Author Archives: Susan Wang

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Eat This To Prevent Brain Shrinkage

prevent brain shrinkage with food

Like your stash of leftover Halloween candy and your reserve of willpower for the day, there are a few things in life you really don’t want to run out of.

Also at the top of that list: your gray (and white) matter. Obviously your capacity to remember things and process information—abilities bestowed upon us by the robustness of our physical brains—holds a prize spot way higher up than those fun-size Snickers (at least, let’s hope).

For a while now, researchers have known that following a Mediterranean diet—one heavy on whole grains, fresh produce, and fatty fish and lower in red meat and dairy—seems to ward off signs of looming cognitive decline. But in a new study published in the journal Neurology, researchers examined the effect of the diet “on the brain itself,” says lead author Yian Gu, PhD, assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University, “rather than clinical symptoms.” Continue reading

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How A Half-Hour Run Boosts Motor Skills

By now you’re probably getting a little bored of the steady stream of research showing that running (and exercise in general) makes you smarter, as well as faster. Fair enough. But a slightly different twist is that researchers at Johns Hopkins have just published some neat data in PLOS ONE showing that a half-hour run also boosts “motor skill acquisition.”

What is motor learning? In this case, the task they tested is something called the Sequential Visual Isometric Pinch Task (SVIPT). You pinch a little force sensor between your thumb and index finger, and the harder you pinch, the farther you move a cursor across the screen of a computer. The task involves moving the cursor as quickly and accurately as possible to five different locations on the screen; performance was measured by looking at improvements in the relationship between speed and accuracy of four sets of 30 trials.

The basic result is that subjects got better at the SVIPT if they ran at a moderate pace for 30 minutes immediately before the testing session. If they rested for an hour after running, then they were still better than the no-exercise control, but not as good as the group that was tested immediately after running. The biggest improvements were in how accurately they controlled the cursor, rather than their speed.

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7 Ways To Prevent Lower Back Pain

5 ways to prevent back pain

If you suffer from lower back pain, you’re certainly not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States (just behind headaches), and Americans spend at least $50 billion a year on treating it. For most of you, bouts go away within a few days, but others may not be so lucky. The good news, though, is that lower back pain is completely avoidable. If you stick to the following tips, you can say goodbye to that nagging lower back for good.

Do Yoga

yoga prevents back pain

All kinds of exercises can promote back pain recovery by improving circulation and reducing stress, but researchers from the University of Washington believe yoga may be the best. They say yoga eases lower-packpain faster than most conventional exercises because it promotes deep breathing and relaxation, as well as stretching and strength. Therefore, yoga can help you with both the emotional and structural triggers of backpain. You can find yoga classes everywhere—at gyms or local studios or you could even start a yoga group with friends at home. But be sure to consult your instructor who can help customize a plan that’ll work best for you and your back pain.

Stand Up To The Pain
Sitting puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing. So the more time you can spend on your feet, the less back pain you’ll have to endure. If you can’t avoid heavy doses of desk work, sitting back at a 135-degree angle—roughly the position you’d assume in a lounge chair—can reduce compression on the discs of your spine, and so alleviate pain.

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The Most Powerful Exercise You’ll Ever Do For Yourself

most powerful exercise

Creating your Perfect Day Itinerary (PDI) may be one of the most powerful exercises you ever do for yourself, so make it count. I’ve coached many wandering entrepreneurs through this exercise, and most of them have told me it changed their lives. I wasn’t surprised—when I did it for the first time years ago, it literally set me up for creating the life I always envisioned and living it every day.

In this exercise, your job is to map out what your perfect day looks like along the path to achieving your vision. There are two parts to this exercise: the macro and the micro.

Part 1: The Macro Part
In this first part, you’ll figure out what your perfect day would look like at a general level. Not every day is going to be exactly the same.

Each day will look a little different depending on what happened the day before. It should look a little different; otherwise life would get boring and monotonous. Still, you want to have a broad sense of what each perfect day feels like. This starts with a series of questions:

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3 Makeup Tricks To Make You Look Less Tired

makeup tips

Some nights you just can’t get any. Sleep, that is. Insomnia, jet lag, late nights out, and staying up with a sick child are just a few snooze-time thieves. Inevitably you wake up the next morning looking just as blah as you feel. The telltale signs stare back at you in the mirror: lackluster skin, dark circles, and droopy eyes. Since hiding under the covers usually isn’t an option, follow these surefire makeup tips to look awake and to perk up your looks when you’re pooped.

