Fast lane to Gaining Strength…

Some of us enjoy going to the gym and have no problem spending at least 50 minutes exercising. There are others who have made weight training a part of their lives simply because they feel it is necessary for a healthy living plan. For some who find it difficult allotting time for the gym it may not be necessary to spend as many minutes as you think. A study done at Lehman College in the Bronx and reported in the August issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise offers some new information. The study involved 34 fit young men. All had experience in resistance training. They were divided into 3 groups. The first group spent 70 min. completing 5 reps of each exercise. The second group spent 40 min. finishing 3 sets and the last group spent 13 brisk minutes performing each exercise quickly and to the point of failure (physically unable to perform another repetition). After 8 weeks and 3 sessions a week all were tested. All three groups had gained the same amount of strength. The difference was in muscle size. Whatever your goal is, gaining muscle or just supporting the health of your bones, resistance training can have significant benefits regardless of the amount of time you spend at the gym.

Are we Born Lazy?

Few of us exercise regularly even though we have been told time and time again of its benefits. Are we meant to be physically inactive? Physiologists, psychologists and health practitioners have been baffled by the fact that even though a person has the best intentions of beginning an exercise routine how easily they can be swayed to do the opposite. To find out what was going on in our brain, scientists recruited 29 men and women who expressed a desire to be active and yet never were. All were fitted with caps containing electrodes. They were seated in front of a computer screen and given their own avatar. They had the choice of moving the avatar toward an action figure or one resting. Although most of them moved toward the action figure, their brain scans showed that it took more of an effort to do so. The results may relate to the fact the our ancestors would remain quiet and rested whenever they could so as to keep a reserve of energy when food was scarce. Our brains may still be predisposed to having us remain inactive. This, of course, is no excuse since we no longer have to hunt for our food.

What a Brain on that One…

Our brains are made up of 60% fat. It is the organ in the body composed of the most fat. It is important to feed your brain and body good healthy fats to stabilizes the cell walls of the brain. It was formerly believed that brain functions decline as we age. New studies such as the one done at Harvard University show that arithmetic skills peak at 50 and that cumulative intelligence (all the facts we have learned in life) peak at 70. A fallacy is that the size of a person’s brain increases intelligence and that a person’s IQ is permanent. However, IQ can go up or down at different stages in our life. The brain has extreme plasticity which means just as a person can adapt to a missing limb so to can the brain adapt to a damaged section. Problem solving, judgement and complex planning do not fully develop in the frontal cortex until age 25 which is why teenagers can sometimes make irrational decisions. The brain itself feels no pain. It is the nerves and blood vessels surrounding it that have to be deadened during surgery. The brain is wired to make neural connections with others which is why good friends often enjoy the same activities and musicians can form such a tight union. The neurons in your brain produce enough energy to light a 20 watt bulb daily. It is faster then any computer and messages are sent from the arms and legs at 150 MPH. How do we keep the brain healthy? Is there a way to strengthen the capacity of this organ? Research is showing that healthy gut bacteria, sex, vacations, laughter, exercise, healthy eating and meditation are important factors.

Mushrooms to the rescue for the Bees…

Mushrooms contain a powerful micronutrient ergothioneine. This is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which can aid in building a strong immune system. Now it seems that mushrooms may also be the remedy to address what is placing our bee population at risk of extinction. Since the 1980’s microscopic mites that have migrated from outside the US have been one of the reasons for the decrease in our bee population. They found their way into Florida and Wisconsin where they began to destroy hives. Varroa destructor is a parasite mite that carries a virus responsible for shriveled wings on bees. According to a study published in Scientific Reports a journal published by Nature, mushrooms may be the remedy to weaken this virus. Extracts from the tissue of the common wood conk mushrooms known as the Red Reishi and Amadou are known for their antiviral properties and have been responsible for reducing the virus in bee colonies. The extract of these mushrooms is added to sugar water to attract the bees. Mycology which is the study of fungi, has stated that there are over 140,000 types of mushrooms and most are not named or their potential known. In the future they may not only save the bees but us as well.