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Video: Exercise Can Change Your Brain

Working out boosts your mood and memory.

Watch neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki as she discusses the life-changing benefits of physical activity on the most important organ in your body--your brain! You will be inspired by watching this short, fascinating video!

PositiveTip: Take a 30 minute walk every day for your heart and brain!

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What is Good for the Heart is also Good for the Brain

It's a no-brainer: no pills, no side effects from meds. Just exercise!

Over five years of research, older adults who did not engage in moderate to high levels of exercise experienced greater declines in cognitive processing speed and memory function. This decline was the same as would have been expected with 10 years of aging instead of the 5 years that actually past in the study.

PositiveTip: Stay active as you age. It is essential for brain health!

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Genetic Symphony

Listening to classical music regularly may give you a genetic advantage.

Finnish researchers examined the effects of classical music on the brain at the molecular level on both musically experienced (48) and inexperienced (15) people. Genetic activity increased for the "feel-good" hormone dopamine, as well as genes involved in memory, learning and synaptic activity. Genes associated with neuro-degeneration were less active. Only musically experienced participants exhibited these effects. 

PositiveTip: Get "musically experienced" and regularly enjoy classical music for both genetic and mental health benefits. You can start with the Mozart concerto used by researchers. 

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Smart Napping

Cat naps may improve your memory.

German researchers have found that napping for less than an hour helps the brain consolidate newly learned information. Forty-one participants were tested on their memorization of individual words and word pairs. Then half were allowed to sleep and the others could watch DVD's. Immediately after the break they were tested again. The nappers essentially forgot nothing, scoring the same as before they slept. The DVD watchers remembered significantly less. 

PositiveTip: If you must process a lot of new information daily (students!) consider napping. At minimum ensure you sleep 8-10 hours each night. 

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Boost Learning Through Reflection

Quietly reflecting on newly learned information strengthens memories.

Neuroscience and psychology researchers asked study participants to complete two memory tasks. Between tasks, they could rest and think about whatever they wanted. Brain scans showed those who mentally reviewed what they’d learned previously did better on the second task, specifically of similar content. Researchers hypothesize that the reflection time strengthened the new memories and primed the brain to add to its new memories.

PositiveTip: Take a few minutes each day to reflect on new experiences or knowledge; you'll enhance your memory and learning capacity.

Smoking Makes You Foolish

Most people know that it is foolish to smoke cigarettes. Smoking causes heart attacks, emphysema, and several kinds of cancer. Now it is known that smoking also makes you stupid.

Studies in the past have indicated that smoking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and dementia caused by small strokes. Now, a new study on the effects of smoking on mental decline has revealed the effects of smoking on the brain.

This study enrolled 5099 men and 2137 women who were employees of the British Civil Service in London, England. The average age at the beginning of the study was 56. The number of cigarettes smoked was recorded over the 10 years of the study. 

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Physical Activity Improves Attention and Memory in Children

Physical activity improves attention and memory in children.

Healthy, but less physically fit pre-adolescent children appear to have more difficulty in executive control and relational memory processes. These functions include the ability to selectively focus attention or change focus when needed and to remember facts or objects that have been recently shown.

PositiveTip:  Exercise is good for all ages, and is especially critical for school-age children and adolescents.

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Brain Benefits of Exercise Keep Rolling In

Endurance exercise prevented premature death in mice bred for premature aging.

Five months of forced endurance exercise for 45 minutes three times a week, in mice that were bred for accelerated aging, resulted in fewer biomarkers of aging compared to both normal mice and sedentary mice that had the same mutation. Exercise prevented premature death.

PostiveTip: Physical activity decreases the biomarkers for dementia and increases gray-matter volume in the brain.

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Physical Activity Can Reverse Brain Loss in Elderly

Physical activity can preserve memory in the brains of the elderly.

A group of 120 older adults were randomly assigned between two groups: the first group had three moderate aerobic workouts a week, and the second group only stretched for the same amount of time. MRI imaging and memory tests were done at the beginning, after 6 months and after 1 year. Those who only stretched showed a 1.4% decline in brain volume (the hippocampus), while the brain volume of those who moderately exercised actually increased more than 2%. Both groups had memory improvement, but the group doing aerobic exercise showed more.

PositiveTip: Moderate aerobic exercise is a pretty cheap and easy-to-implement intervention to preserve brain function.

Children’s Media Use and Sleep Problems

Dazed boy playing a video game.The following information comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation website in a report called Children’s Media Use and Sleep Problems: Issues and Unanswered Questions.

Research shows that poor sleep causes a wide variety of problems among children. Many of the issues faced by parents and pediatricians -- from obesity to aggression to hyperactivity -- are caused or increased by inadequate sleep.

A lot of people don't know that while the body rests, the brain does not. The first system to suffer from poor sleep is the brain's ability to organize activities and pay attention. These are referred to as executive functions.