How exercise slows the aging process

We all get older, but what if there was something we could do to age more slowly?

According to a 2017 study published in Preventive Medicine and research conducted at McMaster University in Ontario; just about any type and amount of physical exercise could slow the aging process where it counts: Deep within the cells of our bodies. Take a look at how increasing age can affect your health and what exercise can do to slow that process down.

How aging affects you

Time is the great equalizer because we are all subject to the gradual process of aging. For those of us who manage to avoid serious disease, severe accidents, or major medical events like stroke or heart attack – age will change us slowly, but inexorably. Let’s take a look at how the steady passage of time can degrade your health and abilities.

Significant aging by your 30’s

By the time you leave your 20s, there are significant signs of aging that will affect your metabolism, heart, and circulatory system.

  • After age 30, the average males maximum heart rate is reduced by about one beat per minute every year.
  • The peak capacity of the heart to pump blood will decline by five to ten percent every decade after your 30th birthday. That means your heart will decline from being able to pump approximately 2.5 quarts of blood per minute in your 20’s to around one quart in your 80s.
  • Your third decade of life is when blood vessels begin to stiffen, and blood pressure can begin to creep up. Worse, the blood can become increasingly thicker, making it harder to pump. Your red blood cells will also decline in number, making it harder to move oxygen to where it’s needed.
  • We begin to lose muscle mass, which reduces our strength levels and contributes to a lower resting metabolic rate, which leads to the next effect of aging.
  • Most of us will begin to put on excess body fat by middle-age; an average of three to four pounds per year after 30. This weight gain is typically accompanied by a rise in blood sugar levels that may eventually lead to diabetes.

Muscle loss, osteoporosis, hormone changes, and insomnia

As we age, we’ll continue to lose more muscle mass. Ultimately, our bodies can lose up to half the muscle we had in our 20s. We don’t just get weaker from muscle loss, though; our muscles and ligaments become less flexible which can make restrict movement and make us more susceptible to injury.

We all, man or woman, will experience bone loss, called osteoporosis. As a result, the risk of fractures will increase with age. Both sexes will experience a drop in sex hormones, testosterone for men and estrogen for women. While women suffer a precipitous drop in estrogen levels after age 50 due to menopause, men’s testosterone levels tend to decline by approximately one percent every year after age 40. This is why sexual vigor and desire gradually fall into late middle age and beyond.

Our nervous system also deteriorates with age. Your reflexes will slow down, and it will become harder to recall information (those embarrassing ‘senior moments’) or learn new things.

With increasing age, the quantity and quality of sleep that we get begin to decline. We have more trouble falling asleep and wake up more often through the night. Most men will also start to urinate more frequently during the night due to prostate issues – further reducing the quality of sleep.

The effects of exercise on aging

According to recent research conducted at McMaster University in Ontario that involved a breed of mice that experienced early aging; a regular exercise routine may slow or even undo the symptoms of premature aging in the test animals.

When the test mice remained sedentary, they quickly showed signs of aging like cognitive decline (dementia), becoming weaker, frailer, wizened, gray or losing hair. But, when these animals were provided access to a running wheel – they kept their youth, hair, strength, memory, and sexual health significantly longer than the sedentary mice.

Your telomeres tell your age

The 2017 study published in Preventive Medicine also discovered that exercise could slow our biological aging by about ten years. Researchers collected data from almost 6,000 people who had participated in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 and 2002. These participants had been asked both demographic and lifestyle questions – including exercise frequency.

Most importantly they also looked at telomere lengths. Telomeres are the protective structures on the ends of our chromosomes that help maintain stability, a lot like how the plastic bit at the end of a shoelace keeps it from coming undone. Every time our cells divide, these telomeres get a bit shorter. Once they get too short to protect a chromosome, the cell gets old and dies, possibly causing age-related cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.

Exercise preserves telomeres to slow aging

In the 2017 study, exercise scientists at Brigham Young University in Utah investigated the effect of physical activity on telomere length. The result was that they found substantial evidence of differences between people who got a high level of regular, intense exercise and people who didn’t. Researchers found that adults that maintained high levels of physical exercise experienced an aging advantage of almost ten years when compared to sedentary individuals. Even moderate levels of physical activity had a benefit; active people’s telomeres were about seven years younger than their chronological age.

For this study, a high level of physical activity was defined as going for a 30 to 40 minute run at least five days per week.

