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Many of the tonics of past cultures remain opaque despite our scientific prowess.
Researchers have "discovered" that drifting off to sleep amid the scent of lavender, peppermint, or rosemary helps to keep a sharp mind in later life.
Here's the thing, ancient Egyptians used lavender for its calming effects and as a sleep aid; ancient Greeks and Romans used peppermint for its stimulating and refreshing properties, believed to enhance memory and mental focus. And ancient Greeks also used rosemary to improve memory and concentration.
These old ways have a lot of merit.
How to overcome insomnia and sleep better, even if you try to stay awake - see item #2.
The simplest way to maintain your independence as you age is within your reach - see item #1.
⭑ Strength training at any age is good for your longevity ✔ Here's why
⭑ Waking too often? don’t watch the clock.Try these instead ✔
⭑ Some heartburn medicines are associated with dementia. Research ✔
⭑ Best resistance band exercise to build muscle mass ✔
This is an excellent article because it motivates us to start, or to keep up, regular strength training as we age. I love the opening paragraph:
We start losing muscle from age 35 onwards, and without intervention, we can lose as much as 3% a year of our remaining muscle.
The most fabulous news is that you can prevent and even reverse this decline.
I knew nothing about all this until I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when 50. In my experience at that time, nutritionists urged me to eat healthy food - which I already did - and doctors urged me to exercise more. The exercise they recommended was generally aerobic, not strength training.
Through my own research, I discovered that muscles are crucial to regulating blood sugar, and building muscle mass stimulates the production of new mitochondria within muscle cells. More mitochondria enhance the muscle's capacity to regulate blood sugar levels in the face of insulin resistance or insulin deficit (the causes of type 2 diabetes.)
Beyond diet, exercising - and especially strength training - is how I have successfully managed my type 2 diabetes for the last 25 years.
What this means for you: Being older is not a limiting factor — so it's no excuse to avoid exercise. Nothing is. Contrary to the common fear of pain or injury, it is well-recognized that being sedentary poses a greater risk to your health than being active, including doing strength training.
You need to start slowly, aim for twice a week, get expert instruction if you will use barbells or kettlebells, and include bodyweight exercises (which you can also do at home). There's no shame a lot of benefits in just doing bodyweight exercises.
Regarding gym machines - if you are too weak to stand or have balance issues, machines are valuable for rehabilitation. Otherwise, except for rowing and cycling, you'll benefit substantially more from exercising on your feet, e.g. squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, resistance band exercises etc.
⇒ Being on your feet requires tremendous neuromuscular coordination from your brain to the tips of your toes. This improves every synapse on those pathways, including neuromuscular adaptation.
"Neuromuscular adaptation" means the nervous system becomes more efficient at communicating with your muscles and getting them to respond, e.g., preventing you from falling.
Start by standing from sitting on your lounge during the ad breaks - 3 sets of 10 stands a few times a week. Kick those big muscles into life!
I'm more restless in my sleep these days. I remember once a direct flight from LA to Melbourne (AU) - 15 hours - where I fell asleep on the climb out and was woken by cabin crew on the descent into Melbourne. That's what I call a deep sleep.
This article suggests that when we wake at 3 am to smile as a way to calm our mind and promote sleep, and, oddly, to try the technique of "paradoxical intention" by attempting to stay awake in order to induce sleep.
⇒ Many people assume that their sleep pattern should remain consistent throughout their life. Still, research shows that as we get older, our sleep becomes less consolidated and more fragmented, i.e. we tend to wake up more frequently during the night.
In part, this is due to how we generally feel about life. Because feelings of anxiety and stress are on the rise, this reflects in even poorer sleep quality.
What this means for you: Accept that waking up more often is normal. Instead of worrying about the consequences of being awake at night, try shifting your mindset and accepting that waking up during the night is a normal occurrence.
Five proven tips for better sleep and getting back to sleep:
- Pre-bedtime journaling: Write down any worries or busy thoughts before going to bed to help clear your mind.
- Avoid clock-watching: Checking the time during the night can increase anxiety and disrupt your ability to fall back asleep. Avoid looking at your phone or other devices.
- Engage in calming activities: Listen to soothing audiobooks, podcasts, or mindfulness apps to help distract your mind and promote relaxation. Slow breathing exercises or counting techniques can also be beneficial.
- Get out of bed if needed: If you find yourself unable to fall back asleep after a reasonable amount of time, get out of bed and engage in a relaxing activity for a short while. Avoid stimulating activities or bright lights, and return to bed when you feel sleepy.
- Trust your sleep biology: Remember that your body has a natural ability to regulate sleep. Even if you experience frequent awakenings, trust that they will become shorter and less frequent over time.
Finally, it is common to exaggerate negative thoughts in the middle of the night.
To prevent spiralling negative thoughts, some sleep coaches suggest smiling. Smiling triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine while activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts the fight or flight response. By disengaging from the struggle, you are more likely to fall back asleep.
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03 Long-term Heartburn Medicine Usage Associated with Dementia
Something to be aware of: new research shows that long-term use of certain medications to treat heartburn and acid-related disorders is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, looked at data from over 5,700 participants who initially did not have dementia - with an average age of 75.
The study found that people who took medications such as Prilosec and Nexium (used to help manage symptoms of acid reflux) for about 4½ years or longer had a 33% higher risk of developing dementia than those who did not.
Notably, the researchers did not find a higher risk of dementia linked to shorter-term use.
⇒ Caveat: the study did not establish a causal relationship, just a hypothesis. In a group of 5,700 people of average age 75, about 5% would be expected to develop dementia anyway. The next step would be more rigorously designed trials.
What this means for you: Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Do not abruptly stop taking these medications, as it may cause your symptoms to worsen.
04 Build Muscle Mass - Resistance Band Sumo Deadlift
Our exercise of the week is... the Sumo resistance band deadlift - a multifaceted exercise for enhancing muscle mass, posture, and neuromuscular function.
The Sumo deadlift is one of the most effective and efficient variations of the deadlift.
The main difference between Sumo deadlifts and conventional deadlifts is that Sumo deadlifts are performed with a wide stance, making it much easier to achieve a high level of hip extension.
In this case, you are doing it with a resistance band, which allows for adjustable tension, accommodating different fitness levels.
⇒ The wider stance also provides better balance and allows you to pull hard on a resistance band because the hips have room to move forward.
The exercise works your glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, and core. It helps correct slouching by engaging the muscles that support your spine and encourages proper alignment of your shoulders, spine, and hips. A wealth of benefits!
What this means for you: Start by standing upright with your feet positioned two times wider than hip-width, and toes slightly pointing outwards. Wrap a band around your feet, lower into a sumo deadlift stance, and firmly grab the band, as if you are grabbing a barbell, about one bandwidth between your hands, keeping your arms between your legs. This is your starting position.
With a straight back, push down through your heels and pull the band with full strength as you return to a standing position.
Watch this video - it shows the technique.
- Start with Proper Form: Feet wider than shoulder-width, toes slightly out, back straight, and chest up.
- Use Appropriate Resistance: Choose a band with suitable resistance, not too easy or too hard.
- Engage the Core: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement to protect the lower back.
- Avoid Locking Knees: Keep a slight bend in your knees to prevent strain.
- Beginner: Start with a lighter band and focus on mastering the form.
- Intermediate: Gradually increase resistance and add more repetitions or sets.
- Advanced: Incorporate the sumo deadlift into a circuit with other resistance band exercises for a full-body workout.
Thanks for reading!
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>> My Latest Blog Post: Energise Your Golden Years: Boosting Your Desire to Exercise with Gut-Healthy Foods
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