Exercise  4-5 days a week to slow down heart aging

Participating in exercise 4-5 days per week is necessary to keep your heart young, according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology. These findings could be an important step to develop exercise strategies to slow down such aging.

The optimal amount of exercise required to slow down ageing of the heart and blood vessels has long been a matter of vigorous debate. As people age, arteries – which transport blood in and out of the heart – are prone to stiffening, which increases the risk of heart disease. Whilst any form of exercise reduces the overall risk of death from heart problems, this new research shows different sizes of arteries are affected differently by varying amounts of exercise. 2-3 days a week of 30 minutes exercise may be sufficient to minimise stiffening of middle sized arteries, while exercising 4-5 days a week is required to keep the larger central arteries youthful.

The authors performed a cross-sectional examination of 102 people over 60 years old, with a consistently logged lifelong exercise history. Detailed measures of arterial stiffness were collected from all participants, who were then categorised in one of four groups depending on their lifelong exercise history: Sedentary: less than 2 exercise sessions/week; Casual Exercisers: 2-3 exercise sessions per week; Committed Exercisers: 4-5 exercise sessions/week and Masters Athletes: 6-7 exercise sessions per week. (NB: an exercise session was at least 30 minutes).

Source: Exercise to stay young: 4-5 days a week to slow down your heart’s aging

Brain mapping with gamers finds 6 new neuron types

By turning a time-intensive research problem into an interactive game, Princeton neuroscientist Sebastian Seung has built an unprecedented data set of neurons, which he is now turning over to the public via the Eyewire Museum. Maps of retinal ganglion cells were developed machine learning paired with hundreds of thousands of person-hours volunteered by Eyewire gamers who have pieced together these neural cells, using data from a mouse retina gathered in 2009.

Source: Princeton researchers crowdsource brain mapping with gamers, discover 6 new neuron types

Meditating through Exercise

For devoted and aspiring exercisers, here is some good news. Research suggests that those who intentionally focus on the feeling of moving and deliberately take in their surroundings enjoy exercise more. After tracking how much people exercised, how mindful they were while doing it, and how satisfied they were with their workouts overall, scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands suggest “mindfulness may amplify satisfaction, because one is satisfied when positive experiences with physical activity become prominent.” What that means for your daily routine is that being mindful can support your exercising habits, and vice versa.

What exactly does mindful exercise involve? You’re paying attention to your body: your muscles, pace, breathing, resistance, and tension. How does it feel to get out of your comfort zone and twist and stretch beyond your usual seated or standing positions? How do you feel emotionally? Are you energized and determined, or are you feeling depleted, maybe needing a minute to refresh? Listen to your needs, and push or protect yourself accordingly. Be mindful of your thoughts too. Do you have a drill sergeant in your head? Are you comparing yourself to the person doing yoga next to you, or do you bring a curious, kind attention to how your workout is going?

Source: How to Meditate through Exercise

Repressing prejudices

A hypothetical example: a white professor describes himself as having a liberal, tolerant worldview. He confirms that it is nonsense and scientifically insupportable to assume that people with different ethnic background have different levels of intelligence. However, the convictions he professes are ostensibly contradicted by his behaviour: he acts, for example, surprised, when a person of colour asks an intelligent question in his seminar. Moreover, his intuitive impression is that his white students look smarter.

Researchers refer to cases when the professed convictions deviate from intuitive behaviour as implicit bias. This kind of bias can be identified using certain psychological tests.

Unconscious or not?

“There’s a fierce debate going on in the fields of social psychology and philosophy on whether the prejudices measured with such tests are unconscious or not,” says the researcher. The fact that people voice liberal and tolerant convictions in spite of their implicit bias points to “unconscious”. However, empirical studies in the past had shown that test participants have the ability to notice their implicit bias under specific conditions. “Interestingly enough, the participants are generally surprised or even shocked once they realise their own implicit bias,” says Krickel.

In order to explain these data, the researcher used psychoanalysis. More specifically: she argues that a philosophically informed notion of Freudian repression constitutes a feasible explanation of the apparently contradictory data.

