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Get Healthy To Further Your Career

Stress Relief?This article really caught my attention as I can completely relate to the content. If you live and work the city lifestyle, the chances are that regular alcohol consumption is regarded as the norm. You get to the end of the week (which was apparently Thursday at my last company), and to unwind, you hit the pub for a few ice cold jars – or whatever your tipple may be. That very thought right now has got me excited at 4.30pm on a Friday afternoon. The trouble is, that this often continues over the weekend and what goes up, must come down. [Read more…]

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Strengthen Your Brain With Exercise

We were born to move, yet too many people do not prioritise exercise. This article explains how you strengthen your brain with exercise, improve learning capabilities and also slow down aging. It was once believed that our brains stopped growing when we reached a certain age. This is of course nonsense. Our brains are constantly undergoing changes, the neurons between cells can be renewed and strengthened with the right treatment, or indeed weakened and severed when not treated with care. Exercise is key in maintaining the brain’s plasticity – its ability to build and repair and change throughout our lives. Take a few minutes out to read this no-nonsense, concise and informative article by Lori Rockl for Castanet.net.

Strengthen Your Brain With Exercise

Exercise for your brainNumerous studies have been conducted on brain plasticity to explore the changes in cellular structure which occur in the brain over time. A number of factors appear to contribute, from hormones generated inside the body to shock therapy. One of the most effective and least compromising is exercise. Studies show that people are able to enhance the flexibility of the brain by “exercising” it, much like exercising the musculoskeletal system can be improved or modified with exercise.
The growth of new brain cells and nerves – neurogenesis – happens when the brain blood volume increases. Blood volume increases during moderate exercise. The hippocampal area of the brain, the area responsible for memory and learning, is the area primarily affected by increased blood volume. This is good news for us with aging brains where memory seems to deteriorate and learning new things like language or music also seems to be fairly challenging.

Read the whole article on Castanet

Therefore, you strengthen your brain with exercise by stimulating neurogenesis. This happens when the blood volume increases which of course exercise induces. It’s frustrating to see people neglect exercise as they’re neglecting their bodies, their health as a whole and their brains. I speak from the heart, having parents who don’t seem to understand the importance of exercise, knowing that their aging could be considerably slowed if they undertook regular exercise.  Spread the word!

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Exercise For Brain Health & Protection

It will come as no surprise to many that there is more conclusive research to promote exercise for brain health and protection. Our bodies were designed to move. Our vital organs require exercise to function properly and that includes our brain. I recently read that not exercising is actually a depressant  – which makes complete sense given the amazing benefits it brings to our minds. This is an article from Denise Mann for WebMD. It’s never too late to start exercising!

Exercise For Brain Health & Protection

Exercise for brain health and protectionNew research shows that older people who reported exercising for 30 minutes at least three times a week had a nearly 40% lower risk of dementia compared to people who were less active.

The study included 639 people who had an average age of 74. All participants were living independently and without disability. Of these people, 90 developed dementia during the three years of follow-up.

Dementia is an umbrella term for multiple types of mental disability, the most common being Alzheimer’s. In this study, most of the dementia cases were cases of vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is related to inadequate blood flow in thebrain.

About two-thirds of the people in the study said they exercised for 30 minutes a day three times a week. They were less likely to develop problems with thinking skills or dementia than their counterparts who did not get regular physical activity.

Continue reading on WebMD.com

Although this exercise for brain health & protection article is featuring people seventy plus, it’s well worth absorbing by people of all ages. People don’t prioritise exercise enough these days, yet it’s essential to live a healthy life. I’ve never regretted exercising, ever. It gives you a natural high too – who needs drugs!

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How Exercise Makes Us Happier

We’ve all heard that exercise releases endorphins in the brain, but do we really know what that means? This article by Joe Wildrich on Buffer, which I actually found on Lifehacker, explains how exercise makes us happier. He then explains that it’s not about becoming a marathon runner, but engaging in just 20 minutes a day, before you start your day. Countless studies have shown that this is the most effective time in terms of fueling your brain which will help you focus and be more productive for the day to come.

How Exercise Makes Us Happier

Exercise For FocusIf you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and like things are clear after exercising.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. Your endorphins main purpose are this, writes researcher MK McGovern:

“These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain, and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.”

