Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do we sit too much?

Computers are great but problem is, we don't have to expend much energy using them (says she sitting in her easy chair writing this blog)! :)

Will sitting too much kill us? Well, it depends on how much we move otherwise and all of this is very unproven, anyway although if you listen to the scare tactics in the news, you might get the impression, it's well proven! hmmm. Fact remains, even with our cars, and sitting most of the time, we today, are living decades longer than our active ancestors. Perhaps one can go too far in getting upset about lifestyle? Just make sure you get in a 30 or more minute cardio workout daily or most days, and do get up from your desk every so often but even if you don't do this, you will likely live a lot longer than your active ancestors lived. Thank modern medicine - also modern nutrition, sanitation and a myriad of factors! :) At the link below are some good suggestions that those of us who sit a lot at computers can do to help our bodies and our hearts. Of course, they emphasize the "dangers" of obesity - they missed that there are no studies which found that obesity ALONE kills - ooops...and in re-visiting this infographic (which I originally put up here because the person asking me to do so was charming - ok...not the best reasoning...anyway, in re-visiting it, I find several things on it which are either unproven or questionable. Because of that I have removed the infographic but you can still view it at the link below. I think some of the info on it may be outdated or unproven. Take-away message - if you sit at work all day, get up from your chair, once every hour or so and walk around. During lunch or breaks, take a little walk - no evidence that you will survive longer than the office chair potato (cousin of the couch potato) but at least the exercise will invigorate you and send blood to the brain etc. i.e. it's all good! :)...

See InfoGraphic at: Infographic about sitting too much and the dangers thereof

Monday, May 2, 2011

Aging musicians have sharp brains

Did you study music as a kid or are you studying it now? I've never met anyone who was sorry they studied music but I've met quite a few people who tell me that they wished they had studied music or studied it longer! (the photo is of me in my 20's - I am still playing at the age of 66!)

Besides all the other benefits of musical study, here's a new one. Two scientists who tested a group of people with several levels of musical study, found that those who had studied music the longest, also did the best on cognitive tests - the type of tests that elderly usually don't do so well on. A news article on detailed the study.

Hanna-Pladdy and Alicia McKay, then both at the University of Kansas Medical Center, enrolled 70 individuals, aged 63-80 years old, in their study. Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, clinical neuropsychologist now at Emory University and lead researcher on the study commented that :

Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging. ... Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older.
Those with over 10 years of study, functioned the best, those with 1-10 years of study functioned the second best and the ones who functioned the least well were those with no musical training. All of the cohort were about the same fitness level and none had evidenced signs of Alzheimer's disease.

The study was published in the April 2011 issue of Neuropsychology Journal.

Dr Hanna-Pladdy did point out that more research is needed because they could not make a direct connection between musical training and better cognitive skills but the study results are interesting and makes sense to me - especially that I am an aging musician!