Keys to a long and healthy life…


Here’s what I learned today about keys to a long life:
Be social. Loneliness kills.
Smile often. Grumpiness hurts yourself most.
Be moderate. Don’t go to extreme.
Get a higher education,
Be friend with healthy people. You tend to gain weight when you are with fat ones.
Don’t sit for long,
Cultivate hobbies,
Be a good person, which is a reward in itself.
Be a great neighbor. Kindness to others comes back to benefit you more than you give to others.
Be positive in life.

Now we know better.



Exercise and the Quality of your Life


I will not let go anything from Harvard Medical School, even if I have read it many times. Here’s one on exercise and the quality of your life.

“Exercise not only helps you live longer — it helps you live better. In addition to making your heart and muscles stronger and fending off a host of diseases, it can also improve your mental and emotional functioning and even bolster your productivity. Exercise can improve your quality of life.

1. Wards off depression: While a few laps around the block can’t solve serious emotional difficulties, researchers know there is a strong link between regular exercise and improved mood. Aerobic exercise prompts the release of mood-lifting hormones, which relieve stress and promote a sense of well-being. In addition, the rhythmic muscle contractions that take place in almost all types of exercise can increase levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which combats negative feelings.

2. Sharpens wits: Physical activity boosts blood flow to the brain, which may help maintain brain function. It also promotes good lung function, a characteristic of people whose memories and mental acuity remain strong as they age. While all types of physical activity help keep your mind sharp, many studies have shown that aerobic exercise, in particular, successfully improves cognitive function.

3. Improves sleep: Regular aerobic exercise provides three important sleep benefits: it helps you fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less during the night. In fact, exercise is the only known way for healthy adults to boost the amount of deep sleep they get — and deep sleep is essential for your body to renew and repair itself.

4. Protects mobility and vitality: Regular exercise can slow the natural decline in physical performance that occurs as you age. By staying active, older adults can actually keep their cardiovascular fitness, metabolism, and muscle function in line with those of much younger people. And many studies have shown that people who were more active at midlife were able to preserve their mobility — and therefore, their independence — as they aged.



Healthy lifestyle helps you stay young even under stress


This is from medpage today, “Healthy Behaviors May Help Stressed Cells Stay Young”
8/2/2014

“In healthy women followed for over 1 year, accumulation of major life stressors predicted telomere attrition. Women who maintained relatively higher levels of health behaviors appeared to be protected when exposed to stress.

Major life stressors appear to be associated with significant acceleration of cellular aging over a relatively short period of time, but engaging in healthy behaviors such as eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep may mitigate that effect, a study showed.

While telomere length did not change drastically over the course of the year in the majority of women, there was still a significant amount of change and that change was predicted by life stressors and modifiable healthy behaviors.

The findings support the idea that stressful events can quickly lead to acceleration of immune cell aging in adults and that healthy behaviors can protect cells from this assault, Puterman said.

“In our sample of participants who were eating well, sleeping well, and exercising regularly over the course of the year, the amount of stress they experienced did not seem to impact telomere length,” he told MedPage Today.”



Two keys to sharp brain in old age


Here’s a free advice from Harvard Medical School newsletter. Trust me, such freebies are getting less and less. Enjoy!

“Two ways to stay mentally sharp
Regular physical activity helps keep your heart, lungs, and muscles in shape and can stave off the effects of aging. In much the same way, exercising your brain can help keep your mind sharp and your memory intact. Here are two ways to activate your brain.

Keep busy and engaged
The MacArthur Foundation Study on Successful Aging, a long-term study of aging in America, found that education level was the strongest predictor of mental capacity as people aged. The more education, the more likely an individual was to maintain his or her memory and thinking skills. Other research has shown that people who held jobs that involved complex work, such as speaking to, instructing, or negotiating with others, had a lower risk of memory loss (dementia) than people whose jobs were less intellectually demanding.

It probably isn’t the years of formal education or the type of occupation itself that benefits memory. Intellectual enrichment and learning stimulate the brain to make more connections. The more connections, the more resilient the brain. That’s how a habit of learning and engaging in mentally challenging activities — like learning a new language or craft — can help keep the brain in shape.

Stay connected
Establishing and maintaining close ties with others is another way to maintain mental skills and memory. There are several ways that social engagement may do this. Social interaction and mentally engaging activities often go hand in hand (think volunteering or tutoring schoolkids). Social relationships can also provide support during stressful times, reducing the damaging effects that stress can have on the brain.

Social support can come from relationships with family members, friends, relatives, or caregivers, as well as from a religious community or other organized group.

Meaningful, socially engaging activities may prove especially helpful. In a study conducted with the Baltimore Experience Corps, volunteers were assigned to either a waitlist (control group) or a group that helped elementary school children during class and library time. Early results suggested that participants who remained engaged in the program for many months improved their executive function and memory.”



Great advice to both seniors and non-senior


write to my 70 self
Write to 70-year-old me,” this was written by someone who is not 70 years old yet.
1. Don’t desire for material possession
2. No more endless nagging
3. Don’t live on your past memory
4. Don’t be opinionated
5. Don’t be complaining
6. Don’t regret
7. Do what you want



Tips on safe strength training


Harvard Medical School often sends emails for me to buy their articles. On rare occasions, they give away something free, like this one –“seven tips can keep your strength training safe and effective.” Here are the tips which I’d like to share with my readers.

1. Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an excellent way to cool down.

2. Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group.

3. Working at the right tempo helps you stay in control rather than compromise strength gains through momentum. For example, count to three while lowering a weight, hold, then count to three while raising it to the starting position.

4. Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release.

5. Keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete all the reps, add weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs), or add another set of repetitions to your workout (up to three sets). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.

6. Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
7. Give muscles time off. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important: muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training session.