The study authors conclude that to have a real impact on the rate of biological aging, getting just a little exercise won’t have any real effect. You’re going to need to exercise often and at a high level. They also say that they now know that one reason that regular physical activity helps to prolong life and reduce mortality from all causes may be because it keeps our telomeres healthy to keep our cells functioning well longer.

Teen Mental Health Awareness

Teen on Smartphone? Mental HealthIs the current crop of teenagers experiencing worse mental health than teenagers at any other time in the past?

It goes without saying that the current pace of social and technological change is challenging to young minds. The internet, social media, smartphones, the threat of war, and a frightening political climate can all combine to turn typical teenage angst into actual mental illness. How do you tell the difference between natural moodiness and when something is seriously wrong?

Typical teen angst or something more?

Teens can have a short fuse and lose their temper quickly, especially when they reach that phase when they naturally need to separate from their family members and think that they don’t have enough space or privacy.

This healthy and normal separation process starts in early adolescence, and it’s when parents notice that their child starts to feel embarrassed by them and wants to spend lots more time with their peers and not much time at all with family.

Seeing your teen spend hours at a time on the internet or locked away in their room messaging or phoning friends can be worrying. More worrying is how defensive they may become when you ask them what they’ve been doing or who they were communicating with.

Believe it or not, this behavior is absolutely normal. Teens naturally need to separate from the family to practice (and enjoy) greater independence in preparation for adulthood. It’s a healthy reaction to act defensively to attain this goal.

At this critical phase of life, you’ll see that even though your teen might cringe at the thought of spending time with their family, he or she will still be able to enjoy passing the time with friends socially and take part in typical school and extracurricular activities away from home.

Signs of trouble

However, If you notice that your child isn’t engaging in healthy activities or socially with friends or is continually sad, angry or disconnected; his or her behavior has become unhealthy and could require some kind of intervention.

It can seem impossible to tell the difference between the signs of depression and the usual dark moods that every teenager may experience at times. But, if you become concerned that your child could be silently suffering emotional issues or even behaving in a way that raises concerns; you might want to try speaking with other parents or organizations to compare your child’s behavior their peer group. If you’re still concerned after that, then it may be a good idea to speak with your pediatrician to find out if a mental health professional can offer more help.

Teen depression really is more prevalent

Among US 12 to 20 year olds, the chance of experiencing major depression over the course of the year has significantly increased according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This survey asks the same structured questions every year to discover changing health trends in the US population. The survey also found that girls experienced a steeper increase in depression than boys, and it was even more severe in the 18 to 20 year old age group.

Researchers tried adjusting for the frequency of drug and alcohol abuse, but the trend was still apparent. So, the increased frequency can’t be blamed on substance abuse or drinking. Next, they examined household composition; whether there was one, both or neither parent present. Household composition didn’t have any influence either.

Listen more and talk less

While your first impulse may be to offer advice based on your own experiences or give a speech about how they should deal with their feelings – the best idea may be to simply listen to him or her. Depression and anxiety can make a child or teen withdraw into themselves; instead of telling them how they should feel, try asking them to tell you what they feel.

Once they feel comfortable telling you what’s going on in their heads, you may be surprised at what you hear. Regardless, you’ll understand why your child feels the way they do and maybe even what made them feel that way.

teen girl with cuts on arm

Teen suicide rate increasing for 10 to 14 year olds

The second biggest cause of death among adolescents between 15 to 19 years of age is suicide. Only accidents kill more children in that age group. And, that rate of death has actually been decreasing since the 90s. But, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that, according to the most recent data available, the risk of death by suicide is the same as the risk of dying in a traffic accident for children from 10 to 14 years old.

Studies show that 90 percent of teen suicide attempts are preceded by significant warning signs. While any particular warning sign doesn’t mean your child is going to attempt suicide, you mustn’t ever ignore it, either.

  • Personality changes like withdrawing, feeling sad, anxious, irritable, or exhausted.
  • Behavior changes: a disintegration of social relationships, deterioration of school performance, reduced involvement in normal activities.
  • Insomnia, nightmares, and excessive sleeping.
  • Appetite loss, weight loss or overeating
  • Erratic behavior, self-harming or hurting others

There are actions you can take to help your child. Guard your teen against the risk of committing suicide by:

  • Interacting positively with your child by giving consistent positive feedback and compliments for doing well.
  • Get your child more involved in positive activities like clubs, sports or hobbies.
  • Keep track of your teen’s whereabouts, and their texting and social media use to prevent problems like cyberbullying from becoming an issue.
  • Keep track of your child’s social environment and regularly speak with other parents in your community to stay aware of potentially harmful fads or behaviors.
  • Speak regularly with his or her teachers to make sure you’re aware of any issues at school.
  • Communicate with your child about any concerns you may have, or specifically ask if he or she has suicidal thoughts.
  • Finally, talk about your concerns with a pediatrician to find out if you should get a referral to a mental health professional.

