Did you ever take an IQ test? How did you feel about the results. I expect you were told that it is what it is and there is nothing you can do about it. Right? Some people just get dealt a better hand (or in this case brain) than others. Pretty frustrating, huh?
Well, fortunately brain science has come a long way and has effectively erased a lot of those old wives tales — but not yet erased the scars of those who were given incorrect information. Don’t you find it interesting (and fun) that those arrogant, pretentious, and all-knowing scientists have to “eat crow” every now and again? It actually happens a lot — we just don’t hear about it a lot. The older I get the more I understand that science isn’t nearly as smart as they tend to believe they are.
The following infographic will give some insight on the general topic of IQ and some of the proactive steps you can make to improve your brain. And I’ll say it again, the older I get the more I recognize the need to get all the help in that department I can. Enjoy the following which was prepared and provided to us by OnlineMastersDegree.com.
“We found that people who were more physically active had more brain tissue nine years after the initial evaluation and a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment.” Kirk I. Erickson, PhD
All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. (Acts 3:1; NLT)
“Walking a Mile a Day Protects Brain from Effects of Aging.” I just discovered that headline and found it noteworthy. I also thought our readers might want to know this little tidbit too. Every week I hear friends and clients talk about their lack of memory or mental clarity. “I won’t remember that.” Or, “I forgot!” are common phrases we all hear (and say) each and every day.
An Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology of the University of Pittsburgh named Kirk Erickson wrote a paper entitled, “Physical activity predicts gray matter volume in late adulthood: The Cardiovascular Health Study.” The Neurology journal published his work in the fall of 2010.
Dr. Erickson collected data on about 300 people between the ages of 60 and 65 years of age about their activity level. After nine years, MRI exams were done looking for evidence of brain atrophy. Four years later, more examinations were done looking for evidence of mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
They discovered that people who were more physically active had more brain tissue nine years after the initial evaluation and a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment! Folks, that’s impressive!
They also learned that the protective effects of the brain came to those who walked at least 1 mile a day or about 6 to 9 miles per week. So, how does walking help to protect your brain from premature aging?
Dr. Erickson says, “We get a lot of our information about how this works from animal studies. Many studies in animals find that exercise increases the total number of cells in the brain, increases the amount of blood circulating to the brain, and increases the number of connections that the cells make to one another. This makes for a more efficient, more interconnected, and more nutrient rich environment, which results in improvements in learning and memory.”
He goes on to say that we decrease gray matter atrophy with greater amounts of exercise. And we also reduce our risk of cognitive impairment the more we exercise. So, rather than search for a magic pill or potion to prevent our brains from aging prematurely, perhaps going for a brisk walk several days a week is a better investment.
Excuse me while I go for a walk!
Father, thank You for our brains! Help us to do all that we can to steward them well.
Link of the Day
Walking a Mile a Day Protects Brain from Effects of Aging
Photo by nathey4
“Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.”
How much of your day do you spend worrying?
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:34, NIV)
Over the past couple of years I (Jerry) have been spending quite a bit of time learning about how our mind works, the power of our thoughts, the importance of focus, and various and sundry related ideas. I found myself fascinated with the notion that while the one thing we have been given the power to control is our thoughts (see the command in Phil 4:8 for just one example), that is also the one thing that most of us just leave to seemingly random chance.
That’s kind of like choosing to walk when you have just been given a brand new Ferrari…or choosing to row when your boat when it has a perfectly good motor.
The above quote about worrying being a form of prayer seems almost sacrilegious, until you link it with the easily observable phenomenon that what we focus on seems to expand, grow stronger, come closer, etc.
Should it be any surprise that a good God, Who loves us unconditionally, would admonish us to “Do not be anxious about anything?” Could it be that He is not only reminding us that it is a colossal waste of time, but that it actually produces the undesired effect? Hmmm…I don’t remember reading that in the owner’s manual anywhere, do you?
This is a very interesting realization to be coming from a recovering “worry-wart.” I actually found myself worried because I couldn’t find the source of the quote I used. But, I’ve come a long way. As Andrew Wommack so quaintly says, “I haven’t arrived yet, but I’ve left.” How about you?
Lord please help us all understand at the heart-level that You really don’t want us to worry about anything. Help us to see that even in this high-stress world that we live in that Your command to not worry is no less significant or less doable than it was when Paul penned those famous words. Show us that we really can be the master of our own thoughts.
Link of the Day
Problem of Worry
Blessings as you purpose to become more and more aware of what you are thinking about.