Source: How humans repress prejudices

Motivation to move can start with mindfulness

A meditation and stress reduction program may be as effective at getting people to move more as structured exercise programs, according to a new study led by an Iowa State University researcher.

The study compared two intervention programs – mindfulness-based stress reduction and aerobic exercise training – with a control group and measured changes in exercise, general physical activity and sedentary time. Jacob Meyer, an ISU assistant professor of kinesiology, says people assigned to the two interventions were more active than those in the control group, logging roughly an extra 75 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity following the eight-week interventions. The results are published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Source: Motivation to move may start with being mindful

Music and Child Development 

When your child plays or is learning an instrument, their concentration will be enhanced as the activity will need them to be focused for long periods. This development of concentration will transition to school work where they’ll be able to put their focus on their subjects.

Introducing your child to musical instruments will help improve their hand-eye coordination.

Modern times have brought more and more alternatives to traditional forms of medicine. One such method is using certain types of songs as a form of therapy. Medical practitioners acknowledge that exposure to certain types of music aids children relaxes. This is because the songs will lower their heart rates and blood pressure.

Source: The Benefits of Music Exposure on Child Development – TFOT

Oncologists discuss medical marijuana with patients

Data from a new survey show that as many as 80 percent of oncologists have discussed medical marijuana use with their patients. According to the authors, this is the first nationally-representative survey to examine oncologists’ practices and beliefs on the subject since the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. The research published online today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Our study shows that medical marijuana is a salient topic in cancer care today, and the majority of oncologists think it may have utility for certain patients,” said study author Ilana Braun, MD, chief of the Division of Adult Psychosocial Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. “While this topic is common, however, data on medical marijuana use is less so. We need to bridge this gap so oncologists have the unbiased information they need to assist with decision-making related to medical marijuana use.”

California enacted the United States’ first medical marijuana law in 1996, and today its use is legal in more than 30 states, almost all which list cancer as a qualifying condition. In the 22 intervening years, however, no randomized clinical trial has investigated the utility of whole-plant medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms such as pain, insomnia, or nausea and vomiting in patients with cancer.

Source: Most oncologists have discussed medical marijuana with patients

New approaches for PTSD prevention and treatment

Understanding Dysfunctional Fear and Emotional Processes May Improve Treatment for PTSD

Dr. Ressler notes that patients with PTSD have “characteristic reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms,” which can persist for months or years after exposure to traumatic events. Posttraumatic stress disorder affects about 6 percent of the population, but the rate is much higher in groups exposed to severe trauma, such as combat veterans, refugees, and assault victims.

Although PTSD is at least partly genetic, it also depends on personal history of trauma in childhood and adulthood, as well as psychological factors linked to mediation of fear and regulation of emotions. “Therefore, PTSD is among the most likely of psychiatric disorders to be understood from the perspective of environmental influences interacting with biological vulnerability,” according to Dr. Ressler. The special issue provides expert updates in four key areas related to the development, diagnosis, and management of PTSD

Source: Progress in posttraumatic stress disorder –Increased understanding points to new approaches for PTSD prevention and treatment

America’s Rising Anxiety Epidemic

New survey results show Americans’ anxiety levels experienced a sharp increase in the past year, with almost 40 percent of respondents saying they felt more anxious than they did a year ago.

That’s a pretty big spike – following on the heels of a 36 percent jump between 2016 and 2017 – and it means this year’s national, averaged ‘anxiety score’ has tipped over halfway on a 100-point scale: it’s now sitting at 51, with a five-point increase since 2017.

“This poll shows US adults are increasingly anxious particularly about health, safety, and finances,” says American Psychiatry Association president Anita Everett, whose organisation sponsored the survey.

Source: America Really Is in The Midst of a Rising Anxiety Epidemic


Frequent sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke.

Frequent sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, according to a new international study. In a 15-year follow-up study, people taking a sauna 4-7 times a week were 61% less likely to suffer a stroke than those taking a sauna once a week. This is the first prospective large-scale study on this topic, and the findings were reported in Neurology.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, placing a heavy human and economic burden on societies. The reduced risk associated with sauna bathing was found by a team of scientists from the Universities of Eastern Finland, Bristol, Leicester, Atlanta, Cambridge and Innsbruck.

Source: Sauna