Smartphone addiction

According to a study published in 2017 by researchers at Korea University, and reported in a press release from the Radiological Society of North America, there is an observable imbalance in the brain chemistry of children and teens addicted to using their smartphones.

There are certain personality traits that could mean your child is more susceptible to smartphone addiction. These traits can include:

  • Being worrisome, fearful, pessimistic, and shy.
  • They can have altered reward dependence; your teen tends to be dependent on rewards associated with using the internet or a smartphone, instead of more natural rewards from activities like spending time with friends or family, doing well in school, or enjoying a (non-digital) hobby.
  • They have low self-esteem.
  • They don’t cooperate well with others.

Lead researcher, Dr. Hyung Suk Seo, told Medical News Today that, “There’s more danger in this addiction than just the potential of wasting a lot of time sharing memes and viral videos. In fact, teens who are addicted to their phones and the Internet have a chemical imbalance in their brains that predispose them to depression and anxiety.”

Social media and cyber-bullying

Other reports have associated with social media use with depressive symptoms. There’s also significant evidence that cyberbullying could be connected to an increase in feelings of depression (especially among girls), that may increase the risk of suicide.

Research shows that:

  • 92 percent of teens claim that they spend time online every day and 24 percent state that they’re online almost continually.
  • More than half of teens are on the internet multiple times per day.
  • 94 percent of teens go on the Internet using their smartphones at least once per day.
  • For 71 percent of teens, Facebook is the most often visited social media website, followed by 52 percent for Instagram and 44 percent for Snapchat.

A report in the journal JAMA Pediatrics states that cyberbullying and depression go hand-in-hand. Ten studies were examined to find the link between social media bullying and depression in young people. Every one of them found a connection.

Although you may feel at a loss about how to guide your children away from the harmful effects of a social media obsession; taking away the smartphone could make things worse for particular children. If you find out that cyberbullying or social media addiction is causing your teen depression or excess anxiety, it may be best to get professional advice from a medical or psychiatric professional about the right way to handle it.

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You Can Manager Anger Through Mindfulness

Angry Screaming ManHow many events have forced you to take a deep breath, give yourself a timeout, step back from a situation or simply explode when something (or someone) made you angry?

It’s an even bet that none of these methods really helped you calm down and adequately control your anger. While it’s easy to put the blame on you, the fault may lie with your methods. Most traditional methods of anger management are out-dated and never all that effective to begin with. Let’s take a look at anger, how it affects you mentally and physically, how the old methods of anger management fail, and what mindfulness practice can.

Bad ways to deal with anger

We all typically respond to anger in one of two ways; we either explode or we repress the feeling and keep our anger hidden deep inside. Neither of these methods is effective, healthy or productive. It’s safe to say that since the dawn of civilization, finding ways to deal with anger has been a constant concern at every social level. From the family to relations between countries; controlling anger has been instrumental in avoiding unnecessary violence and keeping the peace.

The history of anger management

Anger’s negative effects have been documented throughout the ages. Methods of controlling this powerful emotion have been offered by ancient Roman philosophers, religious figures, and medical men from every period in human history.

St. Francis of Assisi famously calmed a raging wolf. The famous Roman-era, Greek doctor and surgeon Galen foreshadowed modern psychoanalysis when he recommended people find a mentor to advise and calm them to control their rage.

Modern anger management was devised by psychologists who sought to find effective ways to stop anger in its tracks, suppress it, or even find a safe or productive way to express it. Mental health professionals thought that the similarity between stress and anger might be the key.

Beginning in the 70s, psychotherapists began using an anti-anxiety treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy as an effective approach to anger management. Cognitive behavioral therapy was simply a method of getting someone accustomed to experiencing gradually increasing levels of stress until they became used to controlling their (excessive) anxiety. The theory was that if it works for anxiety – why wouldn’t it work for anger?

It’s from cognitive behavioral therapy that we have learned all the classic methods of anger management:

  • Beating up a pillow
  • Taking deep breaths
  • Counting to ten
  • Stepping away from the situation

Anger Management Through Mindfulness

However, anger must be dealt with directly for emotional well-being and mental health. Cognitive behavioral therapy is, ultimately, only a way to suppress and avoid the heart of the problem: How you respond emotionally to situations and social interactions. None of the traditional methods of anger management offer a way to avoid becoming angry to begin with. What you need is a method that helps us to change how we see situations and keep calm rather than waiting to lose our tempers first. Mindfulness offers us a new way to do precisely that.

