Body Articles Q4 2011(4)

How Exercise Benefits the Brain

How Exercise Benefits the Brain

Nov 30, 2011

To learn more about how exercise affects the brain, scientists in Ireland recently asked a group of sedentary male college students to take part in a memory test followed by strenuous exercise. First, the young men watched a rapid-fire lineup of photos with the faces and names of strangers. After a break, they tried to recall the names they had just seen as the photos again zipped across a computer screen. Afterward, half of the students rode a stationary bicycle, at an increasingly strenuous pace, until they were exhausted. The others sat quietly for 30 minutes. Then both groups took the brain-teaser test again. Notably, the exercised volunteers performed significantly better on the memory test than they had on their first try, while the volunteers who had rested did not improve. Meanwhile, blood samples taken throughout the experiment offered a biological explanation for the boost in memory among the exercisers. Immediately after the strenuous activity, the cyclists had significantly higher levels of a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which is known to promote the health of nerve cells. The men who had sat quietly showed no comparable change in BDNF levels. For some time, scientists have believed that BDNF helps explain why mental functioning appears to improve with exercise. However, they haven’t fully understood which parts of the brain are affected or how those effects influence thinking. The Irish study suggests that the increases in BDNF prompted by exercise may play a particular role in improving memory and recall.

Source: New York Times

Core Truths

Nov 7, 2011

There's much more to your belly than meets the eye. Most people target the six-pack surface muscles but neglect the deep abdominal ones, namely the transversus abdominis, iliopsoas, and diaphragm. Not only do these key players cinch your waist, they enhance crucial functions of your body -- breathing, digestion, and relaxation -- and help you stand up straighter. They are the source of your center of gravity. Start with these excersies from Jill Miller that stretch the diaphragm , massage the digestive organs, and provide a strong foundation. Do the six moves as a routine two to three times per week, with a day off in between. 1. Revolved Ab Pose What It Does: Helps you use your abs in concert (unlike crunches, which isolate one muscle group) How to Do It: Lie on your back with your arms in the shape of a T and legs lifted so they're perpendicular to the floor. Shift hips a few inches to the left, then exhale and drop both legs slowly to the right, stopping before they touch the floor. Hold for a deep breath, exhale, and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Alternate for 20 reps, 10 on each side. 2. Abdominal Vacuum What It Does: Stretches the diaphragm and other deep core muscles; massages the colon, stomach, and other digestive organs to improve functioning How to Do It: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Inhale and raise arms overhead behind you. Lift your spine one vertebra at a time until your hips are high. Exhale as you relax your abs, lowering your spine down. A natural vacuum will draw your belly in. When your hips are on the floor, lower hands to start position. Repeat 7 to 10 times. 3. Elevated Leg Lift What It Does: Works the diaphragm and the iliopsoas muscles; improves your posture How to Do It: Lie on the floor with your pelvis resting on a cushion or towels. Reach arms overhead, palms face up. Engaging your core, raise the left leg and lift the right an inch off the floor. Hold and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg, alternating 15 times on each side. Tone the Outsides Eva Pelegrin designed these moves, which primarily work your outer abdominals and upper body, to improve your posture, take pressure off your lower back, and support you all day long. 4. Basket Twist What It Does: Improves spinal flexibility while toning core, back, and arms How to Do It: Sit on the floor and hold a weighted ball or any heavy object (even a basket of magazines); bend knees slightly. Lean torso back and draw navel in while keeping the spine straight. Contract your abs and move ball or weight from side to side, keeping abs tight. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 on each side. 5. Leg Thread What It Does: Improves agility, cardiovascular health, hip flexibility, and stamina How to Do It: Crouch on toes with feet shoulder distance apart, palms on floor, navel drawn in. Pivot on ball of right foot, rotate hips right, and extend your left leg out to the side , keeping it parallel to floor. Repeat with right leg. Alternate legs quickly. Do 3 to 5 sets of 10 on each side. 6. Superwoman What It Does: Strengthens the core while toning arms and upper body How to Do It: Start in a push-up position, knees on the floor, palms resting on a small towel. Draw shoulders down, navel in. Without arching your lower back, slowly move your hands forward until your chest touches the floor. Release and return to start. For more of a challenge, use upper body to slide hands back to starting position. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps each.

Source: Whole Living

Ancient Skin Wisdom

Oct 25, 2011

Know thyself maybe sage advice but in the beauty aisle it's a tough order to follow. According to the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, to truly understand why our skin and hair react to the way the do we need to look beyond the mirror. Understanding what your dominate dosha is means more than knowing if you skin is oil or dry it also helps explain what foods you should eat and how to make the best lifestyle choices. Apply the principles of Ayurveda and you’ll spend less time treating this week’s beauty crisis and more time restoring overall harmony and balance for skin, hair and body.

Source: Whole Living Magazine

Weightless

Weightless

Oct 17, 2011

Whether you're trying to lose 50 pounds or the last five, body issues tend to weigh heavily on us. There's not just the physical weight to deal with, but the mental and emotional burden of that weight that consumes us. Imagine floating through your days free of body angst. What if, instead of drag and shuffle, you could float through your days? Sure, losing a few pounds may lighten your physical load, but even for those who've lost half their body weight will tell you that something about that heaviness persists until we face it and let it go, accepting who we are now, regardless of what we've done or been or wished we were. Writer Suzan Colon shares her own personal struggles with her body in "Weightless." This is a very touching and powerful story – a must read!

Source: Whole Living