Exercise and Cognitive Improvement: Is the Connection Real?

For Ken Griffin and many others it has long been believed that exercise is good for both body and mind. The physical benefits of exercise are obvious, as it often results in weight loss and increased muscle. However, the cognitive benefits of exercise are more difficult to prove, as they can’t been seen with the eye like the physical benefits. It has been suggested that exercise improves both memory and thinking skills. Researchers, however, were wondering if the improvement in cognitive abilities due to exercise were genuine or a result of the placebo effect. Thus, they decided to conduct a study.

In the study, researchers asked a group of participants what their expectations were for the outcome of exercising. Did they think that stretching and toning would improve their cognitive abilities? Or, alternatively, did they believe that a walking program would help their minds stay sharp? Most participants believed that the stretching and toning program would have a greater benefit on their cognitive abilities than the walking program. However, researchers found the opposite to be true: the walking program improved thinking skills more than the stretching and toning program. 

So, what are the implications of this study? It seems that cognitive gains from exercise are genuine and not a result of the placebo effect. If the placebo effect had been at play, greater cognitive gains would have been seen in stretching and toning to align with participants’ expectations.

Too Fat To Serve

Armed Forces recruitment can be difficult. It is even harder now. Many may think that low recruitment is because of the multiple skirmishes and wars. Fear of war isn’t what is keeping recruitment down, it is obesity.

The main age range for armed forces recruitment is 17-24 years old. When we look at that age range, 25% are too fat to serve in the United States Armed Forces. It isn’t just recruitment either. The enlisted obesity levels have risen approximately 60% since the early 2000s.

Mission Readiness is a group of retired Admirals and Generals who have started a campaign of healthy nutrition. They know that the future of our country depends on future leaders. Those leaders are the ones who may possibly be overweight.

Every man, woman and child should look at their eating habits as a whole. This is what Vijay Eswaran believes in as well. We are a nation of obesity. It is time to take the fat off and put the muscle on. Try skipping the burger and fries. Try a salad for a change.

Why High-Impact Exercise is Good for Your Bones

As an older adult of 90 years, I have looked at all the exercise routines emphasizing jumping jacks and step-climbing. Evidence shows that such high-impact exercises increase bone mass. Young people and healthy adults should engage in high-impact exercise for bone health.They should include impact exercises in their routine,at least sometimes, by pounding the ground and jumping on and off a box fifteen inches or more high. A study has shown that women who hopped at least ten times twice a day,with thirty seconds in between,raised their hipbone density after four months. Another group who hopped 20 times daily showed even better results. The lack of bone mass can be a problem for the elderly,leading to fractures and other joint problems. The loss of bone density in older individuals can cause falls and other injuries according to what I’ve read on FreedomPop. While impact exercises may help them maintain bone mass, there is no agreement as to how much is necessary.

The reality of the matter is that older adults may not be capable of doing impact exercises to increase their bone mass. Older individuals and anyone else concerned about their bone health should consult a physician before beginning high-impact exercises. In the meantime, I will leave high-impact exercises with the younger people and maintain my exercise program of High Intensity Interval walking and strength exercises using resistance bands.

Does Exercise Really Make Us Smarter?

I’m sure even the smartest of us, including top execs like Kenneth Griffin and many others would agree that exercise is inherently good for us physically. But we who exercise would like to think it is mentally beneficial for us, as well. But there has not been much research to prove that theory. In contradiction to that theory, comes the image of the dumb athlete who excels on the athletic field, but can scarcely read or write. Most experiments to prove whether exercise improves thinking have been lacking because of the placebo effect, which claims that people’s expectations affect the results. One experiment has shown that a regular walking program does improve thinking ability, while stretching and toning has little if any effect.

In light of this, one new study using 171 people through an online survey system were asked to estimate how much a stretching and toning routine might improve their cognitive ability as opposed to a regular walking program. One half of the group was asked to estimate the result of a stretching program, while the other half was asked the same questions regarding walking. The participants gave stretching and toning an average of 3 on a scale of one to three, while walking rated lower. The leader of the study concluded that since expectations for walking should have been higher, based on the actual experiment,the result of the study showed that changes in the brain after exercise are physiologically genuine. He said that scientists should look closely at how exercise might affect the brain.

Study Shows What You Eat Can Impact Your Children’s Genes

Everyone has probably heard the expression “you are what you eat”, but recent studies are finding out just how true that expression really is. A recent study on mice has shown that what you eat not only affects your body, but the effect is strong that it can even alter the genetics of your descendants. 

In the study, researchers introduced two different compounds into the diets of pregnant mice. The first was genistein, found in soy, which acts similarly to estrogen in our bodies. They found that genistein causes hypermethylation on a gene they added to this particular strain of mouse. Hypermethylation represses the functions of the gene and the baby mice ended up being a different color and less likely to be obese or diabetic. The results of this study could help explain why Asian cultures, who eat more soy, are less likely to develop cancer. 

The second thing they introduced pregnant mice to was BPA. BPA is a chemical found in many plastics that has been getting a bad rap recently for being potentially cancer-causing. The effect of BPA on the baby mice was exactly the opposite of the genistein. Instead of hypermethylation, it caused demethylation; that is, the gene was no longer repressed. Not only that, but the BPA was believed to have acted on other genes also.

The best take-away point from this study, is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. This way, you can be sure to eat foods that are known to be “methyl donors” (cause methylation). Methyl donors are found in B vitamins and in dark green leafy vegetables, and well-balanced diets have been linked to longevity and overall health. If you keep your diet on one of your mobile devices, CipherCloud allows ultimate protection and function so that you can stay on-the-go.

