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Post Covid it seems we are all more reactive.
Scientists just proved what yogis have known for millennia, that learning to control your breath is the pathway to overcoming your reactivity - see item #1.
Yet again, research shows that exercise is better than a pill. This time, for relieving depression - see item #2.
⭑ A lower heart rate assists with perception. This is important ✔ Here's why
⭑ Moderate activity results in more stress relief than drugs ✔ New study
⭑ Stopped adding salt? You'd have to grow your own food to cut back enough ✔
⭑ Knee sprains can heal, some slowly. These 3 exercises will help ✔
01 Heartbeat May Shape Our Perception of Time, Study Shows
This article grabbed my attention - a gut reaction - but I wondered how I would explain its significance to you, my dear readers. It took me some time, but after a break, to try to coach my daughter out of doing heavy bench presses a la Tik Tok, I had a revelation.
In the study, psychologists discovered that subjects with shorter heartbeat intervals assessed a tone as shorter than it was. In contrast, those with longer heartbeat intervals tended to perceive the tone as longer.
⇒ Hence, a lower heart rate appeared to assist with perception, said Saeedeh Sadeghi, a doctoral candidate at Cornell and the study’s lead author.
“When we need to perceive things from the outside world, the heart's beats are noise to the cortex,” she said. “You can sample the world more — it’s easier to get things in — when the heart is silent.”
The article focused on establishing that brain and the heart work together as a network to manage our perception of time, debunking the idea that only the brain is responsible for this function. This is where the scope of the study ended.
However, non-western cultures have known this for thousands of years, right?
Buddha taught that the way to break your reactive life was to breathe into the mind-body connection. This is the path to enlightenment, where you escape from your impulsive reactions and anger and become at one with your circumstances.
A step to enlightenment is to experience the reality that the mind and body are one and to command that state at will. Once experienced, never forgotten - even if, like me, you never reach enlightenment. Buddha called this the Art of Living.
What this means for you: So practically, what does the scientific proof of a lower heart rate leading to more time for the brain "to think" mean?
Quite a lot, actually.
A lower heart rate leads to enhanced perception. Enhanced perception gives you time to catch a thought before a reaction blasts out from your subconscious mind and modifies it. If you give your conscious mind the space to do so, you catch it in your conscious mind, which a lower heart rate sets up for you.
It comes down to this: vagal tone, heart rate variability, and emotional regulation.
The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps regulate our heart rate and emotional responses.
When your heartbeat is slower, it makes room for changes between beats, which accommodates a higher HRV.
⇒ Research has shown that individuals with higher vagal tone and higher heart rate variability (HRV) tend to have better emotional regulation, are less reactive to stressors, and are less likely to react impulsively to situations.
This means please take the time to exercise, and set aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, focusing on your breath and heartbeat. A slower heart beat will help give your mind the space to become less reactive and to improve your emotional stability.
Related: How To Find Purpose In Your life Without Feeling Like You Are Endlessly Chasing Your Tail
02 The Best Treatment for Depression? It Could Be Exercise
A fair-sized study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that almost any type of exercise substantially reduces depression symptoms.
The study pooled data from 41 studies involving 2,265 people with depression. It showed that almost any exercise substantially reduces depression symptoms, although some exercises seemed more beneficial than others.
“We found large, significant results,” said Andreas Heissel, an exercise scientist at the University of Potsdam in Germany, who led the study.
Specifically, they found that exercise as a treatment for severe depression is at least as effective as standard drugs or psychotherapy and, in some cases, even better. And that moderate exercise, such as walking, provides the best results for reducing depression symptoms.
This finding is supported by evidence from epidemiological studies which show that active men and women become depressed at much lower rates than sedentary people, even if they only exercise for a few minutes a day or a few days a week.
Additionally, the randomised controlled trials used in this study found that people who exercised improved their symptoms of depression by almost five points on an established diagnostic scale.
What this means for you: This finding is supported by evidence from epidemiological studies which show that active men and women become depressed at much lower rates than sedentary people, even if they only exercise for a few minutes a day or a few days a week.
Knowing the benefits is one thing, and being able to get going and keep exercise up is another. Luckily, many different types of exercise can improve symptoms associated with depression:
- Aerobic exercises (such as walking, jogging, swimming, biking etc.) are best for increasing endorphins (chemical messengers in the brain that reduce pain perception).
- Resistance training (weight training), on the other hand, is shown to increase serotonin (a neurotransmitter) levels, leading to improved mood and sleep quality.
- Engaging in social activities such as group sports or running clubs can also help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, contributing to depression.
Compared to doing nothing or taking a pill, regular physical activity helps you gain confidence when performing everyday tasks, boosting your self-esteem.
So if you'd like to clear your head and boost yourself, make time daily for exercise that you'd enjoy. And stick with it.
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03 We Have A Huge Salt Problem, WHO Warns
This is quite simple. Millions will die without action, so try not to be one of them.
You are eating too much salt.
"Excessive sodium intake is the top risk factor for an unhealthy diet, and it is responsible for 1.8 million deaths each year," said Francesco Branca, director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.
Eating too much salt is one of the causes of cardiovascular disease, which kills an estimated 17.9 million people each year, according to the WHO. It can also lead to strokes, which kill 5 million people each year globally — and other serious medical conditions.
WHO suggests consuming no more than a teaspoon of salt a day. While salt is an essential nutrient, sodium — 40 per cent of it — narrows and stiffens our blood vessels.