Photo by JustUptown
“Do something every day to improve your mind — learn a new word, do an anagram puzzle, sudoku your mind, read a book, read a stimulating blog post, anything that will help your mind just a little. Just a little turns into something huge.” Steven Aitchison
When’s the last time you did a little calisthenics for your brain?
From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive. (Prov. 16:23; NLV)
It’s been almost two whole weeks since I’ve posted something about the brain or the mind. As you know this is one of my favorite topics. (It would be an interesting study to analyze why this is so, wouldn’t it?) Two weeks ago I posted “Brain Maintenance Program” in which I referenced a great blog post that listed 47 ways to tune up your brain. (If you missed that article, I encourage you to click the link and check it out.)
Onward and upward — this week, the Link of the Day lists no less than “100 Ways to Develop Your Mind.” (Actually, there are 101 as the author’s last item suggests that you always over deliver on your promises.) Again, the list is quite long, and there are some real surprises in it, but it does cause you to stop and realize that our brain is just like any other muscle and needs purposeful exercise in order to stay strong, healthy, and agile. “Use it or lose it” applies to our minds just as much as it does with any other muscle group.
I don’t recommend that you try everything on the list, nor even a majority. I propose that you use the list to generate some new ideas on ways to develop your mind. After all, it’s the only one you’ll ever have. You can’t go down to the brain store and get a replacement when the one you’ve got now fails because of misuse or lack or use. God gave you your mind for a purpose, and at the risk of repeating myself, it wasn’t to “zone out” watching TV or reading the newspaper. I’m a little disappointed that the list of 101 doesn’t include my favorite from the list of 47, i.e., Eat Dark Chocolate. So while there is some redundancy, the two lists are different in many respects.
Interestingly enough, neither list includes one of the best ways I know of to develop your brain (and spirit, for that matter), and that’s journaling. Dr. Randy Peck, whom you’ll recognize as one of the co-authors of our UNCOMMON Wellness Coaching audio series and ebook, will be starting a 4-week webinar series on journaling early next month. Keep your eye on his blog, http://journaling777.com for details or let me know that you’re interested and I’ll make sure you receive the registration details as soon as they become available.
Choose to have a magnificent week!
Father, again we thank You for the purpose or call you have on our life, and we especially thank You that You have given us the talents, skills, and mind to be able to carry out that purpose.
Link of the Day
100 Ways To Develop Your Mind
Blessings on you as you take your brain for a walk (or a jog?) today.
Photo by Mykl Roventine
“Yes, eating dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial for releasing an important brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine aids in learning and memory.” Steven Aitchison (Sorry, I couldn’t resist using that quote.)
What kind of brain maintenance program do you have?
Alcohol and prostitution have robbed my people of their brains. (Hosea 4:11; NLT)
Those of you who have been around awhile know that I have this fascination with all that has been discovered and written about with that last couple of decades about the human brain. As I mature, I am determined to do all I can do to prevent the onset of “Senior Moments.” Last week I ran across an incredible list of brain maintenance suggestions on a blog post which I am including as today’s link.
Actually, it’s a fairly long list of activities, but the whole list can be read in just a few minutes. The Idea is not to do them them all, but to pick out a few of your favorites and do them with a measure of consistency. But you will note that veggin’ in front of the household Cyclops did not make the list.
It’s a fun list to read, and there are some pleasant surprises on it. So, even if you’re not facing senior momentitis in the near future, it will be a very good investment of your time to look over the list. I predict you’ll be glad you did.
Father, we are so grateful for our incredible brains — and even more grateful that You are revealing ways that we can keep it at peak performance.
Link of the Day
47 Ways to Fine Tune Your Brain
Blessings on you as you begin your brain maintenance program today!
Photo by The B-roll
“There is more information in one Sunday edition of a big city newspaper than the average person took in during their entire life 200 years ago.” Jonathan Wells
How many hours of sleep do you get each night on average?
Suddenly, a terrible storm came up, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. (Matt. 8:24; NLT)
I was doing a little research to supplement our final wellness class today. The topic is rest — the sixth (and final) key factor to wellness as outlined by our UNCOMMON Wellness Coaching ebook. I found a couple of blog posts which had some fascinating and little known facts about sleep. I’ve included both posts as Links of the Day, but what follows is a gleaning of some of the more interesting facts from the two posts.
