Exercise protects against brain shrinkage in old age

To all of you out there, who are trying to stay mentally sharp well into high age: Throw out all of your brain training software or videogames such as memory activities.  You are just wasting time, at least according to a recently published study in the Journal Neurology of the American Academy of Neurology. Instead, start running, biking, swimming, hiking or whatever kind of physical exercise you may prefer. The study showed that only physical activities were a significant neuroprotective factor.

Close to 700 people in Scotland, all born in 1936 and 70 years old when initially surveyed by the researchers participated at the study. They were asked about exercise habits and physical activity level, and also about their social life with friends and family or whether they did mentally stimulating activities.

Three years later, at age 73, the participants were given MRI brain scans. The result was that those, who did more exercise had less age related brain shrinkage and fewer white matter lesions. Participation at socially or mentally stimulating activities on the other hand didn’t make a difference in regards to the aging effect on brain size.

In conclusion, there seems to be no way around it: If we want to stay physically and mentally healthy as long as possible, exercise is the method of choice.

For me, these are expected but not necessarily welcome news. I don’t enjoy working-out and exercise though I’m regularly running 15 to 20 miles per week even in winter. I started a few years ago when age-related weight and health issues became bothersome. As I found out, it’s tough to completely change your lifestyle when you are already over 50 but with self-control and motivation, it’s doable.

It’s much easier when you have outside support and this is where a life coach can really be of tremendous assistance. A life coach will help you to set the right goals and develop a plan with you how to achieve these goals. There are many things to consider: for example don’t set the goal too high to prevent disappointment but high enough to be challenging. Also, if you add roughly three hours of exercise time per week as recommended, where do you find the time in your schedule? What would you be willing to give up to free time for exercise? How could you incorporate physical activities in your daily schedule like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the post office or mowing the lawn and raking the leaves yourself instead of hiring a company? A life coach will also cheer you on and celebrate your victories with you. I’m a life-coach and psychologist myself and I know I couldn’t have done the change from a couch-potato lifestyle to running a 10 k  without using my professional knowledge for my own benefit .

This being said, it’s a nice sunny and moderately cold November day outside and I will go now for my daily run.

This post was written by Christiane Turnheim. Christiane is life-coach at Coach4U.net and teaches psychology at a community college in Massachusetts. Email her for a free introductory coaching session at <http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=TFxhMl9hegRUEzw-2BaGNBbmF-2FHAt-2BAmJFRDc-3D_19> .

More about the topic exercise: http://www.coach4u.net/content/healthy_lifestyle_coaching/#entry_675

Sources for the blog entry: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121022162331.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29


Eight Steps To More Optimism

 “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate” (Thomas Watson). “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” (Winston Churchill)

There are many quotes and inspiring stories about optimism, perseverance and how failures ultimately turned into successes. Just think for a minute about Abraham Lincoln’s political career. I think nobody questions that he was a very successful politician up to becoming president. Still, there were several setbacks in his career where he ran for office in congress or senate and didn’t make it – but he never gave up.

Inventor Thomas Edison spent countless of hours on the development of the carbonized cotton-thread filament for the incandescent light bulb. When a reporter asked him about the failures, Edison supposedly answered “I didn’t fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.” (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/National_Treasure_(film) )

Most of us would have given up earlier or not even started the endeavor.

Why some people are willing to embark on a long journey toward a difficult goal and others don’t even try is a question many psychologists would like to answer. There is evidence that genes play a role and some people are simply born more optimistic than others. However, there is also evidence that optimism can be learned, which is good news as this means we all can take steps to increase optimism.

