Exercise, brain training may boost brain health in old age

 Music with a beat makes seniors exercise longer

Exercise, controlling blood pressure and some forms of brain training might preserve brain health.(Kzenon/shutterstock.com)

WASHINGTON — Are you seeking steps to keep your brain healthy in old age?

There are no proven ways to stave off mental decline or dementia. But a new report says there are hints that exercise, controlling blood pressure and some forms of brain training might offer some help.

Without proof, the government should not begin a public health campaign pushing strategies for aging brain health, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a report released Thursday.

But the public should be told the evidence is “encouraging,” though inconclusive, the report concluded. That way, people can use the information in deciding whether to invest time and money on different interventions.

The three highlighted strategies “do no harm,” said neuroscientist Alan Leshner, chairman of the National Academies committee. “At least two of them are really good for you” even if the brain link doesn’t pan out.

Scientists know that risky changes in the brain begin decades before symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias become apparent, suggesting there’s a window when people might bolster their cognitive health. But the report says Americans face a “bewildering” array of products and strategies promoted for brain health despite little if any rigorous science to back them up.

The National Institute on Aging asked the prestigious National Academies to review the field. The committee said three interventions should be more closely studied to prove if they really can help:

— Getting high blood pressure under control, especially in middle age. People with hypertension need treatment anyway to prevent heart disease and strokes.

— Increased physical activity. Similar to the blood pressure advice, what’s good for the heart has long been deemed good for the brain.

— Cognitive training, specific techniques aimed at enhancing reasoning, problem solving, memory and speed of mental processing. While immediate task performance may improve, the committee said it’s not clear whether there’s lasting, meaningful benefit.

This is not merely “brain games” on your computer, Leshner said. The committee isn’t backing those costly computer-based programs. Indeed, the government fined one brain training company last year for misleading consumers.

Instead, the best study to date included training done in groups, providing social engagement too. And cognitively stimulating activities include such things as learning a new language, the report noted.

“Since generally keeping intellectually active appears to be good for you, do that,” Leshner advised, and if you’re considering a commercial program, ask the company to see studies backing it.

The Alzheimer’s Association had been awaiting the recommendations, and agreed that “more research is needed to determine what the optimal interventions should be,” said chief medical officer Maria Carrillo. “In the meantime, we recommend that people challenge their brains to maintain brain health.”


Tata Motors and FCA plans to boost partnership to share technology

(Pic credit: Thinkstock)(Pic credit: Thinkstock)
Like fitness, but unable to get into that mode as often as you would want to, owing to a packed week? You’re not alone. So many folks have been finding it tough to put in a quality workout from Monday to Friday. They try and make up for that on the weekend. This burgeoning group even has a name ‘weekend warriors’ and denotes those who much like their name, aggressively try and gain fitness benefits over a Saturday and Sunday.

But is this safe?
Not really, feel experts. There is risk of higher injury associated with trying to do so. A study found that trying to clock more miles a day or pushing the body to run too far, too fast, can have its downsides. Such high, infrequent exercise may be an over burst of activity that the body is not used to. So, if you have to run on a weekend do so in a more moderate manner, always after a good warm up and for just 30 minutes or so.

Tips to be a safe weekend warrior

1) Watch your diet:
Preparing for the weekend run actually starts through the week. Don’t overeat or indulge in heavy food on the other days, but have a balanced meal within the normal BMI (Body Mass Index).

2) Keep moving:
Think of this as a weekday warm-up. Try and do enough walking as well as activities like taking the stairs, from Monday to Friday, to condition your joints and muscles for the weekend run.

3) Mix things up:
Don’t just run on these two days. Also try swimming and pilates which will tone your body in different ways


Friendly Colleagues May Boost Your Health, Says Study

Friendly Colleagues May Boost Your Health, Says Study

MELBOURNE: Not just the right job, but the relationships with colleagues and the social groups we form at the workplace may be linked to better health and lower burnout, new research has found.

Previous studies on the relationships between people and their workplaces focus on issues of satisfaction, motivation, and performance, but much less on health and well-being.

