5 New Scientific Studies To Interest You

I wanted to share some recent studies with you. This is the most interesting research that I've found, in no particular order:

Even Small Patches of Urban Woods Are Valuable for Migrating Birds: This is good news! The more humans make progress, multiply and spread, the less wild land there is for nature. This study found that the birds in their study seemed to be able to find enough food even in a small urban habitat and continue on their journey. So at least these birds - Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), a relative of the American Robin - were somewhat flexible in their habitat needs and were able to meet their stopover requirements within urban forest patches.
~So, if you can, plant native flora and encourage your local area to have patches of naturalized habitat for nature. :)

Caffeine May Slow Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias, Restore Cognitive Function, According to New Evidence: Although caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug worldwide, its potential beneficial effect for maintenance of proper brain functioning has only recently begun to be adequately appreciated. Substantial evidence from epidemiological studies and fundamental research in animal models suggests that caffeine may be protective against the cognitive decline seen in dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Key findings presented in "Therapeutic Opportunities for Caffeine in Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases":

  • Multiple beneficial effects of caffeine to normalize brain function and prevent its degeneration

  • Caffeine's neuroprotective profile and its ability to reduce amyloid-beta production

  • Caffeine as a candidate disease-modifying agent for Alzheimer's disease

  • Positive impact of caffeine on cognition and memory performance

  • Identification of adenosine A2A receptors as the main target for neuroprotection afforded by caffeine consumption

  • Confirmation of data through valuable meta-analyses presented

  • Epidemiological studies corroborated by meta-analysis suggesting that caffeine may be protective against Parkinson's disease

  • Several methodological issues must be solved before advancing to decisive clinical trials

In the Green of Health: Just 5 Minutes of 'Green Exercise' Optimal for Good Mental Health: Just five minutes of exercise in a park, working in a backyard garden, on a nature trail, or other green space will benefit mental health. Green exercise is physical activity in the presence of nature. Abundant scientific evidence shows that activity in natural areas decreases the risk of mental illness and improves the sense of well-being.

From an analysis of 1,252 people (of different ages, genders and mental health status) drawn from ten existing studies in the United Kingdom, the authors were able to show that activity in the presence of nature led to mental and physical health improvements.

They analyzed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming. The greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally-ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All natural environments were beneficial including parks in urban settings. Green areas with water added something extra. A blue and green environment seems even better for health.

From a health policy perspective, the largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose.

Practicing Tai Chi Boosts Immune System In Older Adults: Tai chi chih, the Westernized version of the 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art characterized by slow movement and meditation, significantly boosts the immune systems of older adults against the virus that leads to the painful, blistery rash known as shingles, according to a new UCLA study. The 25-week study, which involved a group of 112 adults ranging in age from 59 to 86, showed that practicing tai chi chih alone boosted immunity to a level comparable to having received the standard vaccine against the shingles-causing varicella zoster virus. When tai chi chih was combined with the vaccine, immunity reached a level normally seen in middle age.

"These are exciting findings, because the positive results of this study also have implications for other infectious diseases, like influenza and pneumonia."

The research follows the success of an earlier pilot study that showed a positive immune response from tai chi chih.

Tai chi chih is a nonmartial form of tai chi and comprises a standardized series of 20 movements. It combines meditation, relaxation and components of aerobic exercise and is easy to learn.

~I imagine tai chi is good for young and old alike when it comes to the immune system. :)

Asking 'Why' Instead of 'How' Helps Consumers Achieve Goals of Saving Money or Losing Weight: People who become focused on how to achieve a goal may have a harder time achieving their aims than people who think abstractly about why they want to do something, according to a new study.

The authors found that when people focus on concrete aspects of how they want to achieve goals, they become more closed-minded and less likely to take advantage of opportunities that fall outside their plans. And, in contrast, people who focus on the why are more likely to consider out-of-plan opportunities to achieve their goals.

"Planning is more effective when people think abstractly, keep an open mind, and remind themselves of why they want to achieve a goal," the authors write. "This strategy is especially effective when the plan turns out to be infeasible (cheaper restaurant is too far away, gym is closed today for a holiday) or when other goal-directed activities become available (walk instead of taking a cab, eat a healthier meal)."

Cross-posted from ZeNeece.com


  1. I practive both Tai-Chi and meditation on my spare time. It is really good for general health.,;-

  2. Good for you, Sara. I try to meditate and would like to practice Tai Chi but don't really have the time right now.

  3. i would also like to learn Tai-Chi but there seems to be no practitioner in our area.-`

  4. Tai-Chi... I'm sure there are benefits and immune system boosts for practicing Tai-Chi just like other meditation forms and such, however that study is totally bogus.

  5. Why do you think the study is bogus, GMN?

  6. Same here, unfortunately. I was pretty fit when I walked and did Tai Chi.

  7. Ah, well, the foundation upon which the study was done.

    First, the range of age of the participants. Why did they do that? I suppose they wanted to make it seem like age doesn't matter, but what they did was add another uncontrolled variable into the mix that could very much distort results. The number of participants is also a little low especially for such a rather large range of ages.

    The control group. I don't exactly see how having educational classes makes a control group. Just with this, there are so many variables uncontrolled. It sounds like the participants didn't actually have to do what the classes taught... for that matter, actions outside of the study do not sound managed at all.

    This statement: "showed that practicing tai chi chih alone boosted immunity to a level comparable to having received the standard vaccine against the shingles-causing varicella zoster virus." is completely bogus as well. I've heard it a few times to, but the study does not show that (I'm unsure if the study tries to claim such). There is no group that doesn't receive the vaccine and does tai chi, so a comparison cannot be made.

    Really, I don't have a doubt that the immune system is boosted, primarily because there are many studies showing that any kind of energy art can boost the immune system. There are just a few things that displeased me about how that study seemed to be carried out.

    In fact, I think it has been an ever growing irritation to me, about how poorly controlled studies seem to be on the rise in my eyes. I feel many scientists rush through the phase where they are supposed to sit down and really analyze the variables involved, and just jump into the study.

  8. Thanks, GMN. Good points.
    I haven't had a chance to look, was this study done in China? Usually when groups or people who are already "True Believers" do a study, it comes out much more positive than if someone more objective does it.
    And yes, I agree, the immune system benefits from most types of exercise. But that doesn't mean this study is valid.