Eight steps to increase optimism:

  1. Don’t wait for life to happen. Set a goal and also define subgoals to mark progress toward your ultimate goal. Then make an action plan to implement your goal.
  2. Celebrate milestones, for example when you reach a subgoal.
  3. If there are setbacks, don’t give up immediately on your goal. Focus on  ways to overcome setbacks and remind yourself how far you have come already..
  4. At the end of each day, recall positive events of the day. Find three things that you are grateful for that they happened. This can be mundane things like finding a parking spot quickly.
  5. Surround yourself with positive and optimistic people. Over time you will learn from others to see the glass as half full.
  6. Make sure that you do every day something just for fun. As more positive experiences you have, as more will you enjoy your life.
  7. Exercise regularly. Studies show that physical activity acts like a natural antidepressant.
  8. And last, but not least: Team up with a life coach to have someone who gently pushes you forward toward your goal, keeps you on track, is your cheerleader and sounding board, and helps you to overcome obstacles on your way to success. You will be amazed what a life coach can do for you!

 Written by Christiane Turnheim. Christiane is a professional life and career coach in Massachusetts and teaches psychology at a community college in the Boston area. She is author of the e-workbook “Job Satisfaction – Learn To Love Your Job”  . Email her at c<http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=R0Z6KFh8cgtfNh8yZmFKMiAkXABvYkVENw-3D-3D_19>

It’s all about the right motivation

Happiest country in world: High employment and work-life balance

What defines a happy country? Apparently not just income and wealth because then the United States would be the happiest country in the world – but Denmark is the happiest country, as measured by the OECD – Your Better Life Index. This index profiles the current 34 OECD member nations across a wide range of categories including education, health, employment, sense of community, safety, citizen’s wealth and life expectancy.  Among the top 10 happiest countries are also Norway, Austria, Israel, Canada and Australia.

The United States didn’t make it into the top 10, but overall life satisfaction is higher than in most other OECD countries. While the US scored highest in regards to wealth and housing quality, work-life balance could be better: People in the US work more as the OECD average and have less leisure time. Just one number here to make the point: about 11 % of all American employees work 50 hours and more per week. In Denmark the happiest country, not even 2 % work that much.

Read the full report at: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/united-states/

Is Happiness and Success mostly based on Genes?

The nature or nurture discussion goes on: A new study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland involving 800 sets of twins provides evidence that the impact of genes may be stronger than previously thought. Earlier studies had already shown that many personality characteristics are at least partially inborn. According to the new study, genetics however have a significatly stronger impact on traits, such as decision making, self-control, or sociability, than environmental influences. The researchers conclude that “genetically influenced characteristics could well be the key to how successful a person is in life.”

Well, I think even if there is a relatively strong genetic influence on happiness, people still can make a difference in their lives. Let’s take for example self-control as this was a mentioned trait in the research study. Of course, someone born with strong self-control may not be prone to  impulsively say or do something that they will later regret, but this doesn’t mean that someone born with weaker self control can’t learn. For them, self-control just doesn’t come as easy.

Read more about the study at http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/all-news/genes-150512

Written by Christiane Turnheim. Christiane is psychologist and life coach. She is also the author of the job satisfaction e-workbook “Learn to Love your Job”

Gifts that spread Joy and Happiness

Most of us don’t really need another sweater or new electronic gadget.  This even applies to gift cards. According to estimates, on average, American households have about $300 worth of unredeemed cards. So, what to give?

Research shows that money can buy happiness when we spend the money on experiences such as a vacation or  a fun night out with friends.

How about giving such “experiences” as holiday gift? Here are a few examples:

  • Dinner at a fancy restaurant
  • Movie night
  • Weekend trip
  • Spa visit
  • Girls night out
  • Theatre, museum or concert tickets
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Scuba diving trip
  • Ski lift tickets
  • Workshop (Job related or Self-Improvement)
  • Coaching sessions
  • Membership in a Club
  • Self-Help books ( such as my book about Job Satisfaction)

Posted by Christiane. You can reach her at  <http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=TFxhMl9hegRUEzw-2BaGNBbmF-2FHAt-2BAmJFRDc-3D_19>




How much stuff do you need for happiness?

Are you getting ready for Black Friday? Before you join in the frenzy of holiday gift buying, just consider for a minute the results of a legendary research study.

In 1978 researchers presented a sample of adults a list of 24 big-ticket items such as a car, travel, a house, and so on. They were asked how many of these items they already possessed and which things on the list were part of having “the good life” as they would define it. 16 years later, in 1994, the same people were interviewed again with the same questions and presented with the same list.

