Traditional Aerobic Fitness Training Trumps Pedometer-Based Walking Programs for Health Benefits: What to do: walk around the block or work up a sweat in an aerobic workout at the gym? If you're looking for the best health benefits from an exercise program, a traditional aerobic fitness program that gets your heart pumping beats a walking program hands down. But if you want to get moving, a walking program is easier to do, it's good for you, and you're more likely to stick with it.
Wild Birds Opt for Conventional Food Over Organic: The nutritional benefits of organic food have been called into question by new research which shows wild garden birds prefer conventional seed to that which has been organically- grown. "Protein is an essential nutrient in the diet of all birds and mammals and getting enough of it -- especially in winter -- can be hard. "We showed that when given free choice, wild birds opt for the conventional food over the organic, and the most likely explanation is its higher protein content. "This study is only looking at one aspect of the organic food debate -- it does not take into account the long-term health implications of using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, or the often negative environmental impact of conventional farming; for example, other work has shown that pesticides can strongly reduce availability of seeds for birds. "But it does raise questions about the nutritional benefits of organic food and what consumers are being led to believe."
Daily Ginger Consumption Eases Muscle Pain by 25 Percent: While ginger had been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects in rodents, its effect on experimentally-induced human muscle pain was largely unexplored. Two studies examined the effects of 11 days of raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on muscle pain. Participants in the studies, 34 and 40 volunteers, respectively, consumed capsules containing two grams of either raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 11 consecutive days. On the eighth day they performed 18 extensions of the elbow flexors with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Arm function, inflammation, pain and a biochemical involved in pain were assessed prior to and for three days after exercise. The studies showed that daily ginger supplementation reduced the exercise-induced pain by 25 percent, and the effect was not enhanced by heat-treating the ginger.
Getting Dirty May Lift Your Mood: Bacteria found in the soil activated a group of neurons that produce the brain chemical serotonin. Treatment of mice with a 'friendly' bacteria, normally found in the soil, altered their behavior in a way similar to that produced by antidepressant drugs. These findings aid the understanding of why an imbalance in the immune system leaves some individuals vulnerable to mood disorders like depression. "These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt."
Interest in the project arose after human cancer patients being treated with the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae unexpectedly reported increases in their quality of life.
Can Bacteria Make You Smarter? Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behavior. "Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature." Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety. "Since serotonin plays a role in learning we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice." "This research suggests that M. vaccae may play a role in anxiety and learning in mammals," says Matthews. "It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks."
Mental Health Providers Should Prescribe Exercise More Often for Depression, Anxiety: "Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health." Their findings are based on an analysis of dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews related to exercise and mental health, including the authors' meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and studies on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise. The researchers' review demonstrated the efficacy of exercise programs in reducing depression and anxiety.
"Exercise can fill the gap for people who can't receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don't want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments. Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged. Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger. Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing."
After patients have passed a health assessment, Smits says, they should work up to the public health dose, which is 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. At a time when 40 percent of Americans are sedentary, he says, mental health care providers can serve as their patients' exercise guides and motivators.
"Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program -- which can be difficult to sustain -- we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits," he says. "After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy -- and you'll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise."
Smits says health care providers who prescribe exercise also must give their patients the tools they need to succeed, such as the daily schedules, problem-solving strategies and goal-setting featured in his guide for therapists.
"Therapists can help their patients take specific, achievable steps," he says. "This isn't about working out five times a week for the next year. It's about exercising for 20 or 30 minutes and feeling better today."
Hey Jude: Get That Song out My Head! Some 98 to 99 percent of the population has, at some point, been "infected" with a song they just can't seem to shake off. It's aptly called an earworm. In most cases, earworms will disappear after a few minutes. In some cases, earworms can last hours or even days. In the laboratory, they asked 18 musicians and 18 non-musicians to hum and record their obsessive songs and note their emotional state before and after. The researchers found earworm infections last longer with musicians than with non-musicians. The phenomenon occurs when subjects are usually in a positive emotional state and keeping busy with non-intellectual activities such as walking, which requires little concentration. "Perhaps the phenomenon occurs to prevent brooding or to change moods."
I've learned that there are 2 methods for getting rid of an earworm: 1. play the tune from start to finish so that you hear the whole thing. 2. (and this is what works for me) play a complicated piece of music from start to finish.
Cross-posted from ZeNeece's World