During sleep our brain is, in fact, extraordinarily active. As it turns out, much of that activity helps the brain to learn and remember. There is a consolidation process that brain goes through while we are asleep that helps us restore what was forgotten during the day. During sleep, the brain selectively preserves certain emotionally charged memories and discards others. Finally, the brain replays the events of the day allowing us to firmly establish the order of those events. Makes me wonder if one can “program” their brain as to which memories to keep and which to discard?
After first learning a task or process, our performance of that task will almost always improve after sleep. Maybe the brain is practicing? This finding leads some to speculate that we need an hour of sleep for every two hours of being awake. How are you doing in this area? Are you anywhere close to the 2 to 1 ratio?
Teenagers need more sleep than any other age group except babies, typically nine or more hours per night. People who sleep eight hours score better on mental tests than people who sleep six. Where were these statistics when I was going to college? What also immediately pops into my mind when I see this information is the craziness of the residency programs most med students must survive. (Or is it more accurate to say that most patients of med students must survive?)
Using an alarm clock to force yourself awake unnaturally is bad for you. Now here’s a fact that I bet virtually everyone who reads this already knew. We just didn’t have the scientific backing to prove our intuition. Now we do. So live out your fantasy and smash that bugger with a hammer. But, you will have to train yourself to wake up naturally without it. Fairly easy to do the blog asserts, so you’ll have to read the blog post for instruction on how. BTW, not to brag, but we haven’t used an alarm clock for years. Love it!!!
So, I encourage you to scan the two blog posts I’ve included. There is a lot more fascinating information about sleep found within. I just skimmed the “tree tops.” And get some sleep!!!
Father, help us realize that sleep is not a waste of time. Help us dispel the lie that only lazy people sleep 7-8 hours a night. Speak to our hearts about our personal sleep habits.
“The human brain is a wonderful organ. It starts to work as soon as you are born and doesn’t stop until you get up to deliver a speech.” George Jessel
What does wellness have to do with the brain?
Alcohol and prostitution have robbed my people of their brains. (Hosea 4:11; NLT)
Those DG subscribers who have been with us for a while know that I really enjoy reading and writing about the amazing power of the human brain. I think part of this is because the brain has been largely misunderstood and underestimated and is a lot like unexplored space in terms of how rapidly modern science is beginning to explore the inner workings. It is truly one of the most amazing features of our body, and I’m sure we’re not even scratched the surface with our knowledge and new understanding.
All that aside, I’ve been focused on wellness for the last couple of months as Sharon, Randy, and I have labored to put together our UNCOMMON Wellness Coaching e-book. In fact, some may be wondering if I have “wellness” on my brain? Well, I confess that I probably have been pretty single minded of late. Interestingly enough, I ran across a blog post by Jeff Nickles titled “20 Ways To Train Your Brain for Peak Performance.” In his post (today’s link), Jeff offers a number of interesting ideas for keeping our brain “young,” a topic that is of great interest to me — for obvious reasons.
I was struck by how many of the 20 ways that Jeff mentioned were congruent with the things we were stressing in our wellness book. Here’s a short list of overlaps that I found:
- We have a chapter on exercise and Jeff’s way #5 points out that one study shows that physical activity increases the volume of the brain. See you at the gym tomorrow?
- Another chapter in our book is on rest. Jeff’s post offers way #4 suggesting that things are clearer and brighter after a good night’s sleep.
- A number of his other ways speak to stress issues that we address in our chapter on stress. Jeff suggests meditation, positive thinking, reducing TV watching, reminiscing old memories, et al. as ways to reduce stress and thereby train your brain for peak performance.
- One of his ways even overlaps with our chapter on nutrition as he points out that protein rather than carbohydrates is the better way to feed your brain.
So, it almost looks like we could adopt a subtitle for our book…something like UNCOMMON Wellness Coaching to Train Your Brain for Peak Performance. Thanks for the idea, Jeff.
Father, we continue to marvel at Your incredible design for the human body. Grant us the grace and understanding of how to properly care for such an amazing machine.
Link of the Day
20 Ways To Train Your Brain for Peak Performance
Blessings on you as you outline a regimen of brain training this weekend.
“A new study carried out at Wake Forest University and published in the medical journal Neurology has found that HRT drugs literally shrink women’s brains.”
How aware are you of the side effects of the drugs you’re taking?
Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured. (Jer. 46:11; KJV)
Mike Adams recently wrote about a new study that revealed that the use of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) drugs is actually shrinking a woman’s brain. “Subjects who took HRT drugs for an extended period of time showed a loss of 2.37 cubic centimeters in the frontal lobe of the brain.” I don’t know about you, but I want to keep ALL of my brain that God gave me. The thought of a drug actually shrinking my brain…well, causes my hair to stand on end. (Enjoy the pun.)
I recall from my anatomy and physiology days that the frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for our thinking ability and our memory skills. Hmmmm…could there be a correlation between women who use HRT and the increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in these women? The study suggests as much.
Mike Adams writes, “Are HRT drugs part of a campaign to keep the women in society barefoot, pregnant, and stupid? It just so happens that these drugs — which are mostly pushed by men — keep women in a state of cognitive impairment in which their thinking skills are suppressed. (It turns smart women into stupid women.) The shrinkage of their frontal lobe also causes them to be unable to make good decisions about getting OFF the medications, and that plays right into the hands of Big Pharma’s profit schemes.” Ouch! Pretty direct, Mike.
Apparently, HRT drugs aren’t the only drugs with this shrinking side effect. ADHD drugs have also been proven to cause stunted growth and brain shrinkage in children and teens. So, at least for the ladies among us, there are alternatives to HRT. Become informed about what these drugs could be doing to you and begin the quest for natural answers. They are readily available. Feel free to write to me if you need some help.
Keep all the brain you’ve got!
Father, thank You for our bodies and our brains. May we seek You to do all that we can to take proper care of them and bring glory to You in all we say and do.
Link of the Day
More Bad News For HRT Users
Blessings on you as you learn about the side effects of drugs that you or your family may be taking.
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is why so few people partake in it.” Henry Ford
How do you define thinking?
I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise. (Psa. 119:148; NLT)
A little over a week ago, I published a DG entitled, “You’re Always Thinking.” So what’s this “NOT” business about? Am I changing my mind that quickly? Well no, but I just read something that makes me want to expand on that a little bit. Maybe it’s just a semantical issue, but I suspect it’s much larger than that. Let me explain…
A better title might have been “You’re Always Engaged in Mental Activity.” Besides being harder to say, what’s the difference? Is there a difference between thinking and mental activity? Read more on You're Always Thinking-NOT!…
“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here” Unknown
How do you respond to doubt, fear, and anxiety?
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18; NKJ)
Three weeks ago now I said that I was going to do an extended series of DGs on the human brain. Right now, I’m thinking that this will be the last in the series–at least for a while. If you missed the introduction to this little series, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes and go back and read that introductory material. (Access “Your Amazing Brain” by clicking here.)
The amygdala is “an almond-shaped mass of gray matter in the front part of the temporal lobe of the cerebrum that is part of the limbic system and is involved in the processing and expression of emotions, especially anger and fear,” according to the American Heritage Science Dictionary. I don’t want to get too technical with this series on the brain, but there is this one part of the brain, that has a Latin name, but which you must understand to be able to avoid the kind of thinking traps we’ve been warning you about throughout this series. (BTW, amygdala is simply a Latin word based on Greek that means “almond.” As you might suspect, the amygdala is shaped like an almond.)
This paranoid little guy has awesome power over your perceptions and actions because it senses real and potential stress and causes the release of chemicals into your system triggering feelings of doubt, fear, and anxiety. The amygdala stores the emotional perceptions that occur each time a memory is built. Memory and emotions are inseparable. The amazing thing is that the amygdala stores all the emotional perceptions you have developed while building memory from the time in the womb until today as you read this DG.
Now, anytime you grow and move to another level in anything in life, you are obviously stepping outside of your comfort zone. The doubt, fear, and anxiety that the amygdala triggers because of real or potential stress is perfectly normal. When you understand that this is absolutely the way it’s supposed to work, and that the brain is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing, you can use that understanding to make rational decisions, rather than misinterpret the feelings to mean that you should stop the activity.
Even the most successful people you can name have those same feelings of doubt and anxiety, but they make the choice to push on through rather than bow to them. This understanding of how the brain is supposed to work puts a whole new perspective on doubt and fear. Now you can see that the absence of doubt and fear is a warning signal of status quo, i.e., there’s no growth going on. That’s OK for a season, but should not be what we strive for on a steady basis.
Lord, we thank You for this understanding of what the signals of doubt, fear, and anxiety really mean. We ask for the courage to step through that False Evidence that Appears Real.
Link of the Day
Emotions and the Brain: Fear
Blessings on you as you face your fears and step out of your comfort zone.