4 exercises to fight arthritis


I post it here not that I have arthritis, but I thought it might be of some help to those who have or in case I will have it later. Once again, it is from Harvard healthbeat newsletter.

“… regular exercise not only helps maintain joint function, it also relieves stiffness and reduces pain and fatigue.”

(1) A better range of motion (improved joint mobility and flexibility). To increase your range of motion, move a joint as far as it can go and then try to push a little farther. These exercises can be done any time, even when your joints are painful or swollen, as long as you do them gently.

(2) Stronger muscles (through resistance training). Fancy equipment isn’t needed. You can use your own body weight as resistance to build muscles. For example, the simple exercise described below can help ease the strain on your knees by strengthening your thigh muscles. Sit in a chair. Now lean forward and stand by pushing up with your thigh muscles (use your arms for balance only). Stand a moment, then sit back down, using your thigh muscles.

(3) Better endurance. Aerobic exercise — such as walking, swimming, and bicycling — strengthens your heart and lungs and thereby increases endurance and overall health. Stick to activities that don’t jar your joints, and avoid high impact activities such as jogging. If you’re having a flare-up of symptoms, wait until it subsides before doing endurance exercise.

(4) Better balance. There are simple ways to work on balance. For example, stand with your weight on both feet. Then try lifting one foot while you balance on the other foot for 5 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Over time, work your way up to 30 seconds. Yoga and tai chi are also good for balance.



Strength train, key to live longer and better


Again, from Harvard newsletter comes this article, “Want to live longer and better? Strength train.”

Regular physical activity promotes general good health, reduces the risk of developing many diseases, and helps you live a longer and healthier life. For many of us, “exercise” means walking, jogging, treadmill work, or other activities that get the heart pumping.

But often overlooked is the value of strength-building exercises. Once you reach your 50s and beyond, strength (or resistance) training is critical to preserving the ability to perform the most ordinary activities of daily living — and to maintain an active and independent lifestyle.

The average 30-year-old will lose about a quarter of his or her muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90. “Just doing aerobic exercise is not adequate,” says Dr. Robert Schreiber, physician-in-chief at Hebrew SeniorLife and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Unless you are doing strength training, you will become weaker and less functional.”

Strength training encompasses any of the following:
Free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells
Ankle cuffs and vests containing different amounts of weight
Resistance (elastic) bands of varying length and tension that you flex using your arms and legs
Exercises that use your body weight to create resistance against gravity.



Simple items can help you strengthen your core


From Harvard HEALTHbeat newsletter, “The right stuff: These simple items can help you strengthen your core,” March 29, 2014

“You needn’t spend a cent on fancy equipment to get a good workout. A standing core workout and floor core workout rely on body weight alone. With the help of some simple equipment, you can diversify and ramp up your workouts. To start, consider buying only what you need for the specific workout you’d like to do. If you have a gym membership, use the facility’s equipment. Here is a description of all of the equipment used in the six workouts designed by Harvard experts and found our report, Core Exercises.

Chair. Choose a sturdy chair that won’t tip over easily. A plain wooden dining chair without arms or heavy padding works well.

Mat. Use a nonslip, well-padded mat. Yoga mats are readily available. A thick carpet or towels will do in a pinch.

Yoga strap. This is a non-elastic cotton or nylon strap of six feet or longer that helps you position your body properly during certain stretches, or while doing the easier variation of a stretch. Choose a strap with a D-ring or buckle fastener on one end. This allows you to put a loop around a foot or leg and then grasp the other end of the strap.

Medicine balls. Similar in size to a soccer ball or basketball, medicine balls come in different weights. Some have a handle on top. A 4-pound to 6-pound medicine ball is a good start for most people.

Bosu. A Bosu Balance Trainer is essentially half a stability ball mounted on a heavy rubber platform that holds the ball firmly in place.



More advice to senior citizens


Advice to senior citizens
Seven things seniors should be aware of
(1) Do not be greedy
(2) Do not nag
(3) Do not live in the memory of the past
(4) Do not be opinionated
(5) Do not complain
(6) Do not regret
(7) Do what you want to do regardless of what others think



Six longevity factors for senior citizens


Longevity factors
Six factors are said to have key impacts on human longevity
(1) human relationship
(2) Personality, including these personality traits: have a positive attitude toward life and aging, out-going, optimistic, easy-going, sociable, expressive, with a strong sense of responsibility
(3) Career
(4) Healthy habits and lifestyle
(5) Stay away from unhealthy habit
(6) In company with healthy people



Healthcare, longevity, the spiritual way


On 11/13/2012, a friend of mine sent me this piece on Matsubara Yasumichi, a Japanese Buddhist master. Below is part of it. I will interpret it tomorrow.



Exercise, Calcium and Vitamin D are keys to strong bones


I learn this from Harvard Medical School newsletter. We know bone-weakening is an inevitable part of aging process. The best you can do to protect your bones is to build the highest bone density possible by your 30s and minimizing bone loss after that.

You might think it too late for you now. Well, we learn from the expert that there is still much you can do to preserve the bone you have.

(1) Daily weight-bearing exercise, like walking, is the best medicine.
(2) Getting enough calcium and vitamin D.

Calcium is an important nutrient for building bone and slowing the pace of bone loss. But too much calcium or dairy products may be unhealthy. In addition to calcium, there are other nutrients and foods that help keep your bones strong..

With age, the intestines absorb less calcium from the diet, and the kidneys seem to be less efficient at conserving calcium. As a result, your body can steal calcium from bone for a variety of important metabolic functions.

In building bone, calcium has an indispensable assistant: vitamin D. This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium, and some researchers think that increasing vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.

If possible, a small amount of sun exposure can help your body manufacture its own vitamin D — about five to 30 minutes of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. twice a week to your face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen will enable you to make enough of the vitamin.


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