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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Now that we’ve lived our best years, let’s bow out at 75

Friday, 26 September, 2014

Ezekiel Emanuel, writing for The Atlantic, thinks age seventy-five would be about a good time for him to make an exit from this life.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

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Procrastination, a symptom that all may not be well?

Monday, 22 September, 2014

Simply trying to force yourself into action may not be the remedy for procrastination. In fact procrastination may be symptomatic of stress and low self-compassion, suggests some Canadian research into the subject.

Sirois found that people prone to procrastination had lower levels of self-compassion and higher levels of stress. Further analysis revealed that procrastination might increase levels of stress – particularly among people low in self-compassion.

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Good ideas will seldom come from sitting about

Friday, 12 September, 2014

My best ideas come to me while I’m on foot. Or so I like to think. Whether anyone agrees is another matter. It seems though there a clear link between walking and the thought process, that makes walking a two-for-the-price-of-one sort of activity, exercise plus clear thoughts…

When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs – including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

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In the ultraviolet, you need to see how the Sun sees you

Friday, 22 August, 2014

Let’s just say that the Sun sees you in a light that may not always be flattering. Be sure to take the appropriate precautions if spending any amount of time exposed to solar rays.

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Bones in motion, a series of x-ray animations

Friday, 22 August, 2014

Image via Cameron Drake

Cameron Drake has created a series of animations using x-ray images of people’s hands, ankles, elbows, and shoulders. Fascinating.

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The thing about depression is it may not always feel like depression

Thursday, 21 August, 2014

Depression can be an elusive, slippery, illness to contend with, given many sufferers don’t fully realise how afflicted they are, until they start being treated:

Until I started taking my antidepressants, though, I didn’t actually know that I was depressed. I thought the dark staticky corners were part of who I was. It was the same way I felt before I put on my first pair of glasses at age 14 and suddenly realized that trees weren’t green blobs but intricate filigrees of thousands of individual leaves; I hadn’t known, before, that I couldn’t see the leaves, because I didn’t realize that seeing leaves was a possibility at all. And it wasn’t until I started using tools to counterbalance my depression that I even realized there was depression there to need counterbalancing.

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Personality, sometimes it is stable, sometimes it is not…

Wednesday, 20 August, 2014

Key aspects of our personality, such as extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness, vary in stability as we go through life, rather than remaining constant, with the greatest fluctuations being experienced in youth, and then later life:

Stability of personality increases through youth, peaks in mid-life and then gradually reduces again into old age, presumably in response to the variations in social and biological pressures we experience at the different stages of life.

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In space no one can sleep… or rather sleep all that well

Tuesday, 19 August, 2014

Crews aboard long haul space flights, such as trips to Mars, should one, be introverts, and two, be possessed of the gene variant that allows them to function on less sleep than others since space, it seems, is not particularly conducive to slumber

Researchers tracked the sleep patterns of 85 crew members aboard the ISS and space shuttle and found that despite an official flight schedule mandating 8.5 hours of sleep per night, they rarely got more than five. In fact, getting a full night’s rest was so difficult that three-quarters of shuttle mission crew members used sleep medication, and sometimes entire teams were sedated on the same night.

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