Continue reading on Buffer

Hopefully that has clarified how exercise makes us happier – it certainly did for me. It was great advice to make exercise a habit, and as Joel suggested, to actually put your gym clothes over your alarm clock, so it’s easier to actually do the exercise first thing in the morning, rather than put it off until the evening, or tomorrow, or the next day. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so stick it out for those 21 days and it’ll become a natural part of your life and feel amazing for it. 20 minutes every day, it’s really not that hard to fit in! I actually believe that our brains are half asleep when we don’t exercise regularly. If you think about how great you feel after exercise, how clear your mind becomes and how you feel you can tackle anything, I wonder how people can function at all without it.

 

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How Exercise Feeds The Brain

We all know that exercise is a basic requirement for our main organs to function properly, and most people have heard that exercise is excellent in alleviating stress, anxiety, to lift your mood, keep fit, help you concentrate and focus etc. There is more evidence that shows how exercise feeds the brain, and that’s its ability to improve memory, cognitive ability, and slow down or prevent dementia.  This article from by Meg Selig for Psychology Today, explains how recent research has presented all of the above findings.

How Exercise Feeds Your Brain

Exercise Feeds Your Brain1.  Exercise and memory smarts. Exercise guru Gretchen Reynolds reports here that when a group of 120 older men and women followed either a walking program or were part of a control group, the walkers performed better on cognitive tests and regained volume in the hippocampus—a part of the brain responsible for memory, certain types of learning, and the genesis of new brain cells. A typical 65-year-old walker developed the hippocampus of a 63-year-old.  My new goal: A youthful hippocampus!

2.  Exercise and name/face recognition.  In this study, after just 30 minutes of exercise, exercisers were better able to recall names and faces than volunteers who sat quietly for 30 minutes. This ability would come in handy in reducing those embarrassing I-know-I-know-you-but-who-are-you moments.

Continue reading on Psychology Today

So if you’re not regularly exercising already, hopefully these findings on how exercise feeds the brain will entice you to do so. I think not exercising, is like trying to run a car without maintaining it. It’ll be fine for a while, but soon enough the engine will become sluggish, and gradually, over time, parts will start to fail. It’s so important to exercise. It doesn’t even have to be strenuous but regular exercise is imperative.

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10 Ways To Focus On Beating The Most Common Stressors

If you’re struggling to focus on your work, goals, exercise regime or anything else, then it may be down to stress.  Here are 10 ways to focus on beating the most common stressors, by Paula Davis-Laack for Psychology Today, from which I’ve excerpted one of my favourites.  I like this point, because I truly believe we’re capable of doing anything that we put our mind to (within reason, I’m not suggesting that by 32 you can become a Formula One racing driver). We are surrounded by information, friends, contacts and all we need to know is how to use that information to reach our end goal.

Ways To Focus On Beating StressYou are unsure of your ability to do something

Strategies:

• If you can’t figure it out on your own, talk to a friend, co-worker, or your boss, if possible. Look for information online, in books, and other resources.

• Build your self-efficacy, which is the ability to believe you can accomplish what you want to accomplish. Start by keeping a journal of “wins.” Write down all of the times in your life when you have exceeded expectations, accomplished tough goals, and were in control of your life. Review this list often and keep adding to it. If you have to, start small. Small victories create momentum which is a great foundation from which to succeed at more complicated tasks.

• Identify your strengths. People who successfully manage their stress understand that they cannot be everything to everybody and remain effective; instead, they have a keen awareness of how to leverage their unique blend of strengths, skills, and talents.

Continue reading the full article from Psychology Today here

I’ll be honest, I was quite surprised to read these 10 ways to focus on beating the most common stressors and see exercise only mentioned once. Psychology Today is probably my favourite authority site from which I excerpt. Having said that, these are 10 very specific stressors so I can understand why exercise didn’t feature in every solution. Exercise for me, is probably the single most effective stress reliever of everything I have tried personally, and there are plenty of articles on this site under the category of exercise and dealing with stress that will support this. It takes you away from your working environment and allows you to be mindful. It also pumps blood and oxygen around your body and vital organs providing all the necessary fuel your body requires.

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40 Ways To Focus On Your Weight Loss Goals

If you’ve ever joined a weight loss program, and failed, you’re among the majority by far apparently. Here are 40 ways to focus on your weight loss goals which are written as mistakes people make, but rearrange them, and you have 22 ways to focus on achieving your goals, rather than failing with them. They are written by Peta Bee for the Daily Mail, and quite a few of them are pretty original, like eating off the wrong coloured plate and saying “I can’t” rather than “I don’t” when offered certain foods, and listing to the wrong type of music when eating, can actually cause you to eat more.  I’ve excerpted the first 5 of 22 points:

Yoga For Focus And Weight Loss1 Eating cereal for breakfast. A U.S. study found breakfast cereal sweetened with sugar left overweight participants hungry before lunchtime, and they consumed more calories a day than those given an egg for breakfast (the protein kept them full). Egg eaters also had significantly lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.