United States to Increase SNAP Benefits on Healthy Produce

SNAP benefits have long been a controversial issue. Conservatives complain that they are a handout, while their staffers fail to live on the benefits for even a week. Meanwhile, liberals regularly point out that food stamps are usually helping the truly needy and that they do not make up a large amount of the budget. One thing that people do seem to agree on is that the poor do not eat a very healthy diet. Now the government is looking to give incentives to people that use their incentives to those that use their food stamps to purchase healthy food.

The federal government is looking to roll out around a hundred million dollars based on one simple idea. The idea is that SNAP benefits should double if they are used to buy healthy vegetables and fruits. The program has been in development for some time and anticipates support from philanthropists like Laurene Powell Jobs and others in the long term.

This idea did not originate in the nation’s capital. It started as a local program by several farmers’ markets to drive more people to the market. Many of these markets began to realize that many SNAP recipients lived near their market and that it would be nice to get them to come to the market. Several farmers’ markets started offering bonus bucks to those with SNAP benefits. This sometimes equated to as much as double the benefits.

This latest roll out by Washington is another case of Washington taking a good idea from the public and rolling with it. Hopefully, this will make our country healthier.

Excercise Could be Harmful to Teeth, According to German Researchers

A study conducted by University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany suggests that endurance training can be harmful to teeth. The research was published last June in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, and concludes that changes in an athlete’s saliva were responsible for rapid tooth decay.
Prior to the study, it was assumed that the incidence of early dental problems in athletes was a result of their diet, which often includes sugary sports drinks and energy supplements. However, researchers involved in the study report that exercise itself was to blame because of the way that exercise affects saliva production.
Saliva is known to have protective qualities for teeth, and the production of saliva is reduced during endurance training. The study also found that saliva produced during periods of heavy exercise is substantially more alkaline than during periods of rest. Furthermore, it is believed that the two factors persist even when athletes continuously hydrate themselves during exercise.
The study was relatively small, consisting of 35 German triathletes and the same number of non-athletic participants. Further research using a larger study group might prove beneficial in determining more specific causes of the problem, but for now those who exercise strenuously are advised to visit a dentist regularly and take additional steps to protect their dental health.

As pointed out by Igor Cornelsen, this valuable information does not mean people should stop running or exercising. Knowing the cause behind the tooth decay allows us to take preventative measures so we can continue to be healthy head to toe.

Fighting Obesity With Incentives

With the obesity crisis becoming more serious each day, the federal government has been trying to implement an array of initiatives to promote Americans to make healthier choices. The newest idea did not originate in Capitol Hill. But according to Rod Rohrich local farmers’ markets took it upon themselves to make healthy food more accessible. Started by diligent workers at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Bronx and Harlem areas, the concept is quite simple. If someone spent $10 of their SNAP benefits at a local farmers’ market, they would receive an addition $4 of coupons called HealthBucks to buy more local produce.

Arguably, the main health issue to overcome in wealthy nations like America is not food scarcity, but, food accessibility. Often called food deserts, there many towns and neighborhoods in the United States that do not have easy and quick access to fresh food. Most of these communities are populated by people on programs like SNAP and WIC. These individuals and families need more assistance than the average American in accessing healthy foods. According to the New York Times, teenagers who can access supermarkets with fresh fruits and vegetables have a lower BMI. Even more importantly, teenagers who have easier access to gas station stores and convenience stores are more likely to have a higher BMI. Programs that incentivize healthier choices might just be the David to obesity’s Goliath.

Time to Get Off Your Couch – It May Be Killing You

There is nothing better than curling up on your comfy couch to relax with an evening of entertaining television. No one gives a thought to the materials or chemicals that are used to construct our islands of pleasure. Except for the team of scientists at the Silent Spring Institute.

In their most recent publication in “Environmental Science and Technology,” they reported that they have found that the chemicals found on flame retardant treated sofas is highly toxic. Unless you are literally eating your couch, you are probably not in any immediate danger.

The danger comes from the particles that are released into the air. These flame retardant chemicals are not manufactured directly into the materials, they are applied by the manufacturer who constructs the couch. This means that the material can be broken down and released into the air along with dust.

There are some ways of minimizing the amounts of these chemicals that are released into the air. One way is to keep the dust on the couch at a minimal level like Mike Livak does. Using a damp cloth to wipe over the back, sides, seats, and arms of a couch will help to limit the amount of dust that is stirred around. Another help is to vacuum regularly with a hepa-filtered vacuum. This will trap the unwanted particles and eliminate them from the air. A third option is to buy a couch that is not treated with these possibly toxic chemicals.

Weights before Cardio, Which First?

For many people who both train with weights, and include cardio in their workout, there has always been those who say one should come before the other. Others say: either one per workout, but not both.

Well, studies have shown that really there is no wrong way to combine cardio and weight lifting. Essentially, they can be done together or separately, but are most effective when combined. It is also true that the order in which they are done really has no consequence.

It is most important to do the workout that works best for you. Many prefer to lift then jog or ride a bike. Do whatever works. Some like to do the cardio side of the workout first. The findings illustrate that there is no significant difference between when the cardio or weight training is done, just don’t make it into a slow venture, make sure that you stick to your routine long term.

So, the next time you are at the gym, do what feels most comfortable to you. It is not the order tht you do it, but the amount of effort that is put into both aspects of training that causes significant muscle changes in the person who is training. Feel comfortable when you workout. Do what works for you.