Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park

I think any type of exercise will help erase brain fatigue. Exercise is a great way to relieve the brain of stress and fatigue. It also helps you remember things better and allows you to concentrate better. Every since I started the new semester of college, I have been taking fitness classes, which are activity based classes that are required for my major. I have absolutely seen the benefits that exercise has on my brain. I feel more energized and my brain is able to absorb the new information that I learn at school. 
Scientists have known for some time that the human brain’s ability to stay calm and focused is limited and can be overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic, jangling demands of city living, sometimes resulting in a condition informally known as brain fatigue.
With brain fatigue, you are easily distracted, forgetful and mentally flighty — or, in other words, me.
But an innovative new study from Scotland suggests that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park.
The idea that visiting green spaces like parks or tree-filled plazas lessens stress and improves concentration is not new. Researchers have long theorized that green spaces are calming, requiring less of our so-called directed mental attention than busy, urban streets do. Instead, natural settings invoke “soft fascination,” a beguiling term for quiet contemplation, during which directed attention is barely called upon and the brain can reset those overstretched resources and reduce mental fatigue.
But this theory, while agreeable, has been difficult to put to the test. Previous studies have found that people who live near trees and parks have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their saliva than those who live primarily amid concrete, and that children with attention deficits tend to concentrate and perform better on cognitive tests after walking through parks or arboretums. More directly, scientists have brought volunteers into a lab, attached electrodes to their heads and shown them photographs of natural or urban scenes, and found that the brain wave readouts show that the volunteers are more calm and meditative when they view the natural scenes.
But it had not been possible to study the brains of people while they were actually outside, moving through the city and the parks. Or it wasn’t, until the recent development of a lightweight, portable version of the electroencephalogram, a technology that studies brain wave patterns.
For the new study, published this month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh attached these new, portable EEGs to the scalps of 12 healthy young adults. The electrodes, hidden unobtrusively beneath an ordinary looking fabric cap, sent brain wave readings wirelessly to a laptop carried in a backpack by each volunteer.
The researchers, who had been studying the cognitive impacts of green spaces for some time, then sent each volunteer out on a short walk of about a mile and half that wound through three different sections of Edinburgh.
The first half mile or so took walkers through an older, historic shopping district, with fine, old buildings and plenty of pedestrians on the sidewalk, but only light vehicle traffic.
The walkers then moved onto a path that led through a park-like setting for another half mile.
Finally, they ended their walk strolling through a busy, commercial district, with heavy automobile traffic and concrete buildings.
The walkers had been told to move at their own speed, not to rush or dawdle. Most finished the walk in about 25 minutes.
Throughout that time, the portable EEGs on their heads continued to feed information about brain wave patterns to the laptops they carried.
Afterward, the researchers compared the read-outs, looking for wave patterns that they felt were related to measures of frustration, directed attention (which they called “engagement”), mental arousal and meditativeness or calm.
What they found confirmed the idea that green spaces lessen brain fatigue.
When the volunteers made their way through the urbanized, busy areas, particularly the heavily trafficked commercial district at the end of their walk, their brain wave patterns consistently showed that they were more aroused, attentive and frustrated than when they walked through the parkland, where brain-wave readings became more meditative.
While traveling through the park, the walkers were mentally quieter.
Which is not to say that they weren’t paying attention, said Jenny Roe, a professor in the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University, who oversaw the study. “Natural environments still engage” the brain, she said, but the attention demanded “is effortless. It’s called involuntary attention in psychology. It holds our attention while at the same time allowing scope for reflection,” and providing a palliative to the nonstop attentional demands of typical, city streets.
Of course, her study was small, more of a pilot study of the nifty new, portable EEG technology than a definitive examination of the cognitive effects of seeing green.
But even so, she said, the findings were consistent and strong and, from the viewpoint of those of us over-engaged in attention-hogging urban lives, valuable. The study suggests that, right about now, you should consider “taking a break from work,” Dr. Roe said, and “going for a walk in a green space or just sitting, or even viewing green spaces from your office window.” This is not unproductive lollygagging, Dr. Roe helpfully assured us. “It is likely to have a restorative effect and help with attention fatigue and stress recovery.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