2 Having milk in your tea. Last year, Indian scientists found tea contains high levels of compounds, theaflavins and thearubigins, that help to reduce the amount of fat absorbed by the gut, and can cut cholesterol. However, proteins found in cows’ milk neutralise this ability. Drink your tea black.

3 Eating white bread. Too many refined carbs, especially white bread and white rice, can lead to weight gain, particularly around the midriff, found researchers at Tufts University in Boston.

Two groups ate roughly the same number of calories each day, but those who ate mostly refined carbs added a half inch on their waist per year compared with those eating unrefined ‘whole’ foods such as vegetables and  wholegrain bread.

4 Not reading food labels. A study in the Journal of Consumer Affairs showed that people who habitually read food labels as well as taking exercise lose more weight than those who merely exercise. What’s more, those who only read food labels and are sedentary lose more than those who exercise but ignore the food labels.

5 Drinking too much fruit juice. Fruit juices and other sugary drinks have a stronger impact on weight than calories from solid food, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Cutting out just one sugary drink a day resulted in a weight loss of more than 1lb after six months. Read the full article here

I think if you applied all of these 40 ways to focus on your weight loss goals, you’d be on to a winner – almost without having to invest in any fitness program. They all make a lot of sense. Having written an ebook myself in the men’s health and fitness area, through extensive research and by pairing up with experts, I see a lot of common ground here. Being stressed and not sleeping enough feature in the list too – both of which affect your hormone levels and thus your ability to burn fat, and of course hinder your ability to focus.

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7 Ways To Focus At Work

When working an average of eight hours a day, it’s all too easy to lose focus with the important tasks of the day.  Here, clinical psychologist and founder of Memory Arts LLC, Cynthia Green, explains 7 ways to focus at work which you can put to practice in the next 5 minutes.   If you think you’ve read them all before, then think again.  Some of them are rather original – if you doodle, aka a doodler, you may be pleased to know that this can apparently help you to focus!

7 Ways To Focus At Work

Doodle To Focus

Doodling Can Help You To Focus!

1. Rearrange You Desk. Clear some clutter from your life. Folks who are organized remember better. Why? Because they have mastered one of the secret to better memory — getting organized. Spend 5 minutes organizing your desk by getting rid of what is non-essential. Keep out papers that require immediate attention and file away what you can. Look over how your desk is organized and see if you can think of a better way to put it all together.

2. Doodle. Do you doodle? Many of us (including folks such as Bill Gates, former President Clinton and others) do. But did you know that doodling is good for your brain health? Recent research suggests that doodling helps us maintain focus and remember more effectively. A recent study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology found that subjects assigned a doodling task performed 29 percent better than their non-doodling counterparts on a surprise memory test covering the material they were learning simultaneously. Doodling improves attention, making it more likely that you will acquire things that you later want to recall. So when you are in a meeting or on a conference call, go ahead and doodle.

3. Keep Up Your Social Network. Studies have shown that folks who are more social have an associated reduced risk for memory loss. In one recent study, Harvard researchers found that people with lower levels of social interaction were more likely to show memory problems after 6 years that desk and connect with your family and friends for 5 minutes. It’s good for your soul and good for your brain.

4. Play Online. Research has shown that we can better maintain intellectual skills critical to our work performance by giving them a good “workout.” One of the best ways to keep these skills sharp is to play games against the clock. Timed activities force us to focus, think fast and be nimble in our approach. So take 5 minutes during lunch or as your schedule permits to get your brain in the game.

5. Jump Some Jacks. Here’s a tip that’s pretty basic, but packed with brain boosting power. Aerobic exercise is one of the best things we can do for our brain, as it revs up our daily performance and reduces our long-term dementia risk. Jumping jacks area simple calisthenic exercise you can do in a small space that will quickly get your blood pumping. So go ahead! Stand up at your desk and try out some jumping jacks for 5 minutes.

6. Wear Your Watch Upside Down. Give your brain a little stretch each time you check your watch by wearing your watch upside down. The subtle change doesn’t take much effort, but will force your brain to think out of its comfort zone. These kinds of “neurobic” activities are simple and fun and are a terrific way to challenge your brain’s flexibility and routine.

