performance?

Preliminary evidence suggests yes.

Now, with a new grant from the National Institute on Aging, CU Boulder researchers have launched a clinical trial to learn more about the ultra-time-efficient exercise known as Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST).

“It’s basically strength-training for the muscles you breathe in with,” explains Daniel Craighead, a postdoctoral researcher in the Integrative Physiology department. “It’s something you can do quickly in your home or office, without having to change your clothes, and so far it looks like it is very beneficial to lower blood pressure and possibly boost cognitive and physical performance.” Continue reading

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Weekend funnies …

Good Friday morning. Time for a visit to the internet animal kingdom, etc.

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Have a great weekend!

Tony

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Weekend funnies …

Here we are at weekend time again, no need to beware the Ides of March. Hope you have a fun one. Consider the following as an overture …

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Guess who has never seen snow before …

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Tony

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What are Two Good Yoga Stretches for Cyclists?

Because the weather appears to be mellowing, I am guessing that a lot more folks will be getting out their bikes to ride ‘in the new season.’ Here are a couple of stretches that I recommend you do before and after your ride.

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

I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.

As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flow back into my legs when I finish.

I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes the difference…

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Weekend funnies …

Is it Friday already? Well, here is your harbinger of a fun weekend. Hope it works out that way.

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Tony

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Hot tips for Cold weather

Now that much of the nation is over the Polar Vortex that came through , I thought it might be a good idea to revisit the idea of surviving and thriving in cold weather. Winter isn’t over yet.

Here are a couple of infographics that spell it out. But, if you want chapter and verse on the subject, please check out my post – Exercising outdoors in cold weather from a while back.

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Tony

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Diet and regular soft drinks linked to risk factors for heart disease – Study

I  have written repeatedly about the dangers of soft drinks, both sugary and artificial sweeteners. You can search the subject by punching soft drinks into the S E A R C H box at the right.

Drinking more than one soft drink daily — whether it’s regular or diet — may be associated with an increase in the risk factors for heart disease, Framingham researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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“We were struck by the fact that it didn’t matter whether it was a diet or regular soda that participants consumed, the association with increased risk was present,” said Ramachandran Vasan, M.D., senior author of the Framingham Heart Study and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. “In those who drink one or more soft drinks daily, there was an association of an increased risk of developing the metabolic syndrome.”

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including excess waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL “good” cholesterol) and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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Flu prevention tips

I truly believe that old saw “an ounce of prevention ….” So, here are some super positive ideas about protecting yourself from flu this season. Good luck!

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Tony

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Mid week puns …

I know, I know … you have been waiting all week for these.

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Tony

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Mid Week puns

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One of my favorite puns – ever.

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What about pain and exercise?

I have a bad case of arthritis in both my hands. I use exercise balls, ice packs and CBD oil for temporary pain relief. That is pretty much the only pain I deal with regularly. So, I guess I have a lot to be thankful for as a guy who turns 79 in January. I do realize, however, that many seniors are not so lucky. For them, I recommend these tips from the National Institute on Aging.

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Exercising when you’re in pain can be hard. You might think that you should rest until your pain disappears. But depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing, exercise can help reduce your pain and improve your mood.
Most people living with chronic pain can exercise safely. In fact, research has shown that exercise combined with education can reduce one’s risk of lower back pain.

Follow these tips for exercising with pain:

  • Pace yourself. Begin your program slowly with low-intensity exercises and work up from there.
  • Talk to your doctor. Pain usually doesn’t go away overnight, so talk with your health care provider about how long it may take before you feel better and about what exercises you can do safely.
  • Know which exercises to do. Endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises all have their own benefits, so doing a combination of exercises may be best.
  • Don’t overdo it. Listen to your body. Avoid overexerting yourself when you feel good. If you have pain or swelling in a specific area, switch your focus to another area for a couple of days.

Learn more about exercising with pain from Go4Life.

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How coffee protects the brain

I am guilty of being a coffee lover. I am so bad that when I see someone on TV carrying a cardboard cup of the brew, I am tempted to make some for myself. So, the following was good news for me.

Scientists have now proved that drinking certain types of coffee can be beneficial to brain health, but how does this popular brew support cognitive function? A new study identifies some of the mechanisms that allow coffee to keep mental decline at bay.

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According to data from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, about 54 percent of all adults in the United States drink coffee on a daily basis.

While drinking coffee can bring both benefits and risks for a person’s health, a 2016 study from the University of Ulster in Coleraine, United Kingdom, concluded that the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption “clearly outweigh” the potential risks.

One of these benefits is that coffee seems to protect the brain against cognitive impairments and boost thinking skills. Continue reading

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How good cholesterol can keep women’s brains healthy

Although I like to keep my posts applicable to both men and women, I ran across this article down under and thought you might find it worthwhile reading as it applies to healthy brains.

We’re all living longer, and for many women our older years are our happiest.

