Quality Home Health Care

How the Brain Benefits From Hiking

Many people already know and understand the many positive benefits the mind, body and soul can all gain from their hiking through the forest but recently there has been more good news released to them. a walk in the woodRecent scientific studies conducted have now shown us the positive effect hiking also has on the brain as well, being able to change it for the better!

Most of those who take the time to hike in nature can understand that special feeling of contentment and calm that they enjoy so much are now also learning how their efforts can in fact reduce rumination as well. So many of us understand and realize how we can be consumed by negative thoughts and how these can negatively effect us when they are happening and even worse, can lead to severe issues with anxiety and depression moving forward. The recent good news furnished in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recent survey points out their findings that one can significantly decrease any negative, obsessive thoughts by spending more time in nature.

One of the interesting components of this study had researchers compare the reported rumination of those participants hiking through a natural environment versus those hiking through an urban one. The good news for those walking in a natural environment for 90 minutes or more was lower levels of rumination and also in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a reduced neural activity. the subgenual prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain which relates to any mental illness symptoms. On the other hand, no decreased rumination was reported on those who conducted their walk through the urban environment.

It was also pointed out by the researchers just how increased urbanization correlates closely with different mental illnesses and increased instances of depression. These reports all show just how spending more time out in nature and getting ourselves away from the urban settings, can greatly benefit not just our psychological well-being, but our physical health as well.

Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer conducted a study that showed how reconnecting with nature and disconnecting from technology can and will drastically improve creative problem solving. In this study, participants, for about 4 days, backpacked through nature and were forbidden to employ any technology at all. They were then asked to perform various tasks that required complex problem solving and creative thinking on their part. The net results researchers found for those taking part in this tech-free hiking excursion is that by 50% their performance on problem solving tasks improved!

In this study, the researchers noted and pointed out how both urban noise and technology can constantly demand our attention, be incredibly disruptive and certainly keep us from focusing properly and how these all can play havoc with our cognitive functions. On the other hand, taking a nice long hike with no technology interrupting can and will soothe the mind, reduce all mental fatigue and unquestionably boost one’s creative thinking.

A problem becoming more and more common in children is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD). The children that have it easily get distracted, have a difficult time with staying focused and with impulse control and also exhibit excessive hyperactivity.

While it certainly can be difficult for parents raising children that have ADHD, the typical solution which is to opt for prescription medicine, might actually not be the best choice to make, especially when there are natural solutions which will work just as well. In a study conducted by Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD and Frances E Kup, PhD, it was shown how exposing to “green outdoor activities” those children who have ADHD, their symptoms will reduce significantly! This study’s results point out the benefit of exposure to nature that are there for anyone that exhibits impulsive behavior, or anyone that has trouble paying attention.

We already understand how our overall well-being is enhanced by exercise. Between 400-700 calories will be burned hourly by our hiking. And depending on the hike difficulty and one’s size, hiking is far easier on the joints then say running might be. In addition, hiking is a great choice to become and stay active on a consistent basis as it has been proven how those who get started doing it will invariably continue to stick with doing it.

University of British Columbia researchers have discovered how hippocampal volume, which is the part of the brain associated with episodic and spatial memory, is increase in women 70 years of age and older, through aerobic exercising. Memory loss is not only improved by such exercise but in many instances prevented all together. In addition, it has been found to also release endorphins, boost self esteem and reduce anxiety and stress! This solution to these issues certainly beats the alternative of taking medications to deal with them.

The great news is that the entire family, including the grandparents, can and will benefit from hiking. You can get started on a small basis and do what works for you as you continue to go along with it. A walk in the park is a great place to begin and you should make every effort to keep your phone turned off unless there is some sort of emergency you are possibly going to need to deal with!

Layer your clothing to adjust to the weather, bring a bottle of water with you, wear a hat and make sure you have good shoes for hiking. Get started and you will soon realize the great benefits you will be enjoying!

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How to Keep Your Brain Healthy & Sharp

keeping the brain healthy

Nurture Your Brain

The brain is one of the most important organs in the human body. It has various functions related to coordination of sensation and intellectual or nervous activity. This organ is protected by the skull which is one of the toughest parts of the human body. While most people do not realize it, the brain must be kept healthy as a way to ensure the individual remains sharp and alert at all times. Learning a few of the things that can be done to promote sound health can be key to enjoying the benefits of an optimally functioning brain.

Get Mental Stimulation

Keeping the brain busy is one of the things that can promote health. Stimulation involves mental activity. This can include things such as playing puzzle games, solving math problems, reading, drawing and painting. While these things promote health, they should not be done excessively as that may result in complications. After a long day of activity, it is equally important for you to sit back and relax.

Engage in Physical Exercise

Engaging in routine physical exercise allows the body to pump more blood to the brain. This means the amount of oxygen reaching your brain is boosted. It is worth noting that exercise allows for the formation of stronger veins and muscles which play a vital role in the distribution of nutrients to the entire body. As your body receives adequate nutrition, the skull and brain tissues are going to develop in a healthy manner. Other benefits of physical exercise include lowering of blood pressure, stress relief, prevention of diabetes and improvement of cholesterol levels.