7. Learn How to Remember a Name. Here’s a smart tip we can all really use: Spend 5 minutes learning some simple memory strategies to boost your memory for names. For example, try repeating information as you hear it. This easy technique will force you to focus on what you are learning and give the chance to rehearse it, increasing the odds that you’ll remember it. Or use my Connections Technique and make a connection between what you are learning and something that you are already know. Meeting Florence? Connect her name to a famous Florence, such as Florence Nightingale, or the city of Florence, Italy.

Click here to view the original source of the article

Of these 7 ways to focus at work, the suggestions that jumped out to me, aside from doodling, were the tips to organise your desk and jump some jacks.  In England, I think these are referred to as star jumps.  It should be made compulsory that every 40 minutes on the office floor, everyone stands at their desks and does 5 minutes of star jumps to get oxygen flowing around the brain.  I wonder what would happen with productivity?

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How Exercise Benefits Your Brain

There are a number of posts on this site related to how exercise benefits your brain, each with a different angle.  This article explains how exercise throughout childhood has been proven to shape the way our brains are wired and helps with learning and memory.

How Exercise Benefits Your Brain

Exercise is a real boon – clearing the mind, pumping in more blood and oxygen to the brain and doing much more, latest research suggests.

David Bucci, associate professor of psychology at Darmouth College, and his collaborators have identified a gene which seems to mediate the degree to which exercise benefits the brain and in mental illness too.

Bucci began his pursuit of the link between exercise and memory with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among the commonest childhood psychological disorders, the journal Neuroscience reports.

“The notion of pumping children full of psycho-stimulants at an early age is troublesome,” Bucci cautions. “We frankly don’t know the long-term effects of administering drugs at an early age – drugs that affect the brain – so looking for alternative therapies is clearly important.”

Based on observations of ADHD children in University of Vermont summer camps, athletes or team sports players were found to respond better to behavioural interventions than more sedentary children, according to a Dartmouth statement.

Accordingly, they investigated a mechanism through which exercise seems to improve learning and memory, known as the “brain derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF), also involved in growth of the developing brain.

The degree of BDNF expression in exercising rats correlated positively with improved memory, and exercising as an ­adolescent had longer lasting effects compared to the same duration of exercise, but done as an adult.

“The implication is that exercising during development, as your brain is growing, is changing the brain in concert with normal developmental changes, resulting in your having more permanent wiring of the brain in support of things like learning and memory,” says Bucci.

Read the original article here

When reading this article on how exercise benefits your brain, I thought it was interesting to hear David Bucci’s opinion on the unknown long-term effects drugs, namely those used to treat ADHD.  Surely anything that chemically alters the brain has got to have some kind of side effect?  Our bodies weren’t designed to be chemically altered, surely? As Sir Ken Robinson argues, perhaps children diagnosed with ADHD, simply perform better in different environments, that require for them to move, in one way or other, in order for them to think? In case you missed this short clip:

 

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How Exercise Increases Attention And Focus

Would you like proof of how exercise increases attention and focus? Here, Meg Faris, for Eye Witness News explains all. There are a number of articles about exercise and focusing on this site, but this one is different.  It’s different, because it’s a different study.

Last week we told you about new brain studies showing that exercise actually increases new brain tissue more than thinking or doing brain puzzles and cognitive exercises. Well now exercise is also shown to also increase your attention and help you process information faster. The neuroelectrical brain activity on scans, shows that brain activity after 20 minutes sitting, is low.

The brain scans from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, suggest fewer resources devoted to focus after 20 minutes of rest. But brain scans after 20 minutes of hoofing it, show much more brain activity. Research has found that just 20 minutes of working out can help your mood for the next 12 hours, and it helps your body become less affected by stress.

While you’re exercising, you’re not only helping your brain and mood, but your body as well by burning off fat. Well now a new European study suggests you can burn more fat during the exact same work out. How? Eat something low glycemic for a snack pre-workout. Nuts and apples would fit into that category because they trigger low levels of the hormone insulin. But eat it with a high glycemic or sugary, high fructose food, such as candy, cookies or a soft drink, and you lose the positive fat-burning effect.

Read the full article here

Not only does this show how exercise increases attention and focus, but it also shows that your brain slows down after twenty minutes of rest.  It actually slows down.  No wonder people go into zones where they are completely unproductive when they’re sat in front of a computer for 8 hours a day.

 

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