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Neuroplasticity and Exercise Will Keep Your Brain Young and Spry
If you're not routinely keeping your brain fit through physical and mental exercise, you're putting yourself at risk for an early descent into Age Related Cognitive Decline (ARCD). Do your brain a favor and feed it what it likes.
Our poor brains.
From 25-years-old on, it's just one long downward spiral toward Age Related Cognitive Decline (ARCD). As Dr. Jack Lewis writes at The Independent, ARCD is an inevitable part of aging. If we were all to live to be 150, he says, our capacity to maintain focus and memory will have long since degraded. It's just a simple fact of life... or at least until those darn scientists figure out this whole immortality thing.
If the above bit of cranial memento mori is getting you down, Dr. Lewis offers solace by suggesting several strategies you can employ to stall the process by which your brain shrinks toward ineffectuality. The first is to exercise regularly. The brain thrives when steady streams of blood pump oxygen through it. Sitting at your desk 40 hours every week isn't doing your brain any favors. Go for a long walk after work in order to feed it what it likes.
Something else you can do to keep your brain fit is to take advantage of neuroplasticity. Just as the muscles in your body get stronger when you exercise them, our brains benefit from activities that cause it to change and adapt.
"By consistently challenging it with fresh mental activities, your brain will be continually forced to restructure, rewire and build new connections to cope with the new demands placed on it."
There are four activities Dr. Lewis cites as delayers of ARCD: learning a musical instrument, playing chess, dancing, and reading.
Each of these activities requires your brain to interpret, adapt, or think critically. Learning guitar requires memorization of finger movements. Playing chess is all about stretching cognitive capacity. Dancing is similar to playing an instrument, though with an intrinsic social element added. Reading involves connecting words on a page with an understanding of what they mean in your mind.
Those four (plus exercise) are but the tip of the iceberg. Learning a new language is another way to expand your brain through neuroplasticity. No matter how you choose to keep your brain in shape, coupling these activities with exercise will postpone ARCD, and thus dementia and Alzheimer's. It's the least we can do for our poor and doomed brains.
Wendy Suzuki understands the importance of a healthy brain. Meditation has been proven as another method to keep our brains healthy, happy, and up to date. Dr. Suzuki explains how short bursts of meditation can change the biology of your brain for the better, making you healthier and happier.
Read more at EurekAlert!
Read more at The Independent
Photo credit: Jezper / Shutterstock
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.