Sunday, April 20, 2014
6 WAYS EXERCISE MAKES YOUR BRAIN BETTER (READER'S DIGEST)
6 Ways Exercise Makes Your Brain Better
Movement is medicine for the mind: Here’s how your mental muscle benefits every time you get going.
from A Sharp Brain for Life (Reader’s Digest Association Books)
1. It spurs brain growth
As we get older, the birth of new brain cells slows, and our brain tissue actually shrinks. Exercise may be able to reverse that trend. One brain-scanning study of healthy but sedentary people aged 60 to 79 showed significant increases in brain volume after six months of aerobic fitness training. No such changes occurred among controls who only did stretching and toning exercises. The researchers concluded that the improved cardiovascular fitness that comes with aerobic exercise is associated with fewer age-related changes in the brains of older people. Cardio boosts blood flow to the brain, which delivers much-needed oxygen (the brain soaks up 20 percent of all the oxygen in your body).
2. It boosts brain-building hormones
Much like plant food makes plants grow faster and lusher, the chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, stimulates the growth and proliferation of brain cells. This is especially true in the hippocampus, the brain region that is largely responsible for memory and which is particularly vulnerable to age-related decline. The more you exercise, the more BDNF you produce.
3. It fights depression and anxiety
Depression slows the brain’s ability to process information, makes it more difficult for us to concentrate and reach decisions, and causes real memory problems. For serious depression, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants. For milder cases, exercise may help lift your mood. It cranks up the body’s production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals crucial to happy mood. And it boosts levels of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
4. It reduces the effects of stress
If some hormones like BDNF make the brain younger, others help age it. These include the so-called stress hormone cortisol. Slow, scattered thinking and forgetfulness are caused by stress more often than we may realize. Exercise lowers cortisol levels, helping you to think straight again. It is also believed to help generate new nerve cells in the area of the brain called the dentate gyrus, an area of the hippocampus linked to the creation of new memories. Brain cells here are depleted during times of stress.
5. It improves your brain’s executive function
Executive function basically means cognitive abilities like being able to focus on complex tasks, to organize, to think abstractly, and to plan for future events. It also encompasses working memory, such as the ability to keep a phone number in your head while you dial. When researchers set out to analyze the effects of exercise on executive function, they looked at 18 well-designed studies and found that adults aged 55 to 80 who did regular exercise performed four times better on cognitive tests than control groups who didn't work out. Effects were greatest among those who exercised 30 to 45 minutes each session for longer than six months, but substantial benefits were seen in as few as four weeks of exercise.
6. It increases sensitivity to insulin
When you eat, your body turns most of the food into glucose, or blood sugar, the main source of fuel for the body, including the brain. In order for that glucose to enter cells, it must be accompanied by the hormone insulin. Unfortunately, in some people, cells become resistant to insulin. The body then has to pump out more and more of it, and still blood sugar levels rise, often resulting in type 2 diabetes. And even if you don’t develop type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is bad for your brain. When brain cells are flooded by glucose, it can adversely affect memory and thinking.
Regular exercise, however, can reverse insulin resistance. In fact, your insulin sensitivity increases, stabilizing your blood sugar after you eat—for at least 16 hours after a single exercise session. The better your blood-sugar control, the more protected you are against age-related cognitive decline.
Reader's Digest Magazine Online
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
CHRISTIAN WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS
CHRISTIAN WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS
August 5, 2013 at 6:49am
An Angel says, "Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice."
2. Go to bed on time.
3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.
10. Take one day at a time.
11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.
12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.
13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.
16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.
17. Get enough rest.
18. Eat right.
19. Get organized so everything has its place.
20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.
21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
22. Every day, find time to be alone.
23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.
24. Make friends with Godly people.
25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good "Thank you Jesus."
28. Laugh some more!
29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
32. Sit on your ego.
33. Talk less; listen more.
34. Slow down.
35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
36 . Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before.
GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
Saturday, April 12, 2014
STUDY SMARTER AND BETTER BY DR. WILLIE T. ONG (The Philippine Star)
Who doesn't want to get higher grades in school? Every student (or parent) wants to do better in school, but just doesn't know how. Here are the principles that have worked with many students:
• Sit close to the teacher. Studies show that those closer to the teacher or lecturer gets the most attention. Moreover, the closer you are to your teacher, the more you will be encouraged to listen to her. You’ll be able to see the blackboard better and hear the words clearer. Sit in an invisible “T” area in front of the teacher, which comprises the area in front of her and to her closest right and left sides.
• Take good notes. According to a Chinese proverb, the slightest ink on paper is better than the most retentive memory. If the teacher draws a diagram, says a key phrase, then be sure to jot this down. If your teacher tells a joke, you can also note this down because the joke can remind you about the lesson. After your class, it’s best to take a quick read of your notes, while your memory of the lesson is still fresh.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. By being participative in class, you will be emotionally invested in the day’s lesson. And since our memory is closely tied up to our emotions, this will help you remember your lesson more.
• Talk to teachers after class. If there’s something you didn't understand from the lesson, you can ask your teacher to clarify this after class. I’m sure the teacher won’t get mad and she will even appreciate your initiative.
• Eat a healthy breakfast. Studies show that students who ate breakfast received higher test score and showed better concentration and memory compared to those who skipped breakfast. They were also more alert and creative.
• Do some exercise. By getting up and moving around, you will improve the circulation of blood in your body, including your brain.
• Get enough sleep. You need at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every day so you can function well for the day. It’s a bad idea to cram and stay up late the night before the exam. Start and finish your review early so you’ll be fresh and focused when the test comes.
• Consider brain foods and vitamins. Yes, there is such a thing. You can eat an ounce of nuts a day, which are filled with good oils and can increase your brain’s serotonin levels. Oily fish, like sardines, tilapia, salmon and catfish, are filled with omega-3, which are good for the brain, too. If you want a vitamin, some studies show that taking a multivitamin, vitamin B complex or Omega-3 fish oil supplements may help your memory, too.
• Set a goal for yourself. It’s nice to have small goals for yourself. If you’re previous grade is a 75, then the next goal would be to get an 80, and so forth. Don’t aim for a 95 right away or you might get disappointed. When a student sets a goal, he is prepared to sacrifice more to reach his goal.
• Do research. For difficult topics, learn how to use the internet wisely and search for references in the library. You can also ask a relative to help you out.
• Get into a daily routine. If you study a little bit every day, then you won’t have to cram (studying on the last minute) before the exam. Write a time schedule if you like. For example, you can allot 5:30 PM to 6 PM for math, then after a 30 minute dinner break, 6:30 PM to 7 PM for science, and so on. Study early before for your exam.
• Study in a quiet place. Temporarily turn off your cell phone, iPod, internet and TV when studying. These little distractions will make it harder for you to focus. You will only end up watching the TV and forgetting your lesson. Study first, then play later.
• Choose positive friends. If you hang out with diligent students then you will surely imbibe their good habits. However, if you keep company with friends who don’t study, then your grades might suffer, too.
• Make study guides for tests. My U.P. college teacher used to tell us that the key to good learning is to have clear, concise and indexed notes. Make short bullet points or summaries of your lesson and write these down. File these notes in a folder or box, so when the time for exams come, you can readily review your notes.
• Employ memory tricks. Use mnemonics, which use the first letter of each word to be memorized. You can also use drawings and figures to help you remember.
• Group study for special cases. Before a big exam, it can sometimes be helpful to study in groups of 3 to 7 people. Everyone can study a certain lesson and take the time to share notes and teach others. Of course, there are students who study better alone. Find out what suits you best.
• During exams, learn to budget your time. If you are given an hour to finish an exam, allot 30 minutes for the first half and 30 minutes for the second half. Skip difficult questions and go back to it later. Answer the easy questions first to help boost your confidence.
• Pray. There’s no harm in praying before your exams. It’ll calm you down and give you peace of mind. Faced with a test, just do your best and leave the rest to God.
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