Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

Muscle Memory, but Not the Kind You Think

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

The stereotypes of the “nerd” and the “dumb jock” are some of the most pervasive in the media. The nerd is so un-athletic he might hurt himself walking to class, and the jock spends more time in the gym than in the library. While these stereotypes may be well known, the importance of exercise and health has increased over the last decade. Not only does exercise improve short-term mental concentration and mood by the release of endorphins, it is also being studied for long-term benefits. Even mainstream media has commented on exercise benefits, for example in the movie legally blonde displayed in figure 1.

Quote from Legally Blonde (2001) movie

Figure 1. Quote from Legally Blonde (2001) movie

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Categories: Aging, Memory Tags: ,

Getting Old Doesn’t Need to be Scary!

November 19th, 2015 No comments

Do you worry about what will happen to your body as you get older? Do you envision your brain slowing down and your grandkids speaking realllyy slllowwlyyy so you can understand them?

Cognitive functioning—which includes attention (allotting mental resources to notice something), memory (the process of encoding, storing, and retrieving information), and executive functioning (a broad term for the system that regulates many cognitive processes)—tends to decrease with age. However, one of the many benefits of exercise is that it has been shown to improve cognitive functioning. And for many older adults, general fitness as it relates to health is a primary concern. But some forms of exercise can be harmful or painful for older adults who have joint pain. So what kind of exercise and how much exercise should older adults get in order to stay physically and mentally healthy?

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What’s the number to 9-1-1? A study on inattentional blindness and how exercise helps.

November 21st, 2014 7 comments

Girl Falls in Mall Water Fountain While Texting:

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 1.59.08 PM

([wtfhub], 2011)

Watch the video above.  Notice the woman falling flat on her face?  Psychologists refer to instances, such as this epic camera-caught face-plant, as results of inattentional blindness.  Inattentional blindness refers to an individual’s failure to notice unexpected objects or events when she is focusing her attention on something else (Kellog, 2007).  The widely accepted attenuation model of selective attention provides evidence for inattentional blindness.  According to the attenuation model of selective attention, a person who does not attend to an object in her visual field likely does not perceive that object due to an attenuation filter.  The attenuation filter functions to turn down the signal intensity from unattended stimuli in the environment while letting attended stimuli pass through it onto a perceptual channel, resulting in conscious awareness of the stimuli a person attends to (Kellog, 2007). In this video, the woman clearly was not paying attention to the fountain within her field of vision, so the information regarding the fountain in her sensory memory was tuned out via the attenuation filter, and the presence of the fountain never reached her conscious awareness.

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Categories: Attention Tags:

The Secret Behind Steve Jobs’ “Walking Meetings”

November 18th, 2014 3 comments

Have you ever taken part in a “walking meeting”? People who work closely with Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, arguably two of the most successful and innovative people of our time, have probably experienced these on a regular basis. Both of these influential people are known for frequently having important business meetings while walking outside. They certainly have enough building space to hold a meeting inside, so why do they do this? Have they noticed something about walking that helps them think differently than if they were sitting in a meeting room? Walking is known to be beneficial for our physical health, but what about its effect on our cognitive functioning?

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Can Variability In Concussion Testing Really Tell Us Something Important?

May 1st, 2014 No comments


In the past decade, the negative consequences of traumatic brain injuries, more commonly referred to as concussions, have become highly publicized. Once brushed off as an innocent hit to the head, concussions are now taken much more seriously. Although concussions can occur for many reasons, due to their frequency, sports related concussions have become the target of concern. It is estimated that among the 38 million children and adolescents and 170 million adults participate in athletic activities in the US, there are as many as 3.8 million mild traumatic brain injuries that occur each year. Many of these go untreated (Giza et al., 2013).

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Categories: Attention Tags: , ,

Mountaineering Mind Games: What role does Altitude really play?

Ever dreamt of climbing to the roof of the world?  Visions of standing atop Everest?  I recommend reading Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.  It will test your commitment to the dream.  In Krakauer’s tragically relevant first-hand account of the 1996 disaster on Everest, in which 8 people perished in a blizzard, he discusses at length the games altitude plays with the mind at very high elevations. Krakauer suggests, as many have, that the cause of the high mortality rates during the blizzard that afflicted their expedition were in part due to the madness induced by altitude. With the recent tragedy on the same peak, in which 16 high-altitude workers died in an avalanche, we are reminded of the many dangers of climbing the world’s highest peaks.

Gen. Mountaineer

Just as calling the Spelling Bee a sport seems to degrade the term sport, calling Mountaineering a sport degrades Mountaineering in its own way.

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Categories: Attention Tags:

Does Type of Exercise Matter in Terms of Benefits for Working Memory?

April 27th, 2014 2 comments

It has never been a secret that consistent exercise is one of the keys to living a balanced, reduced-stress, healthy lifestyle.  If you are someone who works out often, you are probably familiar with the feeling of relaxation and lowering of stress that comes after a workout.  It turns out that working out reduces emotional distress and provides resilience to stress and physical exercise plays a role in the prevention of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, depression, and hypertension among others.  Basically, an increase in physical activity and exercise results in an improvement in general status of health.  In general, the more physical exercise done, the greater the health benefits for the individual.


    Researchers at the University of Illinois were interested in comparing the health benefits, specifically on working memory, of differing forms of exercise.  The two forms of exercise the researchers were interested in were acute aerobic physical exercise and resistance exercise.  Read more…

Categories: Memory Tags: ,

Why A Gym Partner is Good for the Body and Mind

November 29th, 2013 10 comments

Do you ever find it tough to motivate yourself to lace up those sneakers and hit the gym or the trail for a run?  Does it make it easier when you have a friend pushing you to join them?  I know for me, if the weather isn’t perfect, there’s no way I’m leaving my room unless someone else is already dressed and ready to go.  Exercising with others may be more beneficial than just helping you get off the couch, with even stronger effects as we age.

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Categories: Aging Tags: ,

The Effects of Running a Marathon on Memory

April 29th, 2013 5 comments

nyc-marathonRegular exercise is known to have many advantages.  In addition to the obvious physical benefits such as reducing the risks of heart disease and obesity, it can also benefit the brain.  Regular aerobic exercise releases endorphins, a naturally occurring opiate, to improve an athlete’s mood.  It also increases cognitive function in healthy adults, including improved working memory and executive functioning (Guiney & Machado, 2013).   Marathon running, however, is above and beyond typical regular aerobic exercise; it is considered the ultimate test of fitness.   The marathon always concludes the Olympic games, seeming to symbolize the pinnacle of athleticism. But to complete a marathon, runners put their bodies through the ringer.  They run more mileage than the human body was probably ever designed to run, all in preparation for the 26.2-mile race.  Though regular exercise has positive effects on both the body and the mind, could running a marathon actually be too much exercise?  Beyond sore muscles, marathon runners often experience tendonitis, torn muscles and ligaments, sprains, stress fractures, shin splints, and other injuries.  But might there also be negative cognitive effects of running a marathon?

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