On public speaking and anxiety disorders

Tuesday, 27 January, 2015

The prospect of speaking in public is probably enough to unsettle the best of us, but how does someone with an anxiety disorder manage? Scott Stossel, writing for The Alantic, outlines his preparations ahead of a speaking engagement.

Four hours or so ago, I took my first half milligram of Xanax. (I’ve learned that if I wait too long to take it, my fight-or-flight response kicks so far into overdrive that medication is not enough to yank it back.) Then, about an hour ago, I took my second half milligram of Xanax and perhaps 20 milligrams of Inderal. (I need the whole milligram of Xanax plus the Inderal, which is a blood-pressure medication, or beta-blocker, that dampens the response of the sympathetic nervous system, to keep my physiological responses to the anxious stimulus of standing in front of you – the sweating, trembling, nausea, burping, stomach cramps, and constriction in my throat and chest – from overwhelming me.) I likely washed those pills down with a shot of scotch or, more likely, vodka, the odor of which is less detectable on my breath.

How daunting is that? I may dread public speaking, but thankfully I don’t have to deal with an anxiety disorder.

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To juice cleanse, or detox, or not?

Monday, 26 January, 2015

Go into, say, Sydney’s Centennial Park on the first work day of the year, in the early evening, and see how many people are out running. Go back a week later, and see how few there are. Hmm, behold the fickle sway of new year’s resolutions…

If then, by chance, one of your resolutions for the new year, was to try out a detox, or juice cleanse, you ought to read this BuzzFeed piece on the subject… assuming that particular undertaking hasn’t already gone by the wayside.

“I don’t know why someone would do a juice cleanse,” Dr. John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the division of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told BuzzFeed Life. “There’s very little evidence that it does anything good for you.”

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Man, my flossing coach is really putting me through my paces

Wednesday, 21 January, 2015

Let’s face it, personal trainers, or fitness coaches, are a dime a dozen. If you were, by chance, considering taking up a career as one, think again. It’s a competitive industry after all, and finding a customer base may prove difficult. That shouldn’t deter you from going into coaching though, it’s just a matter of finding an unexploited niche.

How about then, working as a flossing coach? No, seriously…

For years, dental hygienists have patiently listened to my evasions when they ask me how much I floss. The real answer is hardly ever. That has to end. But the gap between my intention and follow-through in this area always has been vast. Just knowing that flossing is good for me and desiring to do it have, frankly, never been enough. So I did what any reasonable person in the vicinity of San Francisco in 2015 would do. I used an app to hire a flossing coach.

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Running, a great to keep walking faster

Monday, 15 December, 2014

As we age, the speed at which we walk tends to slow down. I guess that would make sense. Or would it?

Given the speed at which we walk though is some sort of indicator of lifespan, one of a great many I’d say, people may therefore be wondering how to keep their walking speeds on the up. Seemingly it is quite possible, all it takes is a little running. Well, when I say a little, that means thirty minutes a day, three times a week.

Many of us probably would assume that this physical slowing is inevitable. And in past studies of aging walkers, physiologists have found that, almost invariably, their walking economy declines over time. That is, they begin using more energy with each step, which makes moving harder and more tiring. But researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., began to wonder whether this slow decay of older people’s physical ease really is inexorable or if it might be slowed or reversed by other types of exercise and, in particular, by running.

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Instant exercise… just add water?

Thursday, 27 November, 2014

I think, despite the seeming ease and convenience that… exercise in a bottle – a metabolism stimulating enzyme that can be ingested in drink form – offers, I prefer to continue doing things the hard way. That’s just me mind you.

The world’s biggest food company, known for KitKat candy bars and Nespresso capsules, says it has identified how an enzyme in charge of regulating metabolism can be stimulated by a compound called C13, a potential first step in developing a way to mimic the fat-burning effect of exercise. The findings were published in the science journal Chemistry & Biology in July.

Is an endorphin rush on offer here as well?

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Get under your own skin with some medical animations

Friday, 14 November, 2014

From Hybrid Medical Animation in Minneapolis, medical animations… likely the best way see what’s happening under your skin.

Via Hypnophant.

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Talking up walking as a transcendental experience

Tuesday, 11 November, 2014

Walking, as simply a means to move from one point to another, is just walking. Walking, while taking in what is happening around us, is an experience. That’s my take away at least, from this article on the topic by Craig Mod:

There is an art and history to walking and walking well. “To walk for hours on a clear night is the largest experience we can have” writes Thomas Clark in his poem, In Praise of Walking. He was speaking of countryside walks beneath the stars. But a night walk in a city also brings with it its own great pleasures. Rebecca Solnit writes in Wanderlust, “Cities have always offered anonymity, variety, and conjunction, qualities best basked in by walking.” Mysteries are presented to the walker – the floating sound of a guitar above, screen door murmurs, cats frozen, baths splashing, the far off buzz of a motorcycle. Mysteries sometimes answered, more often serving only as ballast for the flitting narratives of the walker mind.

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Gut instinct? It’s more like a second central nervous system actually

Wednesday, 5 November, 2014

If you’ve ever felt that your stomach is somehow trying to communicate with you, that may be exactly what is happening. It seems our digestive system is host to our enteric nervous system (ENS), and its function is not solely restricted to matters of digestion:

Embedded in the wall of the gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS) has long been known to control digestion. Now it seems it also plays an important role in our physical and mental well-being. It can work both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head and, although you are not conscious of your gut “thinking”, the ENS helps you sense environmental threats, and then influences your response. “A lot of the information that the gut sends to the brain affects well-being, and doesn’t even come to consciousness,” says Michael Gershon at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York.

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To slow down ageing we need to party and live as if it were 1992

Thursday, 30 October, 2014

Might it be possible to slow down ageing by way of a… live-in placebo of sorts? I heard of this story sometime ago, but in 1981 eight men, aged in their 70s, spent five days living in surrounds converted to convey the impression that it was 1959.

What was found at the end of the men’s mock 1959 stay? All appeared to have shown some signs of having reversed the ageing process:

At the end of their stay, the men were tested again. On several measures, they outperformed a control group that came earlier to the monastery but didn’t imagine themselves back into the skin of their younger selves, though they were encouraged to reminisce. They were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller – just as Langer had guessed. Perhaps most improbable, their sight improved. Independent judges said they looked younger. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had “put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride.

In addition to living twenty years in the past, it seems giving up soft drink may also be a good idea, when it comes to slowing down ageing.

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Ok, so you can run, but can you properly imagine a person running?

Wednesday, 15 October, 2014

Well, this is embarrassing. People have been running for what, tens of thousands of years, but we, the same people, still don’t how to properly depict, or even imagine, this physical activity?

Wilson also points out that there’s a huge difference between asking someone to strike a running pose, and asking someone to run. “The only thing your postural systems cares about is staying upright, maintaining balance,” he says. “Running is about dynamic balance; maintaining balance as your mass moves. This is why we run in a contralateral pose – that’s how you balance out all the various forces and preserve your upright posture. Posing as if running is static balance.” In other words, the body asked to pose and asked to run is acting on two very different requests.

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