Building pathways around ingrained reactions
I've always been interested in how exercise might help our brain. That's why I became excited when I got a copy of Spark, by John Ratey. It's been around since 2008, yet many of its findings are still not widely know.
The subtitle of the book is "The Revolutionary New Science Of Exercise And The Brain".
The book is now heavily underlined. I like to underline key passages in books as I read them. The act of underlining helps me remember.
Spoiler: I didn't hang around to see
People were screaming. Dazed, I wondered why some were running towards me; no, wait - they aren't looking at me?
Oh! It's the guy next to me down and out.
My tinnitus is screaming so hard it is hurting my head. What the heck just happened?
Achieving success through consistency requires this universal strategy
When I write about the benefits of exercise, I often say consistency is king. But I'm wrong. People can turn up physically but not mentally - and that's a problem because they give up too quickly.
We need to understand that being consistent is not the strategy. Consistency is a tactic. In other words, consistency is about keeping on pedalling - strategy is about heading in the right direction.
Unexpectedly, consistency has a universal strategy.
This interests me because I've seen many people be very consistent in their actions yet at the end of the day not make progress. If they understood the universal strategy behind the habit of consistency, they could have succeeded.
Your brain can regenerate cells, which means that it is able to replenish and repair your nerve highways to keep you cognitively fit.
A least, that's what some scientists have argued for the last 50 years.
Before then, scientists were firm on the "fact" that we are born with all the brain cells that we would ever have. From that moment on they only die - resulting in our doddery old selves.
In the 1960s some scientists claimed that they had evidence of new neurons in the brain. This was called neurogenesis.
This is fantastic news, if true. However, studies since then have been ambivalent, especially many studies this decade.
The 2019 Medscape Report "15 Studies That Challenged medical Dogma in 2019" caught my attention - in particular the first item. It brought stunning news.
If you can stand then you can exercise - what to do next when you have sprains, strains and injuries (and you are 50+)
It's a downward spiral if we stop exercising because of pain or injury. Of course, sometimes it's "doctor's orders" and then you need to obey. And if you don’t have good body awareness then you can cause compensation stress in other parts of your body.
That said, in my experience, most people give up too easily.
If you can stand without troubling pain then you can do something. If you've not been exercising then you can start, with something gentle. If you've been exercising then you have a chance to keep up and not lose all of your hard-won gains while you recover from your injury.
Think about people with chronic pain. Some have a fear of exercise and avoid movement. They often get worse. Others manage their fears and regain their confidence by starting and sticking with an exercise plan. They get better - first mentally and then physically.
Things to try, to avoid medication
Unfortunately stress and anxiety are the hallmarks of the 21st century. Just before Xmas 2018, on a local TV show, 3 soccer moms were discussing their plans in the lead-up to Xmas. What kind of shocked me was when they all agreed that there was "so much pressure, so much stress".
Objectively, Xmas is a neutral event. It is not inherently stressful nor without stress. It is our beliefs and reactions which are "stressful", not the event. But knowing that that wouldn't help the three moms. The tips in this post will help to relieve this type of stress, which is an outcome of our beliefs.
In addition to these societal changes it is well know the rate of depression increases as we age. This is a complicated process with some key factors driving it being imbalances in neurotransmitters, atrophication of the amygdala - the region of the brain most important for controlling mood - and a shrinking hippocampus. Research shows that the hippocampus is smaller in some depressed people. These factors are all "natural" by-products of aging.
Here's the good news. You can slow the rate of aging and combat some of the effects of stress and depression - whatever the cause - using the following four techniques.
An under-appreciate benefit of HIIT exercise
Arterial stiffness occurs as a consequence of biological aging and arteriosclerosis. What is often not well appreciated is that exercise can make a significant contribution to reducing arterial stiffness, and thus mitigating the adverse health consequences.
How does that work?
Exercising makes the heart work harder and this sends more frequent pulses of blood out into the arterial system. These "pulses" are not just pushed along by the force of the heart, as in a pump pushing water through a hose. The blood is pumped along by the muscles in the arteries contracting and squeezing like squeezing toothpaste.
This exercises the arterial and vascular muscles! The exercise reduces their "stiffness', just like other muscles.
And in addition, as you exercise your heart it becomes stronger and able to pump out bigger pulses of blood with each stroke. That's why your resting heart rate drops as you get fitter. These bigger pulses make the arterial and vascular muscles work even harder to push the bigger pulses of blood along, and they get even less stiff.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter