Age Wise

Several strategies can help prevent a downward spiral — they all start with reaching out

Photo: Leon Liu/Unsplash

This is the second in a three-part series on preventing depression, a serious and growing mental disorder that can strike at any age and, if untreated, persist and worsen.

Rainy days often get me down. Even a little overcast can put me into a funk. Sometimes I just get moody for no good reason. That’s all normal. But when feelings of sadness persist day after day, any of us — me, you, a family member, or a friend — runs the risk of plunging into debilitating depression. There is no immunity. There are, however, effective prevention strategies.

“There is ample…


Photo: Pexels/Pixabay

Your brain needs to rest if you’re trying to stuff new things in there

Next time you’re trying to learn a new skill, take a break. In fact, take lots of breaks. New research finds that the brain can use rest periods to recall and replay the task, improving performance. The finding builds on other studies showing that your brain needs some downtime when you try to stuff it with new information or skills.

In the new study, scientists mapped the brain activity of 33 right-handed volunteers while they repeatedly typed a string of five numbers with their left hands. They were asked to type it as many times as they could for 10…


Age Wise

Self-care strategies to use before depression gets the best of you

Photo: Sasha Freemind/Unsplash

This is the first in a three-part series on preventing depression, a serious and growing mental disorder that can strike at any age and, if untreated, persist and worsen.

Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open — precipitated by “huge waves of anxiety” the 23-year-old feels over obligatory press events and the “long bouts of depression” she says she has dealt with since 2018 — highlights the reality of the shadowy world of depression, an increasingly common condition that can sneak up on any of us, at any age, for reasons obvious or mysterious.

Osaka’s decision to “exercise self-care,” as…


Age Wise

The science of sexual satisfaction through the years

Photo: Nani Chavez/Unsplash

Desire for sex hasn’t changed much for me over the years, and while it’s none of your business, it’s still good, sometimes better than ever.

According to science, I’ve got three things going for the older me: I get a lot of physical activity, I feel younger than my actual age, and apparently I’ve developed a little “sexual wisdom.” So if you’re fumbling through your young-adult sex life, or stressed out in middle age wondering where the magic went, trust that there are ways to improve your sex life now and as you get older.

But don’t take my word…


It’s time to work less; your life may depend on it

Photo: Marten Bjork/Unsplash

Work too much? Need an excuse to put in fewer hours? Feel free to wave this new study under the nose of your boss: Working too many hours causes physical and mental stress that killed 745,194 people before their time in a single year around the globe, due to heart disease and strokes.

The analysis, the first analysis of its kind, was done by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization and was published May 17 in the journal Environment International. …


That strange sense of feeling younger than you are is very common

Image: Pixaby

When I look in the mirror, I see someone way older than my brain expects. My mind is stuck at around age 30, shaving a whopping 28 years off reality. It’s a strange sensation that leaves me feeling like the kid in a room of adults who are all around my age, or has me referring to a stranger in his fifties “some old guy.” Turns out I’m not alone, and science actually has a term for this very common internal time warp.

After about age 25, most people think of themselves as younger than their chronological age. …


You never know what you might find when you just get out there. Photos by the writer

I feel like a kid again, and it keeps me in shape

Exercising sucks. I’ve always thought so. Yet I’m in pretty good shape these days. My secret: I don’t exercise much. Instead, I mostly play. Vigorously and often. Mountain biking is my latest (renewed) passion. I’m back into it in a big way after more than two decades of feeling too old.

And I gotta tell ya: No matter your age, ability or fitness level, you can’t beat a good trail ride for getting in shape and having a great time without the dreaded, unnatural, germ-infested, against-all-evolution act of exercising in a gym.

If you’re the cautious type, you’ll absolutely revel…


Image: Pixabay

Marijuana’s lesser-known effects on creativity, productivity, memory and cognition

Seth Rogen, the highly productive comedian, writer, actor, director, producer, ceramic artist and now entrepreneur, smokes a lot of pot. “I smoke weed all day every day,” Rogen said recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “It is 100% intrinsic to my functionality and my life.” Amid all the self-deprecating humor and tangential streams of consciousness, the co-creative force behind such films as “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” emphasized how rigorously he has tested each strain of marijuana sold by his new cannabis company.

Toward the end of the interview, the obvious question finally came up:

Kimmel: “Are you high right now?

Rogen


If it feels good, do it — not a bad guideline for pre- or post-shot workouts. Image: Pixabay

There’s little research on this, but common sense can guide you

Before heading out for my first of two Covid-19 vaccine shots, I worried I might not feel like exercising later in the day. So I dropped to the mat in our bedroom for 40 quick push-ups (my current max) and then did a quick set of curls. Afterward, feeling some mild shoulder soreness, I pondered a bike ride. But then I wondered: Would exercise before or after the shot enhance or inhibit vaccine effectiveness? And might getting my blood pumping make me feel better? Or worse?

There’s not a lot of research on this, especially specific to the Covid-19 vaccines…


The elimination diet, which should be undertaken only with advice from a health care provider, can cause cravings and leave you hangry, but it can also reveal foods that might cause gas, bloating, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues. Image: Pixabay

The ‘elimination diet’ is a tool for identifying causes of bloating, excess farting, diarrhea or other food intolerances

Years of growing gastrointestinal issues you don’t want to know about — increasingly frequent need to go №2 with increasing urgency and lots of uncomfortable bloating and risky farting — grew so frustrating I recently embarked on a draconian, challenging, weeks-long diagnostic food journey.

I stopped eating almost everything.

At the outset, I limited my intake to a wee handful of relatively benign foods, tummy-wise, a mere 27 basic items even counting water, various spices and oils, and a multivitamin.

The experiment, based on a strategy called the elimination diet, involves stripping your food choices down to a spartan level…

Robert Roy Britt

Independent health and science journalist, former editor-in-chief of LiveScience, writing about how we age and how to optimize your mind and body through time.

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