While many people assume that finding the right job that fits your personality and skills is the key to a healthy work life, Scientists have shown that how strongly we identify with the people or organisation where we work is associated with better health at work.

“This study is the first large-scale analysis showing that organisational identification is related to better health,” said Niklas Steffens from University of Queensland in Australia.

“These results show that both performance and health are enhanced to the extent that workplaces provide people with a sense of ‘we’ and ‘us’,” said Mr Steffens.

The team reviewed 58 studies covering 19,000 people in a variety of occupations, from service and health to sales and military work, in 15 countries.

While the type of job was not a significant factor in the link between social identification and health benefits, several factors influenced the relationship.

“Social identification contributes to both psychological and physiological health, but the health benefits are stronger for psychological health,” said Mr Steffens.

The positive psychological benefit may stem from the support provided by the work group but also the meaning and purpose that people derive from membership in social groups.
“We are less burnt out and have greater well-being when our team and our organisation provide us with a sense of belonging and community – when it gives us a sense of ‘we-ness’,” said Mr Steffens.

The researchers also found that the health benefits of identifying with the workplace are strongest when there are similar levels of identification within a group – that is, when identification is shared.

So if you identify strongly with your organisation, then you get more health benefits if everyone else identifies strongly with the organisation too.

The team was surprised to find that that the more women there were in a sample, the weaker the identification-health relationship.

“This was a finding that we had not predicted and, in the absence of any prior theorising, we can only guess what gives rise to this effect,” said Mr Steffens.

“However, one of the reasons may relate to the fact that we know from other research that there are still many workplaces that have somewhat ‘masculine’ cultures,” he said.

“This could mean that even when female employees identify with their team or organisation, they still feel somewhat more marginal within their team or organisation,” he added.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review.


Laughter With Exercise May Boost Health In Older Adults

Laughter With Exercise May Boost Health In Older AdultsIncorporating laughter into a physical activity programme may improve older adult’s mental health, aerobic endurance and confidence in their ability to exercise, according to a new study.

In the study, led by researchers from Georgia State University in the US, older adults residing in four assisted-living facilities participated in a moderate-intensity group exercise programme called LaughActive.

LaughActive incorporates playful simulated laughter into a strength, balance and flexibility workout.

In simulated laughter exercises, participants initially choose to laugh and go through the motions of laughing. The exercises facilitate eye contact and playful behaviours with other participants, which generally transition the laughter from simulated to genuine.

Simulated laughter techniques are based on knowledge that the body cannot distinguish between genuine laughter that might result from humour and laughter that is self-initiated as bodily exercise.

Both forms of laughter elicit health benefits, researchers said.

For six weeks, study participants attended two 45-minute physical activity sessions per week that included eight to 10 laughter exercises lasting 30 to 60 seconds each.

A laughter exercise was typically incorporated into the workout routine after every two to four strength, balance and flexibility exercises.

Because laughter is scientifically demonstrated to strengthen and relax muscles, the laughter exercises often involved physicality in the muscles being worked in strength, balance and flexibility exercises to prepare the body for exercise and help it recover.

The study found significant improvements among participants in mental health, aerobic endurance and outcome expectations for exercise (for example, perceived benefit of exercise participation), based on assessments completed by the participants.

When surveyed about their satisfaction with the programme, 96.2 per cent found laughter to be an enjoyable addition to a traditional exercise programme, 88.9 per cent said laughter helped make exercise more accessible and 88.9 per cent reported the programme enhanced their motivation to participate in other exercise classes or activities.

“The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the programme,” said lead author Celeste Greene from Georgia State’s Gerontology Institute.source”cnbc”

“We want to help older adults have a positive experience with exercise, so we developed a physical activity programme that specifically targets exercise enjoyment through laughter,” added Greene.



5 more Firefox add-ons that boost browser productivity

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As we’ve mentioned previously, Firefox’s vast library of add-ons makes it easy to build the browser into a productivity juggernaut. We uncovered a few more must-have customizations for improving your online workflow.

Start HQ

The Firefox start tab isn’t exactly motivating; in fact, you’re more likely to be seduced by the search bar into wasting time than starting on the day’s tasks. This add-on kickstarts your productivity by making your essential sites and services the first thing you see when you boot up your browser.



StartHQ turns turns the Firefox start page into a productivity dashboard.

StartHQ assembles all your commonly used web apps, social networks, and other cloud services into a kind of productivity dashboard. Hovering over an app’s icon reveals “deep links” to its often-used functions. You can group similar apps together on multiple screens as you would on a mobile device, and even search across most popular cloud service right within the tab.

Rescue Time

If at the end of the day you’re staring at a full to-do list wondering where the time went, you need this add-on.

rescue time

Rescue Time

Get a picture of your productivity with the Rescue Time add-on.

Rescue Time tracks the time you spend online and gives you detailed reports on where and how you’re spending your time. Sites are auto-categorized and scored on a scale from “very productive” to “very distracting.” The result is a stark picture of your productivity—or procrastination—so you can reclaim those lost hours.




X-Notifer lets you know how many unread emails you have in your various inboxes.

Constantly stopping what you’re doing to check your email is one of the most disruptive productivity habits. And it gets exponentially worse with each email account you have.

X-Notifier helps you manage your inbox addiction by checking all of your linked email accounts and notifying you—in a pop-up window, the Firefox status bar, or a sidebar—of the number of unread messages you have. The add-on supports most popular email services and protocols, and can be configured to support sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by user script.

Save File To

As you can tell from its name, this add-on streamlines one of the most basic browser functions. Normally, you have to dig through the folder hierarchy on your hard drive each time you want to save a file. With Save File To, you don’t even have open the Save dialog. Just right click on a file and choose one of the “save to” options (links, image, page, etc.). The add-on automatically populates the menu with all your home-drive directories, which you can customize in the preferences.

save file to

Save To File

Save To File lets you save anything to your home directories from the right-click menu.

Download Plan


Download Plan

Download Plan lets you scheudule your downloads for off-peak hours.

If your work entails downloading a lot of files, this add-on is essential. You can avoid peak times, bandwidth issues, and other impediments by creating a download schedule, organizing your links, and selecting where to save the files. Download Plan does all the heavy lifting, while you take care of other business.


ZTE Warp 7 launches at Boost Mobile for $99.99

Today a new lower-midrange ZTE smartphone running Android has been launched by Boost Mobile. Almost five years after the Warp brand was first used on a phone, Sprint’s prepaid brand already has the new ZTE Warp 7 up for sale through its online store, yet the device will only make it to brick and mortar establishments starting on September 5.

It comes with a 5.5-inch 720p touchscreen, a 64-bit Qualcomm 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, a 13 MP rear camera with LED flash, a 5 MP selfie snapper, LTE, and a 3,080 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick charge support. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The ZTE Warp 7 can be yours for $99.99 plus tax, yet without any contract-signing requirements of course. Free shipping is offered. You can pair the phone with Boost’s new Unlimited Unhook’d plan, which costs $50 per month (for the first line, $30 per month for second to fifth lines) and offers unlimited talk, text, and “optimized streaming videos, gaming and music”, as well as “unlimited nationwide 4G LTE for everything else”. Nice as that may sound, make sure to read the fine print, for there are a lot of exceptions.


Samsung Galaxy J7, LG Stylo 2, and Kyocera Hydro Reach launch at Boost and Virgin Mobile on Friday

This Friday will be a very busy day for Sprint’s prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. The former will see no less than three new smartphones launching on April 15, while the latter will have to go with two out of three. The trio in question consists of the Samsung Galaxy J7, LG Stylo 2, and Kyocera Hydro Reach.

The Galaxy J7 arriving at Boost and Virgin isn’t this year’s iteration, instead it looks to be last year’s model, but it does have a couple of upgrades compared to the internationally available unit. Namely, it sports 2GB of RAM, and it’s also running Android 6.0 Marshmallow right out of the gate.

The J7 also has a 5.5-inch 720p Super AMOLED touchscreen, 16GB of expandable storage, a 13 MP rear camera, a 5 MP selfie cam, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 SoC with a 1.4 GHz octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU, and a 3,000 mAh battery. It will be sold by the prepaid carriers for $229.99 plus tax (and obviously sans contract).

The LG Stylo 2 is the successor to the G Stylo from last year. It boasts a 5.7-inch 720p IPS touchscreen, a 13 MP rear camera, a 5 MP selfie snapper, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 chipset (with a 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 3,000 mAh battery. It runs Android Marshmallow and comes with a stylus as its name implies.

The Stylo 2 will be priced at $179.99 plus tax and will arrive at Boost this Friday and at Virgin on May 9.

Finally, the Kyocera Hydro Reach has a 5-inch 540×960 touchscreen, a 5 MP rear camera, a 2 MP front-facing unit, a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2,160 mAh battery. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Its main claim to fame is the fact that it’s water and dust proof. It will cost $99.99 plus tax.

[“source -business-standard”]

Obamacare leads to 20M insurance boost: Admin

About 20 million adults under the age of 65 have gained health insurance of some kind in the six years since Obamacare has been law, leading to an all-time low rate of Americans without insurance, President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

The new tally indicates that about 2.4 million additional people gained insurance since last fall. Obama revealed the new tally during a speech in Milwaukee, where he touted the benefits of the ACA.

Protestors raise awareness to keep Affordable Care Act.

Mark Wilson | Getty Images
Protestors raise awareness to keep Affordable Care Act.

Officials said the gains in the number of people insured over the past six years came from the expansion of Medicaid programs to include many more poor adults, the sale of private insurance plans on government-run Obamacare marketplaces, and a new rule that allows adults under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ health plans.

About 6.1 million previously uninsured young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 gained coverage since the ACA went into effect in 2010, officials said.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 20 million Americans have gained health-care coverage,” said Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

“We have seen progress in the last six years that the country has sought for generations. Americans with insurance through the health insurance marketplace or through their employers have benefited from better coverage and a reduction in the growth in health-care costs.”

Obama announced the new tally during a speech in Milwaukee, where he touted the benefits of the ACA, and where he was introduced by a Wisconsin man named Brent Brown, who had written a letter to the president that said “you saved my life” by getting the law passed.

Brown’s letter noted that he had not voted for Obama, and that he was an ardent Republican who had previously been “very vocal in my opposition to you — particularly the ACA.

“I am so very sorry,” Brown wrote. “I was so very wrong.”

“I have a ‘pre-existing condition’ and so could never purchase health insurance,” Brown wrote. “Only after the ACA came into being could I be covered.”

I would not be alive without access to care I received due to your law.”

Last September, officials estimated that 17.6 million people had gained insurance because of Obamacare. The latest estimate of 20 million people reflects increased enrollment in health coverage programs, such as in 2016 health plans sold on Obamacare exchanges during open enrollment, which ended Jan. 31.

The new tally relates only to coverage gains for adults ages 18 to 64. Officials said that if children and people 65 years old are not considered, the uninsured rate is estimated to be 11.5 percent.

But officials noted that the separate National Health Interview Survey, which looks at total U.S. population, for the first nine months of 2015 has estimated that the overall uninsured rate is just 9.1 percent.

HHS noted that gains in coverage since 2010 “were strong across all racial and ethnic groups” since the Obamacare exchanges started selling health plans in October 2013. But those gains were particularly strong among blacks and Hispanics, who historically have had much higher uninsured rates than white Americans.

The uninsured rate among black non-Hispanics was cut by more than half from 22.4 percent in 2010 to 10 percent now, the administration said. The uninsured rate among Hispanics was cut by more than 25 percent, from almost 42 percent uninsured to 30.5 percent as of early 2016.

The uninsured rate among white non-Hispanics fell by more than half, from 14.3 percent in 2010 to just 7 percent, according to officials
[“source -pcworld”]