Friday, September 14, 2007

Web Fitness: Exercise Makes You Smarter

Now, I was a genius to begin with, but this could be useful for others. Serious though, there have been a couple of studies recently that show that portions of the brain especially useful to higher-function thinking can actually grow as we age. This is big, since for a long time we've all thought we were doomed to never recover the brain cells we lose daily.

It also turns out that exercise makes you smarter.
”Gage’s discovery hit the world of neurological research like a thunderclap. Since then, scientists have been finding more evidence that the human brain is not only capable of renewing itself but that exercise speeds the process.”

Exercise doubles blood-flow to the hippocampus, and the theory is that this increased blood-flow allows increased neurogenesis.

Every day it seems like they're discovering a new benefit of exercise. I love it.

A new study shows that there's no link between self-weighing and depression.
”Frequent self-weighing was independently associated with both the absence of depressive symptoms and lower BMI levels.
'The findings of the study suggest that recommendations for regular self-weighing appear to be equally beneficial for adults regardless of their depression status,' said Linde.”

The study even says that women who weigh themselves daily as opposed to weekly or monthly see even more progress. My guess would be that this is due to natural upward fluctuation in weight that can happen on a day to day basis being taken as weight gain, and then overcompensated for. I think if the scale is going to be a guide, one should weigh weekly. I prefer that people be positively motivated by their progress rather than negatively motivated by imagined setbacks, but apparently I may be wrong about this. One thing I will point out: you should be trying to put on muscle at the same time you're losing fat, which can make the scale deceptive.

It's painful going to the gas pump anymore. It's one of the few times I'm really happy that I drive my large self around in a tiny little clown car (I call it my car-suit. If I ever can't find a parking place, I can just stick my arms and legs out the side windows and wear my car around). There may be an upside, though, and a big upside, because high gas prices could make you skinnier.
”Entitled 'A Silver Lining? The Connection between Gas Prices and Obesity,' the study found that an additional $1 per gallon in real gasoline prices would reduce U.S. obesity by 15 percent after five years. “
Living in a sprawling suburb, I can tell you that the weight loss of people in pedestrian-friendly areas are going to be averaged against those of us who don't want to walk two hours to the bookstore. People in side-walk-less, winding, spread-out, SUV-drivers-will-drive-over-you-for-looking-at-them-cross-eyed sorta places are going to have to motivate themselves through other, possibly less wallet-centric means.

I'm an anxious person, and I've been using exercise to regulate this for years. But I can tell you, getting out of the rat race, doing what I'm interested in, and becoming my own boss has really reduced my stress levels. So, maybe you should quit your job too. How to Lose Weight By Quitting Your Job
”Research has shown that there is a very strong link between job strain (heavy demands, little decision-making power, and little social support) and risk of obesity.
What's interesting is the link to central obesity”

Weight carried around the middle is the worst kind for your heart, and it's the kind that stress puts on. If you can't find a way to reduce your work stress, you should be regulating with exercise, just to nullify some of the bad effects. Next week I'm going to post my September column for Kansas City Wellness Magazine in which I go on and on as I tend to do about the stress-relieving benefits of exercise.

And to throw a little fuel on our burning celebrity obsession (Not that we're obsessed with burning celebrities. You know what I mean!), Jessica Biel's trainer reveals some of her workout routine.
It appears to me that a lot of it is needlessly
1. Complicated and
2. Time consuming.
He says he emphasizes the old school lifts, but I see little evidence in the routine. For the average person, who can't exercise 4 hours a day, the big lifts are where you're going to make your progress. And progress is the best motivator.

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