It seems like a lot of people now-a-days are not getting enough sleep. I find myself not getting enough sleep because of school and work. I learned in my anatomy class that when the body is stressed it releases cortisol, which is a stress hormone and when a person is stressed they store that hormone in the abdomen region. Therefore, people who don't get a good night's sleep may be prone to stress and which will lead to weight gain. I know Dr. Oz recommended Guna Sleep, and it seems like a lot of our customers have bought/tried it. I believe sleep is so wonderful, but it is always hard to get adequate restful sleep. 

The best path to a healthy weight may be a good night’s sleep.
For years researchers have known that adults who sleep less than five or six hours a night are at higher risk of being overweight. Among children, sleeping less than 10 hours a night is associated with weight gain.
Now a fascinating new study suggests that the link may be even more insidious than previously thought. Losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain.
Sleep researchers from the University of Colorado recruited 16 healthy men and women for a two-week experiment tracking sleep, metabolism and eating habits. Nothing was left to chance: the subjects stayed in a special room that allowed researchers to track their metabolism by measuring the amount of oxygen they used and carbon dioxide they produced. Every bite of food was recorded, and strict sleep schedules were imposed.
The goal was to determine how inadequate sleep over just one week — similar to what might occur when students cram for exams or when office workers stay up late to meet a looming deadline — affects a person’s weight, behavior and physiology.
During the first week of the study, half the people were allowed to sleep nine hours a night while the other half stayed up until about midnight and then could sleep up to five hours. Everyone was given unlimited access to food. In the second week, the nine-hour sleepers were then restricted to five hours of sleep a night, while the sleep-deprived participants were allowed an extra four hours.
Notably, the researchers found that staying up late and getting just five hours of sleep increased a person’s metabolism. Sleep-deprived participants actually burned an extra 111 calories a day, according to the findings published last week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
But even though we burn more calories when we stay awake, losing sleep is not a good way to lose weight. The light sleepers ended up eating far more than those who got nine hours of sleep, and by the end of the first week the sleep-deprived subjects had gained an average of about two pounds.
During the second week, members of the group that had originally slept nine hours also gained weight when they were restricted to just five hours. And the other group began to lose some (but not all) of the weight gained in that first sleep-deprived week.
Kenneth Wrightdirector of the university’s sleep and chronobiology laboratory, said part of the change was behavioral. Staying up late and skimping on sleep led to not only more eating, but a shift in the type of foods a person consumed.
“We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep they overatecarbohydrates,” he said. “They ate more food, and when they ate food also changed. They ate a smaller breakfast and they ate a lot more after dinner.”
In fact, sleep-deprived eaters ended up eating more calories during after-dinner snacking than in any other meal during the day. Over all, people consumed 6 percent more calories when they got too little sleep. Once they started sleeping more, they began eating more healthfully, consuming fewer carbohydrates and fats. Dr. Wright noted that the effect of sleep deprivation on weight would likely be similar in the real world although it might not be as pronounced as in the controlled environment. The researchers found that insufficient sleep changed the timing of a person’s internal clock, and that in turn appeared to influence the changes in eating habits. “They were awake three hours before their internal nighttime had ended,” Dr. Wright said. “Being awakened during their biological night is probably why they ate smaller breakfasts.”
The effect was similar to the jet lag that occurs when a person travels from California to New York.
Last fall, The Annals of Internal Medicine reported on a study by University of Chicago researchers, who found that lack of sleep alters the biology of fat cells. In the small study — just seven healthy volunteers — the researchers tracked the changes that occurred when subjects moved from 8.5 hours of sleep to just 4.5 hours. After four nights of less sleep, their fat cells were less sensitive to insulin, a metabolic change associated with both diabetes and obesity.
“Metabolically, lack of sleep aged fat cells about 20 years,” said Matthew Brady, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and the senior author on the study.
“These subjects were in their low 20s but it’s as if they were now middle-aged in terms of their response. We were surprised how profound the effects were.”
Both Drs. Wright and Brady noted that because their studies lasted only days, it was not clear how long-term sleep deprivation affects weight, and whether the body adjusts to less sleep.
Dr. Brady said that while better sleep would not solve the obesity problem, paying more attention to sleep habits could help individuals better manage their weight.
In the future he hopes to study whether a focus on better sleep could improve the health of people in middle age who are overweight or prediabetic.
“Telling someone they need to sleep more as a way to improve their metabolic health, we think would be more palatable,” said Dr. Brady. “We think sleep is very underappreciated.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Runners won't fade but colors will run

