Aerobic Fitness and Brain Health

Many studies have shown a relationship between higher levels of aerobic fitness and healthy cognitive functioning. New research suggests that a mechanism underlying this association may involve increases in gray-matter volume and total brain volume as well as specific increases in both gray and white matter in certain parts of the brain. Researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, University of Greifswald, found that evidence of high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, based on three measures—ventilatory threshold, VO2max and maximal work capacity—were consistent with findings of increased brain volume. In…

Is the Glass Half-Full?

One’s outlook and attitude on life may have a significant impact on heart health. Optimism is linked with a longer life and a lower risk of cardiovascular events, while pessimism is linked with a higher risk of heart disease. Findings are based on a meta-analysis of 15 studies with 229,391 subjects. Optimism is commonly defined as the belief that good things will happen in the future and is associated with more effective goal-setting, problem-solving and coping skills. Future studies may seek to better define the “biobehavioral mechanisms” that underpin this…

Alternate Exercise Recovery Methods

You may be used to speeding up your exercise recovery via methods such as myofascial release with foam rollers and good sleep hygiene. While these techniques are tried-and-true, the rising enthusiasm for hard-hitting exercise routines has spawned a growing interest in alternative recovery techniques. Pete McCall, MS, personal trainer, exercise physiologist and an adjunct faculty member in exercise science at both Mesa Community College and San Diego State University, outlines six options for you to consider. Six Different Recovery Techniques Cryotherapy Chamber Treatments Ice baths promote recovery by increasing circulation,…

Seeking Relief From Digital Distraction?

Trainers reading texts while clients perform reps; a member talking loudly on her phone about her party exploits the night before; someone’s phone buzzing in yoga class during deep relaxation. These examples of smartphone use in gyms and studios are all too familiar. According to a recent study reported in BMC Psychiatry, about 25% of young people use their smartphones in a way that has detrimental effects on mental health and is consistent with addictive behavior. Study author Nicola Kalk, PhD, said, “We don’t know whether it is the smartphone…

Prebiotics for Better Sleep

Prebiotics are best-known for supporting gut health, but they can also improve sleep and enhance stress resilience, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder say prebiotics—dietary fibers that nourish the gut’s microbiome—create a symbiotic relationship with the body that affects the brain. For the study, researchers fed adolescent rats either standard chow or chow infused with prebiotics, then tracked the rats’ behavior. Those on the prebiotic diet spent more time in restorative non–rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep and, after stress, spent more time in…

Yoga Boosts Brain Fitness

Practicing yoga benefits both brain structure and function by increasing grey matter in brain regions responsible for memory recall and emotion regulation, according to research findings published in Brain Plasticity (2019; doi:10.3233/BPL-190084). Researchers at the University of Illinois and Wayne State University reviewed 11 studies that examined the effects of yoga on brain structures, function and cerebral blood flow. “We identified some brain regions that consistently come up, and they are surprisingly not very different from what we see with exercise research,” said lead study author Neha Gothe, PhD, director of…