Hopefully you are already a happy and joyful person. Life can certainly place challenges to happiness and sometimes we consider advanced age to be anything but happy. However, a new study based on a telephone survey of 340,000 people nationwide between age 18 and 85 found that we tend to get happier as we get older!
The survey asked about global well being by asking each person to rate overall life satisfaction between one and ten. Results published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people were quite satisfied with themselves by the time they were 85 especially when compared to when they were 18. The tendency to rate happiness lower in the 20s and 30s began to reverse in the 50s.
Emotions of stress, anger, and worry decline beginning in the 20s and more significantly in the 50s onward. Sadness rises to a peak at 50 then declines to 73 and rises again slightly to 85. Enjoyment and happiness both decrease gradually until our 50s then rise steadily for the next 25 years and decline again, but not as much as the low point in our early 50s.
The study did not try to understand what makes people happy, but there is a relationship between getting older and happiness. Not bad!
With warm weather and the summer season upon us it is a good time to consider all the benefits this sunny season provides for brain health:
1. Increased exposure to the sun comes with Vitamin D which is good for the body and brain.
2. We can increase our mobility by getting outside to walk, play, swim, and run.
3. Socialization can increase as more people commune to the outdoors.
4. Exercise routines can become more routine and more diverse.
5. We can enjoy nature and slow our world down thereby decreasing stress.
6. We can increase our water consumption and reduce calories.
7. Our moods can get a bit happier with blue sky.
8. We may sleep better with increased physical activity.
9. We can garden and do chores in the yard.
10. We may be able to spend more time with the family.
So have fun this summer and enjoy all the brain benefits.
A recent survey of children’s utilization of mass media technology, cell phone, computers and television indicates the amount of time allocated to these devices has increased to over 7 hours daily. This does not include time multitasking when children will use more than one device at a time.
Research on behavioral correlates of such behavior is not conclusive, but there are studies that suggest a relationship between obesity, behavioral issues, and even some problems with interpersonal skills and time spent engaged in such pursuits.
The major question is what effect will increased time spent using digital media activity have on the behavior and brains of children over time. Research does indicate a relationship between passive pursuits and dementia later in life. Research also indicates too much stimulation can retard brain development. These represent the critical questions to be explored and answered in the near future. More studies are being done and are needed to determine what the short term and long term effects are on children.
It is important to remain open minded yet critical about both the negative and positive effects of children using and relying on the cell phone and other devices to socialize, interact, and stimulate mentally. The evolution of such technology has already found the youth of the world and they are more reliant and comfortable with it than previous generations. This evolution cannot be stopped and it probably should not. It is important for society to integrate this new way of living in healthy ways.
A recent article in US News discussed the brain health of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the United States. An index that was comprised of diet (36%), physical health (25%), mental health (24%), and social well being (15%) was used to compare the states. Data was gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Results from the study revealed the following top ten brainiest cities:
1. Washington DC
3. Washington State
8. New Jersey
10. New Hampshire
It is important to be proactive in your brain health lifestyle. Dr. Nussbaum (www.paulnussbaum.com), Chief Scientific Officer for Fitbrains, Inc. underscores the importance of a brain health lifestyle that includes socialization, nutrition, physical activity, mental stimulation, and spirituality.
A recent study demonstrates daily surfing of the internet activates the brain of older persons. This is another example of how the environment in many forms can shape the brain and illustrates the power of neural plasticity.
24 neurologically healthy adults, aged 55 to 78, surfed the internet while their brains were being scanned by an MRI machine. Prior to the study, half the participants had used the internet daily while the other half had minimal experience. After the initial MRI scan, the participants were instructed to do internet searches for an hour a day for seven days in the next two weeks. Then they returned to the clinic for another MRI.
At baseline, those who had internet experience had much greater brain activation relative to those without internet experience. However, those who practiced on the internet during the study demonstrated significant activation in their brain to the point that they were nearly equal to the brains of the experienced internet users.
The idea of “use it or lose it” can really be taken a step further and the idea is to “use it in new ways” and novelty and complexity really is the foundation to brain health.
A bowl of whole-grain cereal is as good as a sports drink for recovery after exercise. Research has shown that the readily available and relatively inexpensive breakfast food is as effective as popular, carbohydrate-based “sports drinks.”
Exercise physiologist Lynne Kammer, from The University of Texas at Austin, led a group of researchers who investigated the post-exercise physiological effects of the foods. Kammer and her team studied 12 trained cyclists, 8 male and 4 female. In contrast to many sports nutrition studies, however, the exercise protocol was designed to reflect a typical exercise session. After a warm-up period, the subjects cycled for two hours at a comfortable work rate, rather than the more frequently seen test-to-exhaustion
To read more from the study, click here
- To reduce unhealthy stress levels, take up yoga, meditate, laugh, exercise, or care for a pet.
- The easiest way to challenge your brain is to choose a “word of the day” and then work the word into a conversation. Improving vocabulary is a great way to challenge your brain daily.
- Ten minutes of focusing on the positive and visualizing the future each day can change the way you look at life, opening your mind to new possibilities.
- Take advantage of your natural learning booster by believing something is important. If we try to learn without feeling interested, very little of that information will be saved in our memories. When we tell ourselves that what we’re learning is important, our brains join in, triggering our learning circuits.
- Try making a list of ten things you are thankful for – just doing this daily can make a big difference in your everyday attitude and help manage stress. There is a definite connection between healthy living and having a positive outlook on life.
Click here for more tips to encourage a Healthy Brain Lifestyle…