Category Archives: The Unique You

Research finds being overweight makes brain ‘10 years older’ than if you are slim

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Diet & Aging

Diet & Aging: Being overweight in middle-age makes the brain age by 10 years, research by the University of Cambridge has found. The study, which scanned 473 brains, found changes in the brain structure of overweight people which are normally seen in those far older. The volume of white matter – the tissue that connects areas of the brain and allows information to be communicated between regions – shrunk far more in those with a Body Mass Index above 25.

Shrinkage of parts of the brain is associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The Cambridge Study found no differences in cognitive skills when participants underwent IQ tests.  But the men and women will be scanned as they get older, to check for changes which indicate mental decline. Human brains naturally shrink with age, but scientists are increasingly recognizing that obesity – already linked to conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease – may also affect the onset and progression of brain ageing.

In the study of people aged between 20 and 87, researchers looked at the impact of obesity on brain structure across the adult lifespan. Researchers divided the groups into two categories: lean and overweight, depending on whether their BMI was above or below 25. They found striking differences in the volume of white matter. Overweight individuals had a widespread reduction in white matter compared with lean people.

Freedom

The team then calculated how white matter volume related to age across the two groups. They discovered that an overweight person at 50 had a comparable white matter volume to a lean person aged 60. Researchers only observed these differences from middle-age onwards, suggesting that brains may be particularly vulnerable during this period of ageing. Candidates were recruited by the Cambridge Center for Ageing and Neuroscience and the results are published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Lead researcher, Dr Lisa Ronan from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, said: “We found that those who were overweight had significantly smaller volume of white matter compared with their lean counterparts – amounting to a difference of 10 years.” Scientists expected to see differences in cognitive abilities, but these were not shown in the tests, which will be repeated as participants get older.

“As our brains age, they naturally shrink in size, but it isn’t clear why people who are overweight have a greater reduction in the amount of white matter. We can only speculate on whether obesity might in some way cause these changes or whether obesity is a consequence of brain changes.” Professor Paul Fletcher, from the Department of Psychiatry, said: “We’re living in an ageing population, with increasing levels of obesity, so it’s essential that we establish how these two factors might interact, since the consequences for health are potentially serious.”  –Telegraph

Walking meetings increase physical activity and improve bodily health

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Walking

Walking for Health: Is it time to rethink traditional work meetings? Replacing a seated work meeting with a walking meeting can increase workers’ physical activity and lead to positive health effects, according to researchers from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. As part of a study, the researchers recruited 17 workers who led weekly meetings. The workers agreed to wear an accelerometer to track their physical activity at work during a three-week period. They also adhered to guidelines for conducting meetings and note-taking while walking. The protocol included following a set route and walking for at least 30 minutes per meeting.

Results showed that, by the third week, participants had increased their moderate-vigorous physical activity to 117 minutes – up from 107 the first week and 114 the second week. Walking meetings and other interventions to increase physical activity are necessary to “counter the negative health effects of sedentary behavior,” Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, the study’s principal investigator and assistant professor of public health sciences, said in a press release.

Brisk walking for as little as 15 minutes per day can increase a person’s life expectancy by up to three years, researchers said. “Walking is known to have tremendous health benefits,” Hannah Kling, lead study author and project director, said in the release. “Having sedentary, white-collar workers consider walking meetings feasible suggests that this intervention has the potential to positively influence the health of many individuals.” The study was published June 23 in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.  –Safety & Health

Making the most of those life experiences

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Cliff

Life ExperiencesThe purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

If you ask anyone what the purpose of life is, you’ll likely receive wildly different responses. The answer to this question is subjective and deeply personal. Different things are important to us throughout the course of our lives. Yet one thing stays with us no matter where we go: our experiences. Finding ways to make the most of our experiences is a challenge that we face every day. As humans we ascribe value to the things we do, and it’s understandable. We like to feel that what we are doing has purpose. It’s important to find fulfillment in our relationships and careers. Cultivate your friendships and find company cultures that fulfill you. It’s from those experiences in life that we learn and grow. In this process of pursuing what we love, we can learn valuable lessons about ourselves and the world around us.

Pursue what you love

There’s a maturity that comes with the experience of pursuing your dreams. Before you can do that, it’s important to take inventory of your priorities. What are you passionate about? What makes you feel alive? Where do your talents thrive? Not everyone values the same things or thinks the same way, and that’s OK.

The number one way to live a life free of regret is to pursue those interests after you’ve identified them. Passion and drive can wither and die without actions supporting them. Your time is precious. It’s common to struggle with feelings of futility of when you don’t make immediate progress. We can’t choose the outcome of our actions, but we can choose everyday to keep pursuing. Every day take an action, no matter how small, to achieve your goals. Write in your blog, do those push-ups, and practice your singing. Build upon your momentum. Each day is a step forward and none of it is wasted.

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Learn from your mistakes

You’ll stumble and you’ll fall, and that’s okay. I’ve taken jobs I shouldn’t have and moved for the wrong reasons. Though that time spent may seem like a waste, I learned a lot from those experiences. It takes time to gain confidence in yourself. It takes time to learn how to stand on your own. Building connections and making friends is a process like anything else. You might fail sometimes, but you’ll learn new ways to achieve your goals in the process.

Guy Kawasaki discusses this in his book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.” He highlights how to pursue your goals, how to project your authentic self, and how to overcome opposition. All of these can be achieved through self-awareness and discovery. His business advice is widely applicable to the many challenges we face in life

If you want to change the world, you need to start by changing yourself. Making mistakes is the surest path to grow and mature as a person. The knowledge you gain will empower you to succeed in the future. Many of my strongest memories come from the times I’ve failed, and those lessons have stayed with me. There is virtue in failure. Time and perspective allows me to see the value of even the most painful situation.

Take care of yourself

Difficult and painful experiences shape our character but can also weigh us down. These frustrations burden and prevent us from moving forward. Much of our progress in life relies on willpower and a healthy emotional state. There is a strong connection between physical and mental health – and for these reasons it’s important to address mental health first. If you’re under immense stress and anxiety, your body and mind both require time to recover. It’s best to rest, recover, and slowly build back up your strength. –Huffington Post