The negative effects of uncontrolled anger

Anger is an emotion that comes with incredible consequences for our health.

The first effect that anger has is that it triggers our innate “fight or flight” man with rage faceresponse. Once we become angry, our adrenal glands begin pumping massive amounts of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol, into the body. Increased levels of these stress hormones prepare the body to respond physically to danger by:

  • Moving blood from the internal organs to the muscles
  • Raising the heart rate
  • Increasing blood pressure
  • Increasing body temperature and sweating
  • Sharpening your mental focus

All of these responses can cause short and long-term health problems, many of which we are all familiar with from experience. Increased blood pressure can cause headaches, while blood being moved away from the internal organs can create digestive problems. The effects of chronically high stress levels from uncontrolled anger can also cause cardiovascular problems. High blood pressure and associated problems that come with it (like heart attack or stroke) are deadly consequences of regularly losing your temper.

Psychologically, anger can severely diminish your quality of life. Chronic anger can make someone depressed, and the insomnia of continually stewing over some real (or imagined) slight will exhaust you mentally.

Be mindful to learn from your anger

Anger is an emotion that courses through both our bodies and our minds until its exhausted itself, much like a forest fire that dies down once all the available fuel has been burned up. But, what if we step back and find out what set us off?

Mindfulness, focusing our awareness on the now, can help us to discover what we’re sensitive to and where our psychological boundaries lie so we can stop anger before it starts. Use mindfulness to switch from reacting instinctively, to keeping a mindset of self-investigation and even curiosity that will allow you to productively deal with the event or situation that otherwise would set you off.

Forget anger management, use impulse control

Fist Through GlassClassic anger management techniques won’t help you stop yourself before you lose control. You’re already angry and trying to control how you express or suppress the feeling. On the other hand, impulse control keeps anger from starting at all. Mindfulness practice gives you the ability to control the anger impulse by deciding consciously how you want to react, instead of reacting first and trying to control your reaction afterward. Mindfulness offers us a way to keep control and make every interaction productive and meaningful. Mindfulness will give you the control to decide the best course of action instead of losing control and risking violence, broken relationships or serious legal problems when confronted with the stressful situations that life is full of.

Be mindful to recognize your anger triggers

Your anger triggers could be anything. We are all unique people with our own points of view, emotional makeup, and personal experiences. But, we all do have some things in common. For many of us, emotional triggers can involve:

  • Situations that we feel are unfair or unjust
  • Feeling disrespected
  • Irritations like loud or annoying people, noises, behavior, environment
  • Physical assault or discomfort

Use mindfulness to recognize the impulse that comes before you lose your temper. Although you may not have observed it before, there is always an impulse that precedes an angry outburst or even makes you react passive-aggressively. These impulses are the physical sensations and thoughts that your anger trigger produces. While it may feel like you’re angry, the anger impulse isn’t the same, but it is an opportunity to take control rather than lose control.

Don’t control your anger, acknowledge it and let it pass

Use mindfulness to stay in the present and understand why you could feel angry, but keep the control necessary to choose not to. By grounding yourself in the moment, you can use different techniques to stay in the moment and maintain control.

Two methods that may work for you are:

  • Hugging yourself tight to remind yourself that you’re utterly in the now.
  • Clasp your hands together and interlock the fingers, then squeeze tightly to remind yourself to focus on the world around you, not your angry thoughts.

The trick is to focus on staying in the now to best evaluate your best course of action. We are all different, and what works for one person may not work for you. Mindfulness is a means to be thoroughly engaged in your approach to life, and you need to discover what techniques or methods work to keep you focused on what’s happening now.

Use mindfulness to stop yourself before you lose control. You’ll be able to learn how to deal with things and situations productively rather than hurting your body, mind, and relationships by repeating the same old patterns of behavior.

Anger is not a useless emotion

By being mindful you will not allow anger to be an impulse emotion that dictates your thoughts and actions but will conscientiously use anger. When you are mindful of getting angry about something it will be something that you care enough about to allow it to interrupt your flow. As well you’ll more than likely be able to interpret when your ego is feeling selfishly wounded versus something that is important to you sparking your own anger. I know that it doesn’t sound natural but sometimes you may find yourself emotionally worked up over something and it really isn’t even representative of the person that you are or wish to be.