Take your pick next weekend: a 26.2-mile sweat-slicked slog or a 3.1-mile jog in which you are likely to get blasted with powders in all the colors of the rainbow.
Guess which one is called the Graffiti Run?
"Most people, when they do their first 5K, it's daunting. We're really nonjudgmental," says Nadia Madesan, the run coordinator. "Our run is really friendly to everyone."
The website ( says, "So feel free to run, walk, dance, crawl, roll, piggyback ride or somersault your way through the color madness."
The run was inspired by Holi, the Hindu springtime festival of colors.
"You get doused with color. It's photogenic. Kids love it," Madesan said.
The organization holds other running events too. Its first Graffiti Run drew 4,000 runners in Houston in December. And there are similar runs, including Color Me Rad, which has a June race planned in Los Angeles.
The March 16 run is at the L.A. Fairplex in Pomona; same-day registration is allowed if the event doesn't fill up.
After the run, there's a party with music and color packets that create big colorful clouds when tossed. The colored powder is a nontoxic, non-rash-inducing cornstarch-based product, the organizers said.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cardio burns more fat than weight lifting

I am a firm believer that Cardio does burn more fat than weight lifting. I think the grueling exercise from Cardio burns for fat than the exercise from weight lifting. Cardio gets your heart pumping really fast and you begin to sweat a lot, which will help you lose fat. I believe weight lifting is for those who want to gain muscle and not necessarily want to lose weight. I think the best bet is to have a combination of a cardio workout and lifting weights. 

December 17th, 2012 12:33 PM ET
If you want to burn fat and lose weight, aerobic exercise may be your best workout option, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
It was more effective than a weight-lifting routine, and about as beneficial as workouts combining cardio and strength training, researchers found.
"If a person is going to give me three hours of exercise a week,the most effective way to lose fat is to spend that time doing aerobic training," says lead study author Leslie Willis, an exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
If you lift weights, this doesn't mean you should stop, but if your time is limited and your main goal from exercise is to lose weight, cardio may be better than weight training, according to Willis.
The study
Because people often short-change exercise, the scientists wanted to find out what type of routine would provide overweight people the most efficient workout for weight loss. For eight months, more than 200 middle-aged adults were assigned to one of three exercise programs.
The first group did aerobic training for 133 minutes a week. This averaged out to three 45-minute sessions, with most people choosing to work out on treadmill or elliptical machines. Those in the second group spent the same amount of time getting fit, but lifted weights instead of doing cardio. The others did both types of exercise, which took twice as long. The adults in the study were all overweight or obese, about 50 years of age, and did not have diabetes.
The results
The scientists found that routines that included only weight lifting built muscle, but did not help people lose fat or shed pounds.
Willis said this surprised some experts who say increasing muscle mass helps us burn more calories by increasing our metabolism. Unlike fat, it takes a certain amount of energy to simply maintain muscle. But the Duke researchers say the calories burned from having more muscle were not enough to make a difference when it comes to weight loss.
The researchers also found that cardio workouts proved to be as beneficial for losing fat and weight and required only half the time commitment as the combination workouts.
"They (the combination aerobic/weight training group) did lose more weight around the middle, but it was not statistically significant," says Willis. "We're a little bit unclear as to why that is, but we would say that time-wise, it was not that much more beneficial to do double that work and not get that much more benefit."
Workout advice
But Willis and other experts agree strength training shouldn’t be discounted when it comes to overall health. Lifting weights helps build and maintain strong bones and helps prevent the gradual loss of muscle that comes with aging.
Weight training may not be the best way to take the weight off initially, it does help adults keep it off, says Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist and CNN's diet and fitness expert. And though having added muscle may not burn as many calories as once thought, it does pay off over time.
“If you are short on time and are not dieting, cardio is better for weight loss in the short-term, but we don’t know in the long-term. And in my opinion, to maintain weight loss and achieve optimal health, strength training is still very important,” explains Jampolis.
But some have to get the weight off first before we can then turn their attention to keeping it off, Willis says. And if there’s only time for one type of workout, cardio may be the best choice.
“The point here is that the general public who comes to us to exercise almost unanimously has one main goal, and that is to lose weight and fat," Willis says. "And we’re just not seeing that resistance training would be the most efficient way to do that."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Who knew that video games could actually train/helps surgeons become better at their practice? I found this article extremely interesting! I believe certain video games are very helpful with hand-eye coordination and it also helps the brain to react more quickly. Playing video games when I was younger has definitely helped me in certain ways. I think this is one of the revolutionary ways we can use the Nintendo Wii. Also, I think in the future there will be a lot of video games that will help with people in the medical field to help them become better doctors, surgeons  nurses, etc.