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Maintaining brain health is key to joining these lucky people living a long, happy and healthy life. But for many women, it’s the slow creep of dementia that leads to the demise of their health, and quality of life.

Two thirds of people living with dementia are women, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirms it is now the leading cause of death for women.

Yet there are few studies of how dementia progresses in women.

Two recent studies from the landmark 20-year Women’s Healthy Ageing Project at the University of Melbourne shed light on which women are most at risk of developing dementia, and how we can get in early to prevent or delay the disease.

Their results are timely, coming as the Australian Government considers the best ways to look after women’s health in the future, inviting submissions to its National Women’s Health Strategy for 2020 – 2030.

In research published in Brain Imaging and Behaviour, researchers found that a woman’s volume of grey matter in their brain at the age of 60 predicts their memory performance at 70.

Grey matter is the part of the brain that is controlled by the nerve cell bodies and it’s where the real processing happens, including speech, hearing, feelings, seeing and memory. White matter allows communication to and from grey matter areas, as well as between grey matter and other parts of the body.
In separate study published in the same journal, they also found that women with normal levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol, called HDL which carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver, in 1992 had less white matter damage in their brain a decade later when they conducted late-life brain MRI scans and cognitive assessments in 2012.

So, maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol impacts on the structure of the brain directly.

“Taken together, these findings show there are useful neuroimaging biomarkers for the prediction of cognitive decline in healthy older women,” says lead researcher Professor Cassandra Szoeke.

“They build on a growing body of research helping us pick up the warning signs of dementia earlier. In fact just this year the National Institute of Ageing published proposed criteria to diagnose dementia and pre-dementia on biomarkers, like brain scan results and body fluid measures of protein levels.”

What’s happening in our brains

 

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AI Could Soon Predict Cognitive Decline Leading to Alzheimer’s Disease – Study

A team of scientists has successfully trained a new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Mallar Chakravarty, a computational neuroscientist at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, and his colleagues from the University of Toronto and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data. This specific algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s in the next five years.

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“At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer’s and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a ‘doctor’s assistant’ that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment. For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it altogether,” says Chakravarty, an Assistant Professor in McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry. Continue reading

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About that aging brain …

They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but new research shows you can teach an old rat new sounds, even if the lesson doesn’t stick very long.

For the record I wrote a post on that damaging cliche about teaching old dogs new tricks. You can read it here – Of cats and dogs and cliches ….

Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University examined the effects of aging on neuroplasticity in the primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes auditory information. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to modify its connections and function in response to environmental demands, an important process in learning.

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Plasticity in the young brain is very strong as we learn to map our surroundings using the senses. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

Plasticity in the young brain is very strong as we learn to map our surroundings using the senses. As we grow older, plasticity decreases to stabilize what we have already learned. This stabilization is partly controlled by a neurotransmitter called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which inhibits neuronal activity. This role of GABA was discovered by K.A.C. Elliot and Ernst Florey at The Neuro in 1956. Continue reading

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Protect your brain from stress – Harvard

While this blog started with a weight control focus, I soon realized that the answer was in living a healthy life, eating intelligently and exercising regularly. Right in harmony with those physical habits, I found that you can’t overlook the mental side of life and expect to succeed. As a result I have written numerous posts on dealing with stress. So, I was very pleased to run across this work on the subject from Harvard Medical School.

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Protect yourself from damaging stress

To better cope with stress, consider how you might minimize factors that make it worse. Here are some tips that can help you better manage stress and hopefully prevent some of the damaging effects it could have on your brain.

Establish some control over your situation. If stress isn’t predictable, focus on controlling the things that are. “Having a routine is good for development and health,” says Dr. Kerry Ressler, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Predictability combats stress.

Get a good night’s sleep. Stress can result in sleep difficulties, and the resulting lack of sleep can make stress worse. “Sleep deprivation makes parts of the brain that handle higher-order functions work less well,” says Dr. Ressler. Having healthy sleep habits can help. This includes going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, avoiding caffeine after noon, and creating a relaxing sleep environment.

Get organized. Using strategies to help manage your workload can also reduce stress. For example, each day, create a concrete list of tasks you need to accomplish. This way, your duties won’t seem overwhelming. Making a list also gives you a clear end point so you know when you are done. “Laying tasks out like this helps reduce the feeling that the brain is being bombarded,” he says. It can also help you predict when you are likely to be stressed.

Get help if you need it. Reaching out can help you become more resilient and better able to manage stress, which may ultimately protect your brain health. Earlier intervention may reduce disability caused by stress-related complications later on.

Change your attitude toward stress. “A life without stress is not only impossible, but also would likely be pretty uninteresting — in fact, a certain degree of stress is helpful for growth,” says Dr. Ressler. So, rather than striving for no stress, strive for healthier responses to stress.

Following is a link for my Page – How to deal with stress which will give you further tools.

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