One example that really helps me to visualize what this may look like is this. Think about how often throughout our American history someone has found cause to be angry about something? Then in turn look how they used that anger to start a movement that facilitated change for the better? See it really can be positive!

Understanding Supplements for What They Are

Sifting through the supplement hype

It seems that every time you turn on the television, read a magazine or check out Supplements in Handthe latest bestselling books – someone claims to have discovered the next miracle method to:

  • Lose weight
  • Be healthier
  • Look younger
  • Feel happier

The vast majority of these claims typically take a little truth and mix in some fancy ideas to make it suddenly appear revolutionary (anybody remember chromium picolinate?).

While many of these claims are completely unbelievable, they may still seem valid through some other factor. For example, someone selling a weight loss method could tell you that you also need to follow particular guidelines for the method to work best.

You’re tricked into thinking that it’s your fault if it doesn’t work for you. You were told that by taking the supplement or using the device they’re selling would work; as long as you did something like reduce calories or get more exercise. Was it what they sold you that caused weight loss? Or was it eating less and moving more?

Don’t Believe All the Claims

We’ve all heard it before: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true.”

If it were so easy to lose weight, look younger, be stronger or even smarter, then we would all be thin, gorgeous, and brighter than Einstein. Don’t be naïve when you read the claims many supplement brands are making. Would anything that really worked that good be available without a prescription? The reason the illegal steroid trade exists is that those supplements obviously don’t work that well, if at all.

If you’re looking for a miracle wrinkle remover, then remember that so far, there are no plastic surgeons being put out of business. If it were as easy as using a face cream or pill, then 50-year-old actresses would still be playing high-school students and not grandmothers.

Does anything work as advertised?

That isn’t to say that there are no supplements or weight loss plans that work as advertised. You just need to do your research. It’s true that vitamin D supplements will prevent winter flu, help treat seasonal affective disorder, and prevent cardiovascular disease. There is solid research that proves it. It doesn’t mean that taking vitamin D will make you bullet-proof – no matter what anyone says in an ad.

There are lots of herbal extracts and supplements that can speed healing, encourage restful sleep, and relieve pain. A quick online search will find many peer-reviewed research studies by scientists who conducted experiments to find out what they could do. Do not trust what that ad in the latest health magazine says without finding out more from reliable sources.

The oldest trick in the book

Were you ever tempted to call the number on a TV, radio or print ad and fork over your credit card number for the solution to your problem? Think hard and ask to see the fine print. Many times consumers don’t just agree to a one time purchase. Unscrupulous companies will automatically subscribe you to recurring orders that are automatically charged to your credit card. Buyer beware isn’t just a saying, it’s a way of life in our consumer-based society.

Don’t let them play on your fears, insecurity, and laziness

The supplement salesmen are just that; salesmen. They are not medical professionals; their job is to sell you a product. They don’t care if you can’t afford it, should be using a cheaper alternative or if it doesn’t work as advertised.

They do this by playing on your emotions. Just like a deodorant commercial that makes you think that if you don’t use the product that they’re flogging you’ll lose all your friends. Don’t fall for it.

We all know that the only healthy way to lose weight and stay healthy is by exercising and watching what we eat. But, it’s so tempting to believe someone who promises quick, effortless results. Use your common sense and tune those jokers out.

Fads come and go

pill bottle and pillsWhether it’s an exercise program, diet aid or wrinkle remover; the same ideas are used over and over again. It could be under a new name or wrapped in fancy terminology, but it’s the same old scam. Think back a bit, and I’m sure you’ll remember some doozies:

  • The ab-roller
  • Juice diets
  • The raw diet
  • Weight loss tea
  • Anything hawked by a celebrity (calling Chuck Norris…)

But every year some version of these old ideas keep on coming back dressed up with new hype.

Stick to the facts

There are many herbal, vitamin, and nutritional supplements that will do what the label says it will. Many herbs have significant benefits for a broad range of health conditions. Vitamins are necessary to maintain a healthy metabolism and prevent disease. Protein powders and supplements like creatine have real science backing them.

If you remember to ignore the hype, don’t believe everything you’re told, and always find a reliable source of information to verify what you hear about the health and fitness aids that are continually being pushed on the media you’ll:

  • Save money
  • Stay healthy
  • Find products that really work

Don’t forget, when it comes to your health, stick to the facts. Also don’t discount that herbal tea is an ancient and well documented way to get your supplements. That history is a form of validation of those teas and there effects.