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The 5 minute 'Health' read - Lifestyle: recent research (December)

I read a fair amount of research and thought some people might be interested in recent studies that I've found helpful.  I plan to write a blog post pretty much every week, highlighting helpful material that has emerged in the previous couple of months.  I'll rotate through six topic areas ... Lifestyle, Positive Psychology, Relationships, Ageing, Psychedelics, and Meditation.  I also plan to write occasional posts where I go into more detail about particular related subject areas. 

Here, for example, are ten Lifestyle posts mostly published in the last few weeks.  I found it intriguing that in addition to expected benefits for depression & anxiety (see Singh et al below), there is growing evidence that episodes of exercise improve brain functioning within minutes ... and for wide-ranging age groups (see Kekäläinen et al, Legrand et al, Monserrat et al and Polevoy et al below). 

How to live well - a shared exploration

Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.

- David Mitchell

                                   how to live well – a shared exploration 

what is it? This course is ambitious. It aims to help us live longer, healthier lives that are more energised, happy and fulfilled. We will work to improve our knowledge and activities in three interconnected areas – optimising wellbeing, nourishing relationships, and living with health, energy & resilience. The course is constructed partly on the recent state-of-the-art, evidence-based ENHANCE intervention for building wellbeing, with ingredients that focus on our values, self-determination theory’s needs/goals/motivations, mindfulness & compassion, positive emotions & savouring, and the central importance of relationships. 

Strength training exercises improve both physical & psychological health

Poor muscle strength predicts increased vulnerability to both physical & psychological health problems and earlier death, in addition to the contribution of poor aerobic, heart-lung fitness.  This is true for both men & women and for all assessed age ranges.  Mechanisms underlying these effects are probably multifactorial, including metabolic/biochemical, neurological & psychological factors.  Research studies have assessed overall muscular strength in a variety of ways including grip strength, push-ups, chair-stands, and squat weight-lifts.  Happily, muscle strengthening interventions can yield major benefits across multiple health domains.  Here are a dozen interesting papers addressing these areas published in the last few years:

How to live well: 2nd meeting - mindset, motivation, positive emotions, exercise & sleep

             

                      "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."     Henry Ford                

                        "Knowledge is only rumour, until it is in the muscle."   New Guinea proverb

"Earth": the basic foundations of energy & health

“ My house having burnt down, nothing now impedes my bright vision of the moon. ” - Zen saying

The four chapters in this "Earth" section cover core foundations of energy & health - Food, Exercise, Sleep and Addictions.

 

 

 

Ch.2: Exercise

From the place where we are right/Flowers will never grow/In the spring.

The place where we are right/Is hard and trampled/Like a yard.

But doubts and loves/Dig up the world/Like a mole, a plow/And a whisper will be heard in the place/Where the ruined/House once stood.

 

- Yehuda Amichai

As the 14th Earl of Derby is reported to have said "He who cannot find the time for exercise will later have to find the time for illness".  Potential areas to cover in this chapter include: Proportion of death & illness due to lack of activity. Relevance to mental disorders.  Prevalence of inactivity & changes over time.  Relevance of HIIT.  Relevance of extended sitting.  How much exercise needed.  Value of strength training too – suggestions.

 

Exercise

Friendship is the single most important factor influencing our health, well-being, and happiness.

- Robin Dunbar

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - aspects of self-compassion

I've woken early.  Lying here I feel an unfamiliar hollow pressure in my gut.  What is this?  Fear?  Anxiety? Tension?  "Tense apprehension" seems to fit.  I'm lying here in the early hours of the morning, a hollow tense apprehension in my belly.  And it isn't surprising.  Pretty normal in fact as I move closer & closer to major surgery.  Consciously.  By my own decision.  On this journey, travelling down the "kidney donation river", I can hear the roar of the approaching rapids.  Surgery soon.  It's a pretty standard, basic, healthy response to tense a bit as I move towards the crux, possibly the most intense section of this "donation river".  And I don't have to tighten the rest of my body around the belly apprehension.  I can let go, loosen in my arms, my face.  It's OK. Nothing to do right now.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - goals and journey

I'm due to donate a kidney soon, and I have been writing about what's involved - see "Kidney donation: why it's well worth considering", "Kidney donation: what are the risks?" and "Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - values are central".  Primarily these posts are for other donors, but aspects of what I write are also relevant for facing challenges more generally as well.

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