Did you know almost a third of people who break their hip bones will die from complications?
It’s astounding – and it’s just one more example of how the commonplace is also the unexpected. We panic about bird flu, when the usual flu is really the killer. Movies sensationalize bear and shark attacks when we’re far more likely to get fatally hurt by the neighbor’s dog.
I don’t think this is cause for holing up in your bedroom (after all, you’re much more likely to die falling out of bed than being in a plane crash or getting shot). I don’t even think it’s cause for yet another worry. It’s simply a good reminder that we humans aren’t so good at risk assessment. We have irrationally huge fears about things that will probably never affect us, and we underestimate the garden-variety threats. (Check out my post “Risk Schmisk” using the search option at right to learn more about our quirky brains.)
What this means: We are far more likely to be hurt by everyday encounters – and a lot of these can be prevented with some reasonable lifestyle measures. Call me a silver-lining type of guy – I think this is pretty good news. For the most part, we don’t have to worry about catastrophic or unpredictable health threats. We are lucky in that we can prevent most health problems. In the case of hip bone fractures, which plague far too many Americans, there are some very simple ways to stop this unexpectedly dangerous occurrence.
Regular weight-bearing activity like weight lifting, walking, hiking or jogging is a great way to maintain and build bones. Avoid soda, take a multivitamin containing calcium, and remember to take it easy by avoiding stressful situations as much as you can.
As we have noted, there is a new trend in the world of training. No, it doesn’t involve some new fangled fitness contraption or hip new exercise program. In fact it doesn’t involve much physical activity at all. Use your head and you just might figure out what we mean. Yes, that’s right! This craze is all about training your brain.
Maintaining brain fitness through diet, exercise, and now mind-workouts has become one of the latest health movements. Nintendo’s video game Brain Age released early last year made the idea of boosting brain power through mental calisthenics widely popular. Since then brain gyms and brain health programs have been cropping up across the nation.
The notion of brain training simply takes the philosophy behind physical exercise and applies it to the mental realm. Hitting the gym can help build strength and endurance. Spending time focusing your mind on specific mental tasks should keep your mind sharp and agile. So goes the theory of brain training.
Proponents of brain training say that structured mental activity can be as good for your mind as physical activity is for the rest of your body.
But can you really train your brain to work better?
Although the science is still out on exactly which behaviors can effectively improve brain fitness there is evidence, and popular wisdom, that suggests that an active mind is a healthy mind.
With this in mind (pun intended) two websites aim to please those interested in improving cognition and brain power: Happy Neuron and My Brain Trainer. Both sites offer (for a fee) daily challenging exercises, games and other cerebral activities that are designed to stimulate your mind and improve your memory and ability to focus. These sites also highlight other mental capacities like reaction time, critical thinking skills, and visual and spatial perception. Additionally, they both give you the ability the track your progress over time to see if your mind really is becoming sharper.
In the near future expect to see a lot on the topic of brain health; specifically, ways to slow cognitive degeneration and improve mental skills.
The Top 10 Tips for: fighting the free radicals that destroy the body
10. Take the world’s most potent antioxidant supplement.
9. Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke (and stop smoking!).
8. Don’t eat deep-fried anything. Fried is not your friend.
7. Drink alcohol in moderation.
6. Meditate, journal or pray for a few minutes every day. This helps your body regulate its stress hormones better, which keeps everything running smoothly, including your immune system and the body’s inflammatory response.
5. Exercise several times a week. This stimulates feel-good hormones, the immune system, and the metabolism. Exercise also helps reduce hormonal stress, inflammation, stress to your liver, and yes…oxidation.
4. Eat clean: Try to eat organic meat and dairy products. Wash produce thoroughly.
3. Consume good fats with reckless abandon. (Things like grass-fed meat, wild fish, DHA-enhanced eggs, nuts, avocados, Smart Butter, and olive oil.)
2. Eat foods containing antioxidants every day: vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts…yum!
1. And the number one way to reduce inflammation and oxidation (and thereby prevent or reduce most health problems and diseases)? Lay off the sugar! Just say no to processed, refined, empty calories from things like soda, white bread, white pasta, sugary cereals, pastries and other starchy snacks. Yes, these foods are pretty…pretty evil.
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You can get fit by following the Rule of 5.
- Craving something unhealthy? Drink a big glass of water and wait five minutes.
- Don’t feel like working out? Just do it for five minutes (once you start, it’s easy to keep going).
- Feel hungry all the time, even after you’ve eaten? Eat half your plate, then wait five minutes. Your brain will register that you’ve eaten and you’ll be able to cut down on those monster portions (and that monster in your stomach).
- Feeling stressed? Breathe deeply – in through your nose, out through your mouth – for five minutes. I promise, you’ll feel so deliriously happy by the end of it, you’ll think you swallowed helium or possibly even something illegal. This breathing exercise is also terrific for your immune system and brain.
- Just about any problem, stress, craving or issue can be resolved if you simply wait five minutes. Follow the rule of five and see if you don’t feel better, fast.
Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge to you:
Every day this week, either get yourself outside or to the gym. No excuses (sky falling? Okay). Working out every day, all the time, isn’t totally necessary, but it certainly is good for you – and you’ll feel amazing come the weekend. Commit to at least 30 minutes every day this week.
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