Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wow! Meditation helps with physical change mentally

Aristotle said that ‘happiness depends upon ourselves’ and a new study suggests it is possible to physically grow a happier brain through practices like meditation.
Although scientists have known which hormones produce emotions like pleasure or desire, it has been unclear where the feeling of overall contentment and well-being stems from.

To find out, scientists at Kyoto University asked 51 volunteers to rate their own happiness levels and then scanned their brains to see if they could spot any differences between the upbeat individuals and their more glum counterparts

"This does not surprise me at all. The brain is malleable, just like other organs"
Prof Paul Dolan, London School of Economics
Intriguingly they discovered that an area of the brain called the precuneus was larger in people who were happier. It suggests that happiness can be worked like a muscle.
Previous studies have shown that regular meditation can boost grey matter in the precuneus, which could explain why those who meditate report experiencing feelings of general contentment and even bliss.
The scientists behind the finding said it will now be possible to clinically measure what things make people happier.
"Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is," said author Dr Wataru Sato said. "I'm very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy.
"Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter mass in the precuneus.
“This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research.
“This study suggests it is possible to grow a happier brain.”
Brains The precuneus, highlighted, sits in the medial parietal lobe
Researchers believe that the precuneus is particularly important for subjective happiness, such as where someone chooses to make the best of a situation and see it in a more positive light.
Volunteers who scored higher on the happiness surveys had more grey matter mass in the precuneus.
In other words, people who feel happiness more intensely, feel sadness less intensely, and are more able to find meaning in life have a larger precuneus. The difference in size between the person with the biggest and the smallest was about 15 per cent.
“Happiness is a subjective experience that has special significant for humans,” added Dr Sato,
“Our results suggest that psychological training that effectively increases grey matter and volume in the precuneaus may enhance subjective happiness.”
Paul Dolan at the 2015 Hay FestivalProfessor Paul Dolan  Photo: Jay Williams
Happiness expert Prof Paul Dolan at the London School of Economics said it was clear that the brain could be changed.
Speaking about the new research he said: “This does not surprise me at all. The brain is malleable, just like other organs.
“Paying attention can literally change your brain. In London, Black Cab taxi drivers have to pass a very difficult test that requires them to know and be able to navigate 25,000 different city streets.
“Only half of the prospective cabbies who take this test pass it. Those that do pass have larger hippocampi – the part of the brain that corresponds with spatial processing – than those who fail.
“Yet it isn’t that the drivers started out with better spatial processing; instead, as they studied for the test, their hippocampi became larger as they learned more.”
Prof Dolan, who is a government advisor on how to make the population more contented, and author of the book Happiness By Design, claims that many of the things people believe will make them happy are fleeting and can actually alter their lives in a negative way.
“Most things we think will make us happy won’t,” he said “We’re really always happier if we are focussing on the person we are with and the thing we are doing right now. So make that something you enjoy.
“You should listen to music that you like listening to. That has a substantial effect on your mood. Your brain literally lights up. There is no other stimulation like music to arouse the brain.”
The research was published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

Protect the heart with the right exercise

Your daily half-hour exercise session might not be enough to keep your heart healthy, according to a new meta-analysis published in the journal Circulation.

After analyzing the exercise habits of almost 400,000 people from 12 studies, the researchers discovered that those who followed the recommended guideline of working out for 30 minutes a day only lowered their risk for heart failure by 10 percent—what they described as just a “modest” reduction.  
But people who worked out for an hour cut their odds almost 20 percent. 
And those who found the time to sweat it out for two hours a day? They slashed their risk by 35 percent. 
That’s fantastic—if you have two hours a day to work out. But in reality, it’s hard enough to find the time to exercise each day, let alone for multiple hours in a row. 
So here’s what you can do instead: Make your short workouts harder. (For 6 week’s worth of high-intensity interval routines that take only 30 minutes to do, try The Anarchy Workout.)
While the researchers didn't specifically look at intensity in the study, they believe performing 30 minutes of intervals—like sprints—can be more effective in protecting against heart failure than doing a moderate workout—like a jog—for the same amount of time, says lead study author Ambarish Pandey, M.D., a cardiology fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
Here’s why: Interval training—workouts that alternate between high-intensity effort and lower-intensity effort—causes your heartrate to stay up for short bouts of time and then go back down over and over again.
This “up-and-down” format is what ultimately strengthens yourheart. That’s because it forces the muscle to work harder than if it had to consistently maintain the same steady beats per minute.
And at the end of the day, a strong heart is one of the most important factors in decreasing your risk of heart failure—which occurs when the muscle gets too weak to pump enough blood through your body, says Men’s Health cardiology advisor Prediman Krishan Shah, M.D.
What counts as “high intensity?” When rating your perception of how hard you’re working on a scale of 1 to 10, a high-intensity movement generally clocks in at a 7 or higher, says Men’s Health fitness director BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S.
You should be working as hard or as fast as you possibly can.
Another way to measure it: Your heart rate should hit 160 beats per minute or higher at the end of each work interval, Gaddour says. 
You don’t need to crank up the intensity every single workout, though. Adding small amounts of moderate exercise throughout the day—like taking extra walks after lunch and dinner—will increase your training time and decrease your risk of heart failure. 
And if you can only swing 30 minutes of moderate exercise? 
Don’t think if you can’t do two hours or go all-out during your training, you shouldn’t bother, Dr. Pandey says. “The benefits of exercise are dose dependent, so anything is better than nothing,” 
While this particularly study only focused on heart failure risk, other evidence shows that moderate exercise is great for preventing coronary artery disease (CAD)—the most common type of heartdisease that occurs when a blocked artery leads to a heart attack, and can commonly lead to heart failure—by lowering major risk factors like high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol, explains Dr. Shah. 