"If you retain more salt in the body, it slowly puts up the blood pressure," said Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, who was not involved in the report but campaigns for reducing salt intake. "That raised blood pressure then causes strokes, heart attacks or heart failure."
What this means for you: Unfortunately, there is no point in asking you to stop adding salt to your food, because it’s already in there!
According to the Food and Drug Administration, in the American diet, more than 70 per cent of salt comes from packaged and prepared foods, and not from the salt shaker at home.
Therefore, what it means for all of us to read the label! Most people in the world consume about 10.8 grams of salt a day. This is more than double the 5 grams recommended by the WHO.
In September 2022, the FDA announced that it planned to change the rules for nutrition labels on food packages to indicate that they are “healthy.” Manufacturers would be required to adhere to specific limits for, among other nutrients, sodium. This will make it far easier to choose lower salt options.
Related: The Surprising Benefits of Black Tea Daily
04 Sprained Your Knee? These 3 Exercises Will Help Recovery
Our exercises of the week are... for easing knee pain if you have sprained your medial collateral ligament (MCL).
The MCL is one of four ligaments that keep our knee joints stable. It spans from the end of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone) and is on the inner side of your knee joint. That span is why it's so painful when the ligament is stretched too much or torn.
Most people feel MCL sprain along the knee's inside edge and may also have swelling. The most common cause is a sideways hit or pressure on the knee.
⇒ MCL sprains are not uncommon when we are older due to catching our toe as we walk or get out of the car, sudden sideways pressure, or lifting something too heavy (and hearing a little pop).
Mine popped when I was doing a front squat. The weights were not heavy, so the sprain was probably due to incorrect foot alignment.
A cause of MCL sprain that you won’t read on Google (not on the first two pages anyway) is the loss of muscular strength and endurance of the muscles that stabilise your ankles. This is a biggy as we age because the muscles atrophy unless you exercise them.
Poor ankle stability leads to pronation - rolling inwards or outwards - and if your ankle allows your foot to overpronate (it rolls inward as you move), this will chronically sprain your MCL. You need help from a podiatrist.
What this means for you: Most MCL injuries do have the ability to heal. This is especially true if the MCL is the only ligament torn around the knee.
Once the swelling and acute pain has subsided, exercises will help your recovery and help prevent further sprains. Here are three simple but very effective ones that you can do daily:
Clamshells: Lie on your side with your knees bent and your feet together. Keeping your feet touching, lift your top knee as high as possible, then slowly lower it back down. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides. Adding a resistance band is a fantastic level-up and will improve your walking stability.
Wall sits: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly slide down the wall until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle as if you are sitting in an invisible chair. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly slide back up the wall.
Step-ups: Stand in front of a step or sturdy platform with one foot on the step and the other on the ground. Step up onto the platform with the other foot, then back down. Repeat for 10 to 20 repetitions, then switch legs.
I'll add these to my free exercise app (see below).
Related: Rebuilding Your Fast-twitch Muscles Doesn’t Require Fast Movements. Rebuild Your Balance in 2 Minutes Daily
Thanks for reading!
P.S. If you are not yet subscribed to my free exercise app, try now ↓↓↓ Free forever. Opt-out any time. Opt-in by CLICKING HERE PLEASE SEND ME THE EXERCISES. NOTE: YOU ONLY NEED TO SUBSCRIBE ONE TIME.
>> My Latest Blog Post: How Many Pistachios Should I Eat For Sleep and When?
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Resources for you:
How To Go From On-knee to Full Pushups, and Reap The Benefits
The Exact Slow Pace You Must Run and Cycle To Max Fat-Burning
As You Age Pistachios Can Help You Sleep Better
How To Keep Your Weight Off With Daily Walks — 5 Fun Level-ups That Everyone Can Do
Vitamin D Is Free Yet We Don’t Get Enough And Our Health Is Suffering
This One Exercise Will Reshape Your Body And Your Brain, If You’re Game
Walking Backwards Benefits So Much More Than Your Knees
Skipping Breakfast May Make You More Likely To Develop Diabetes - Research
Measuring Your Waist Will Tell You If You Are On Your Way To Diabetes
How To Sleep Better And Recover Like Elite Soccer Players
Forget Beetroot Juice, Eat More Vegetables For Nitrate Potency And Longer Life
Holy Mackerel! Researchers Confirm Walnuts Help Your Muscles Stay Stronger Helping Live Longer
Dizziness And Cataracts - Is There A Link?
How To Get The Health Benefits Of Black Tea - Even If You Don't Like Drinking It
How To Walk Better (And Undo The Damage Of Treadmills)
Rebuilding Your Fast-twitch Muscles Doesn’t Require Fast Movements. Rebuild Your Balance in 2 Minutes Daily
I Started Trail Running At 70. Besides Being Bitten By A Dog I Love It
Drink This Many Cups Of Coffee Daily For Better Health
How Avoiding A High Viral Load Can Save Your Life - Coronavirus
Shining Light On Infrared Therapy - It Helped Unlock My Shoulder
Brain Health Is Boosted By Eating Less, Often — Here’s How To Start
Why Walnuts Lower Heart Disease and Help You Sleep Better
The Surprising Way Hip Flexors Pull You Down Into An Elderly Stoop And Shuffle, And How To Avoid It
Are You Ab-Wheel Rolling To Back Pain? I Was — Not Now
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