When you’re playing Nintendo you may be learning more than how to control a voracious gorilla, rescue a kidnapped princess or negotiate a go-cart course, according to a new study.
You just may be learning skills to help you perform laparoscopic surgery.
In a study posted online Wednesday in the open access journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the department of surgical sciences at the University of Rome measured the surgical skills of students who trained on a Nintendo Wii.
Across four tasks measuring 16 skill-sets on a simulator, such as locating objects with a camera and photographing them, and touching flashing, colored balls with its corresponding tool, Wii team outshone their traditionally trained colleagues in 13 of them. Dr. Mario indeed!
“Laparoscopic simulators represent a satisfactory response to this request but their high costs have limited their spread,” the study authors wrote. “Video-games may be a cheap and widely available product, helping to develop cognitive skills that, apparently, can be transferred in improved surgical performance.”
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal requires surgeons to remotely operate tools inside the patient’s abdomen, including a fiber-optic camera. Using a surgery simulator, students were graded in four tasks involving camera movement, locating objects, moving objects and completing the procedure.
According to this new study, the students who played on the Wii showed greater efficiency and accuracy in handling surgical tools. The study involved 42 first- and second-year graduates studying general, vascular and endoscopic surgery. Half the group was trained on regular simulators and the other half spent one hour a day, five days a week for four weeks playing on a Wii.
The Nintendo team played Wii Sports Tennis for its required hand-eye coordination, focus, flexibility and 3-D visualization. Wii Table Tennis required more precise management of the controller, and Wii Battle, an air-combat game, requires precise movements and 3-D visualization.
Studies show that early trainees struggle adjusting to make three-dimensional movements on a two-dimension screen. The Wii helped drastically improve that, researchers found.
Wii players improved their ability to simultaneously operate two instruments and manipulate objects more than 80% better compared to the control group’s 20%. Cauterizing efficiency improved 42% for players compared to 11% for the rest, and camera accuracy for players improved 83% to 10% for students trained on a traditional surgical simulator.
Previous studies have measured the effects of gaming for prospective surgeons, but none have used so many students and tested so many skill-sets, researchers wrote.
“We hope this may be a trigger to develop dedicated software aimed to help young surgeons as the economic impact of these consoles is significantly lower than traditional laparoscopic simulators and they provide a basic didactic value,” the authors wrote. “The Nintendo Wii may be adopted in lower-budget institutions or at home by younger surgeons to optimize their training on simulators before performing real procedures.”