Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life’s missing white space

I'm not a designer, but I've always been in love with the design concept of white space.

It's the space in a design that isn't filled with things — as you can tell from the design of Zen Habits and my other blog, mnmlist, it's something I use (perhaps too) liberally.

But white space can be used in the design of our lives as well, not just the design of magazines and websites and ads. By using white space in our lives, we create space, balance, emphasis on what's important, and a feeling of peace that we cannot achieve with a more cramped life.

Let's look briefly at how to do this....

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aerobics for the Brain

As people age, brain function slowly declines. Aside from improving physical fitness and overall health, exercise may also help improve brain function in older adults, researchers report.

In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers evaluated brain function by performing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on 70 sedentary (but otherwise healthy) adults who were 60-80 years old. The participants were randomly divided into an aerobic walking group or a non-aerobic control group, which performed toning, stretching and strengthening exercises. Each exercise session lasted 40 minutes and was performed three times weekly for one year. The MRI scans of the older individuals were again taken after six months and one year, and compared to MRI scans of 32 healthy younger individuals (age 18-35).

No beneficial effects were observed in the aerobic group after six months of exercise. However, after one year, several improvements in brain function were noted in the aerobic exercise group.

Earlier studies suggested that impaired function in a brain circuit called the default mode network (DMN) may be a sign of aging or neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's. The DMN is active when a person is at a state of wakeful rest, such as daydreaming. In the present study, researchers found that DMN activity significantly improved in the aerobics group compared to the control group. The subjects in the aerobic group also experienced significant improvements in another brain network, the frontal parietal network, which is important for complex tasks.

By the end of the study, participants in the aerobics group experienced significant improvements in cognition, including memory and attention, compared to the control group.

While the results are promising, additional research is warranted in this area.

For more information about aerobic and non-aerobic exercise, please visit Natural Standard'sSports Medicine database.

From Natural Standard Sources

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Find stillness to cure illness

It's a busy day, and you're inundated by non-stop emails, text messages, phone calls, instant message requests, notifications, interruptions of all kinds.

The noise of the world is a dull roar that pervades every second of your life. It's a rush of activity, a drain on your energy, a pull on your attention, until you no longer have the energy to pay attention or take action.

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Heart Disease Risk Varies by Education Level

 Risk for stroke and heart disease falls as education levels rise in high-income countries, but not in nations where earnings are considerably lower, a new study shows.

The findings are published in the September 2010 issue of Circulation.

The study examined data on 61,332 people from 44 countries who had been diagnosed with heart disease, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease -- or who had cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking or obesity.