Watch Your Diet

Consuming foods that are not considered healthy can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water or fruit juices can enhance your brain’s health. Lower calorie intake guards against mental decline during old age while consuming foods that are low in cholesterol and fats keep you from experiencing diseases or conditions that may compromise your brain’s health. Including vegetables and fruits in your diet can be a good way to stay in shape.

Avoid Tobacco and Excessive Alcohol

Tobacco increases the levels of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. This affects the pathways that control reward and pleasure systems of the brain. Tobacco also affects other parts of the body including the lungs and may cause complications to the respiratory system. Excessive alcohol has often been associated with development of dementia which is a disorder of the brain. Consuming too much alcohol may also cause individuals to become addicted to the substance meaning they will no longer be able to use their brain in a productive manner but rather spend most of their time drinking. A limited amount of alcohol on the other hand can promote a healthy brain.

Keep Your Head Protected

Any form of head injury can result in complications of the brain which is why you must ensure it is protected at all times. If you are working at a construction site, wear a helmet at all times. Driving with the seat-belt on is key to protecting the head in case of bumps or accidents. Keep in mind that head injuries are some of the most common causes of brain impairments.

Watch Your Blood Pressure

Individuals that experience high blood pressure are at an enhanced risk of suffering from cognitive decline in old age. This is why it is vital for you to ensure your lifestyle promotes healthy blood pressure. Staying lean and engaging in regular exercise can be key to maintaining good blood pressure.

Get Treated for Diseases and Disorders

When experiencing a health-related complication such as disease or disorder, it is prudent to seek medical care as soon as possible. Some of these diseases or conditions can easily spread to other parts of the body including the brain. An example of a disease that may cause serious damage to the brain is cancer. Visiting a health expert even when you only suspect a complication can be all it takes to guard your brain from serious issues.

Organize Your Finances

Poor planning of fiances is another common cause of mental depression. Having a well thought out plan of management will help keep you from experiencing constant stress which can easily lead to bad habits such as drug or alcohol abuse. Invest money in ventures that are low risk while saving up some cash for future use.

Socialize and Have Fun

One of the easiest ways for you to maintain good health is by socializing and just having fun. Keeping in touch with the people that provide moral or financial support unconditionally can greatly improve your overall health. Friends and relatives help you overcome new challenges and nourish your emotional needs which ultimately ensure you remain healthy.

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Seniors Staying Sharp Through Mental Exercises

For most of human history, people have simply accepted the idea that as humans age, they lose some mental capacity. Also known as senility, dementia is a serious issue in elderly populations. Modern research is changing the perception of this condition, however. Seniors are practicing mental exercise as they age in order to stay sharp.

Elderly Boca Raton Woman Out in NatureDementia is fairly broad term, describing conditions, including memory loss, word finding difficulties, and impaired judgment. These problems are caused by injury to or loss of brain cells. The rates of dementia have decreased substantially in the last 20 years to between 5% and 7% of those over 65. The severity of dementia varies between mild forgetfulness and serious Alzheimer’s disease.

There is no prescription available to stop the progression of dementia or way to completely prevent brain cell loss. Aging people can, however, practice mental exercises to improve their cognition through their senior years. There are many forms of mental exercise, but any kind of challenging brain activity can help.

There are specific programs to aid seniors in mental health. These brain training programs come in book format as well as computer programs and apps. The programs can be used alone or with friends. Playing games on these programs every day can have a noticeable impact on delaying memory loss and dementia. They can also be a lot of fun, especially for those who enjoy puzzles and word searches already.

While mind games can be fun for some, others might find them to be more of a daily chore than an enjoyment. It may be easier to incorporate mental exercise into daily activities. Memorizing a grocery list and doing math in one’s head are a few examples. Playing a musical instrument, learning new hobbies, and reading can also be very beneficial. The key is to perform activities that utilize all of the senses, activating different parts of the brain.

Another great way for seniors to exercise their minds is through travel. A change in environment makes a big difference. This might be in the form of a big vacation or as simple as a walk to the park a couple of times a week. The more involved a person can be in their external experiences, the more benefit he or she will reap. For example, on a walk, a person should exercise his or her mind by noticing birds and attempting to identify them, taking note of neighborhood changes, and really engaging mentally with surroundings. The most detrimental way to age is alone in the same house with little activity or change of scenery.

There is significant research to support the theory of mental exercise to prevent or prolong the onset of dementia and mild memory loss. One study of 2,800 seniors (over 65) showed that after 6 weeks of brain training sessions, participants showed improvement in memory, reasoning, and information processing. Even more encouraging is that 5 years later, the benefits were still present. Participants also improved their abilities in everyday tasks, such as housework and money management. While studies show that dementia and Alzheimer’s cannot necessarily be prevented, mental exercise can delay their onset. This gives seniors more years of healthy brain function to enjoy.

Growing old does not have to equate losing mental sharpness. Dementia is not a condition that seniors should accept without a fight. More years of mental health means more years to celebrate life, enjoying family, friends, and activity. By taking a proactive approach, seniors can improve the quality of life for themselves and their families well into their aging years. Mental exercises can, not just help, but be a fun way to stay active and happy.

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