Extra sleep or Exercise.

That alarm hits at 6 a.m. and you have a choice: smash the snooze button or get up and get your workout in. What should you do? 
Science hasn't given us a solid answer on this yet. 
As there are only 24 hours in a day, it’s no wonder that we often feel pressed to choose between just a little more sleep or exercise when it comes to the few precious hours we have to ourselves. But for your health and happiness, you need to be getting enough sleep and fitting in exercise several times a week -- you know, between work, family, friends and all the rest of your myriad responsibilities. 
Considering how common this conundrum is, it’s surprising how few studies there are on the issue. Christopher Kline, an exercise and sleep researcher at University of Pittsburgh’s Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, has long wanted to conduct a long-term experiment that could tell us what the health effects would be of displacing a bit of sleep for exercise -- or skipping exercise for more sleep. But given the lack of research, Kline says there’s no clear answer on the issue. 
The only studies available to work with are correlational studies that can only suggest relationships -- not cause and effect -- between certain behaviors (such as sleep, light exercise, moderate and vigorous exercise and sedentary time) and certain health outcomes.

The case for more sleep (or at least more snooze button)

"A couple of studies that have looked at the day-to-day relationships between exercise and sleep in adults have found that better sleep is associated with greater exercise behavior the next day, but in these same studies exercise is rarely associated with better sleep the subsequent night,” Kline explained.
In other words, it makes sense that being more energized ups your chances of getting in a good workout the next day, but studies suggest that this doesn't necessarily lead to a virtuous cycle of satisfying sleep and regular exercise.  

The case for just putting on those sneakers and pushing through

The most convincing research to date on this topic uses what’s known as “isotemporal substitution modeling,” according to Kline, in which researchers statistically analyze data on large cohorts of people to see what the effects of substituting one activity for another would be on their health. 
This 2013 study of over 2,000 people, for instance, finds that switching 30 minutes of sleep with either moderate or vigorous physical activity was linked to health outcomes associated with better cardiovascular health: A smaller waist, higher levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), lower levels of triglycerides, or fat in the blood, and lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
Interestingly, it also found that switching sleep for 30 minutes of sedentary behavior (say, watching TV or using a computer) was also linked to lower insulin levels and better regulation of insulin release. So in that case, the data suggests that if you're choosing between just one more “Masters of None” episode on Netflix or sleep, you should choose sleep. 
A similar study of over 200,000 middle aged people, published in 2015, found that if you slept less than seven hours, replacing one hour of walking or exercise with one hour of sleep was linked to a seven percent greater mortality risk. And if you slept more than seven hours, swapping exercise for sleep was linked to an 18 percent greater risk.

It's a tie, but exercise has an edge

Given these two studies, Kline said there was no clear answer. But if he had to choose, he would tentatively select 30 minutes of exercise over 30 more minutes of sleep, assuming that he's getting a decent amount of rest (six to eight hours per night), and that the amount of sleep he gets is enough to keep him going throughout the day. 
And remember: While it might seem that Kline is prioritizing exercise over sleep, note that he'd only choose exercise if the amount of sleep he'd get was a healthy one for him. To make sure your sleep is the best it could be, check out these tips on how to have the best sleep ever
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"Ask Healthy Living" is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical advice.

Cool! Makeup color for fair skin

When a makeup artist notes "femme fatale" as an inspiration, the result is normally pretty predictable: heavy eyeliner and a red lip. But Nick Barose doesn't play by the beauty rules. (To wit: He's the man normally behind Lupita Nyong'o's show-stoppingly bright makeup.) Which is exactly why we had to check in with him for all the details on actress Krysten Ritter's soft, yet still dramatic, beauty look at the New York series premiere party for her new project, Jessica Jones.

Instead of using the usual shades, Barose selected soft colors that are perfectly suited for the actress' fair complexion. "Winged liner and bold lips is a classic film noir combination, but the unusual, dark-amethyst tone of the lips adds modern edge to it," Barose told us. Here, he gives us all the details. 
After applying Ritter's foundation (Cle de Peau Foundation in O 10, if you were curious), Barose dusted her T-zone with translucent powder. Then, he reached for Shu Uemura Tint in Gelato in Street Rose 04, applying the color to just the apples of her cheeks.

"The eye look is dramatic, but not complicated," Barose told us. "I used a black gel liner on her upper lash line, then added a bit of shimmery, pewter-gray eyeshadow on the outer corners of her eyes." (Barose used Urban Decay's Super Saturated Liner andGucci's Mono Shadow in Anthracite.) Two coats of mascara finished Ritter's eyes.

"The lipstick is my favorite dark color this fall," Barose says about this Dolce & Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick in Amethyst. He applied one coat, and then used the brand's Lip Liner in Desire 14to deepen the outline of Ritter's lips.