Result: In 1978, the study participants felt that “the good life” would require having more things than they possessed at that time. Those in their twenties had in average 1.7 things from the list but thought they needed 4.4 items for “the good life”. 16 years later, the participants had more objects acquired (3.1 items in average) and thus were closer to their original wishes, but now they thought they needed even more stuff (in average 5.6 items) to have a “good life”.

In summary, having more possessions didn’t really change the difference between “Have already” and “Want to Have”, leading to the conclusion: The More We Have, The More We Want.

If you want to know what to give for Christmas that actually could increase happiness, stay tuned. Next time, I will write about “Gifts that spread Joy and Happiness”.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christiane Turnheim is a Life& Career Coach and a psychology teacher at a Community College in the Boston area. You can reach her at <http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=TEBmKUJ9dgxXNh8yZmFKMiAkXABvYkVENw-3D-3D_19>.

Happiness: Respect, Income, Personal Freedom, Friends and Family

Can money buy happiness?

An old question about which many books are written. To a certain degree, money is certainly important for happiness. Living in poverty is definitely no fun: If you have to worry day and night how to pay for rent and  groceries,  it’s difficult to enjoy life. On the other hand, being wealthy is not equivalent to being happy – countless stories about with life struggling celebrities in the tabloid press may serve here as confirmation.

A worldwide Gallup survey shed now more light on the most important factors, which make up happiness and the role of money.

According to the Gallup World Poll (136,000 people in 132 countries participated), life satisfaction and enjoyment of life are the two main components of happiness.

Life satisfaction, defined as the feeling that life goes well, increased with rising personal and national income. Hence, money is an important factor for satisfaction. However, the other component, life enjoyment defined as positive day-to-day feelings, depended also on other factors, such as feeling connected to other people, having personal freedom and feeling respected.

Original report here

Big Smile – Long Life

I just discovered a new reason to love the laugh lines and creases around my eyes: They may be a sign that I will enjoy a long life.

According to recently published research study, people who have big smiles in which also the corner of their eyes move live longer.

The way, how the study was done, may seem a bit unusual: Researchers at the Wayne State University in Michigan categorized 230 pictures of players from the 1952 Baseball register based on smile intensity: big smile, no smile, partial smile. They then compared the three categories with data from deaths and accounted for other factors that are related to longevity, such as body mass index or education. At the time of the study 184 of the 230 players had died.

The researchers found that players with a big smile lived in average 7 years longer as players who didn’t smile on their pictures. (79.9 years for big smiles versus 72.9 for no-smiles).

So – smile a lot and you live longer? Seriously?

The researchers say YES and offer an explanation: Our facial expressions reflect our emotions. We smile to express positive emotions. Also other studies have proven that positive emotions are related to better mental and physical health. People who smile often are more likely to have stable personalities and marriages, and also better relationships with other people.

The author, Christiane Turnheim, is psychologist and life-coach. Visit her website www.coach4u.net

or email to <http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=TFxhMl9hegRUEzw-2BaGNBbmF-2FHAt-2BAmJFRDc-3D_19>

Negative stereotypes about getting old may shorten your lifespan

Do you think that getting old is equivalent to getting forgetful, physically weak and dependent on others? If yes, think again – in your own interest.

According to recent research, people who expressed negative stereotypes about aging when they were younger had a higher risk 30 years later to suffer from serious health and memory problems. They even lived on average 7.5 years shorter compared to those with a more positive attitude about getting old.

Scientists are of course trying to find out what is causing this link between stereotypes and health effects.

It could be that the principles of self-fulfilling prophesies are here at work. If you believe that you will lose cognitive skills like memory as you get older, you may stay away from tasks involving those skills.  Consequently, as the old adage goes, “use it or lose it” you are then losing these skills.

Christiane is psychologist and Life & Career coach. Contact her at <http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=TFxhMl9hegRUEzw-2BaGNBbmF-2FHAt-2BAmJFRDc-3D_19>