Turns out, relationships -- interactions with your family or friends -- can change your physical chemistry in ways we never imagined. There are stunning effects on your long-term physical health -- a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack, for instance. And the effects on your brain are even greater! Your risk of Alzheimer's falls dramatically with social connection. And areas of your brain that can atrophy with loneliness and depression actually show re-growth with social connection, warmth, and engagement.
Friends and family can be your most powerful resource. Meaningful engagement with your community is also important. It can be an effective substitute for closer social ties if you've let go of those kinds of connections over the years.
Take a hard look at your social connections. Examine whether or not you are as deeply and meaningfully engaged as you really want it to be. If not, take steps today to change that! With all the social media available today, you can find friends you haven't been in touch with for decades. Reach out to the people around you and gain an understanding of your community's needs. This can give you opportunities to be involved and more widely connected with others.
Make this your project for today! Reach out to people you have lost touch with. Start making plans to get together on a regular basis. Take a close look at how you can volunteer and help others. Your altruism could have a wonderful effect on your biology.View Thread
You realize it's time to change some habits, and you're wondering how to get started.
While some people can slowly and gradually take on new routines by dipping their toes in the water, this is rare when it comes to exercising -- and I don't usually recommend it. If you're not where you want to be in terms of your physical fitness, you're better off jumping into the deep end of the pool. There's a bit of a shock value to it. But once you start moving, you'll adapt quickly and feel better, faster.
Of course, before you make any major changes in the amount of physical activity you take on, talk with your doctor to be sure you're healthy enough for vigorous exercise. In fact, the moment you stop reading this blog, get on the phone and schedule that doctor's appointment. Then mark the day after as "Starting Day" on your calendar. You're never going to "find time" to exercise. You'll have to change your priorities and make time. This means you're deciding that you are actually going to get in great shape and commit to at least four days a week for exercise.
The same is true for your nutrition. I'm never a fan of formal diets. But you can make some dramatic changes by giving up starchy foods and sweets, for instance. After the first couple of weeks you really won't miss your old habits. You'll notice that your daytime energy has increased and lasts much longer than when you were on the sugar swings of a standard American diet.
The main point here is don't wait! Start getting fit today! What's stopping you?View Thread
When I was in medical school, we were taught that you got all your brain cells by the time you were two years old. And by age 30, you start to lose them. Cognitive aging was simply the slow, steady loss of brain cells that occurred as you age. Well, it turns out this was wrong! Scientists around the world have demonstrated that your brain can continue to grow throughout your life -- growing new cells, forming new connections, and rewiring existing ones. But this only happens if you use it. An idle brain will wither and decay, which leads to the decline in cognitive function that we once accepted as being part of the normal aging process.
There are two great roads to rejuvenating your brain, and they might surprise you: -Exercise. MRI studies show marked growth in new brain tissue after three months of regular exercise. This growth is not just in the parts of the brain that control movement. It's also evident in the areas responsible for memory, decision-making, and judgment.
-Social Connectedness. Your brain grows and thrives in direct proportion with the meaningful social connections you have -- meaning your engagement with friends, family, and your community. People who are lonely and depressed actually lose brain tissue overtime and show marked reductions in cognitive function. But people who stay connected with others and give back to their communities improve their chances of staying vibrant and sharp well into their later years.
There's a wonderful scientific study going on that's a great example of the power of staying connected. A program called Experience Corps is putting older people in schools as reading tutors for young kids. The kids are doing better, of course. But the tutors are doing better too -- a lot better! All markers of health are improving -- blood pressure and weight are going down, and mood and energy are going up. What's also interesting is that a wide range of blood tests that measure inflammation (linked to long-term risks of heart attack, stroke, and common cancers) also show improvement with social connection and emotional involvement!
Are you surprised at the control we can have over our brain health? Could this prompt you to make different lifestyle choices?View Thread
Aching joints, weight gain, loss of energy...Most people think that problems like these are inevitable with aging. But what if I told you that roughly 70% of "standard" American aging is optional? It's NOT a relentless tide. We now have a whole new understanding of the basic cellular mechanisms involved with aging, way down at the molecular level. And the stunning news from the front lines of science is that you have a choice. You can choose to become functionally younger by years, even decades, by making changes in how you live. These changes, not so surprisingly, involve exercise, nutrition, and your emotional health.
If you've let things slide for a while, you might be wondering if it's too late, if there's too much water under the bridge -- or maybe too many calories. Not at all! Studies have shown that your body can renew itself all the way into your 90s if you work hard enough to maintain physical function, and if you stay socially, emotionally, and intellectually engaged. This is the way to becoming Younger Next Year , and next decade.
Let's start with a few questions for you: How do you want to live your life in your 70s? How about in your 80s? In what ways have you aged that you're most interested in turning around? Will you commit to some good, old-fashioned work to make those turn-arounds happen?View Thread