For Lackluster Skin

w to get glowing skin

The best way to wake up skin is to hydrate, both inside and out. Start your day with a big glass of water; then focus on your skin care routine.

When you’re tired, a loss of lipids can allow water to evaporate from your skin, leaving it feeling dry and tight and looking dull. The solution: Lube up with a richer, denser face moisturizer than you normally use (“petrolatum” on the ingredient list is a good sign), or just switch from lotion to cream. Wait a few minutes to let the moisturizer sink in, and reapply if your skin still feels dry.

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3 Signs You’re Stuck In A Beauty Rut

how to get out of a beauty rut

Recently I unearthed old video footage dating back to the ’80s and was amazed at how many looks I went through, from vampy lipstick and a perm to supertan skin and surfer-girl blonde highlights. Change has always been easy for me, but I know that’s not the case for many women. So here is advice for the three most common beauty ruts I see. If you’ve found yourself longing for a new look, read on for instant makeup tips.

1. You look like you’re in a time warp

stuck in time old beauty

Symptom: Your beauty routine is the same as it was in high school—and it’s been 20 years since you graduated. Not only are you bored with your looks, but you’re also feeling a little out of step with the times.

Solution: Recognize that your looks have changed and your makeup should complement, not fight, your age. If you’ve been wearing pinkish foundation thinking that it gives you a youthful glow, it’s time to switch to one of the newer foundations with more natural-looking yellow undertones.

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7 Simple Ways To Keep Your Nails From Breaking So Much

how to get strong nails

Whether we see our nails as fun or functional, we want them strong. Since nails dry out easily, protecting them means keeping them well moisturized, says Phoebe Rich, MD, a dermatology professor at Oregon Health & Science University. These top tips will get your nails ready for any task at hand:

1. Keep moisturizer at-and on-your fingertips. Put a lubricating lotion by every sink, beside your bed, at your desk, and even in your purse.

2. Soak before clipping. Dry nails are more likely to crack and split when clipped, so trim with nail scissors after a bath or 15-minute hand soak.

3. Choose the right file Avoid metal files, which can split nails; emery boards are better, but the gentlest ones are padded files in a fine grit.

4. Go for size, not shape. Oval or square tips can be equally strong—just remember to file in one direction; keep them at about ¼ inch.

5. Wear polish or a clear topcoat to help nails retain moisture.Be sure to avoid anything with formaldehyde (it could cause nail separation or, in some cases, allergic reactions) or toluene, which can be drying. Clinique, Barielle, Almay, and Revlon all sell polishes free of both ingredients.

6. Touch up more, remove less. Don’t remove polish more than once a week. Acetone-free removers are kinder to your nails but still contain acetate, which can also be harsh and drying.

7. Learn to love gloves. To prevent moisture loss, wear them when it’s cold, when doing dishes, and at bedtime (apply lotion first for an over-night treatment).

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6 Weird Things That Are Making You Anxious

weird reasons your anxious

I consider myself an anxious person. Sometimes it serves me well—like when I’m walking home alone at night, keys wedged between my pointer and middle finger in case I have to defend myself. Other times? Let’s just say I’ve left my share of overcrowded parties in anxiety-induced tears.

So what gives? Why are some people at ease shopping in a swarming grocery store while others are searching for the nearest exit? When it comes to anxiety, there’s a lot more at play than whether or not you inherited your mother’s nervous-Nellie tendencies. Here, 6 surprising reasons why you just can’t seem to relax.

1. You really, really like your couch.

If you’re still sitting all the time even though you know it seriously ups your risk for developing diseases like cancer and diabetes, maybe this news will get you off your tuchus: Sedentary behaviors—like sitting for work, travel, or TV time—may increase your risk of developing anxiety, according to a recent review published in the journal BMC Public Health. Of the nine studies included in the review, most of them found at least one association between the time spent sitting down and the likelihood of anxiousness. Researchers believe poor health and decreased physical activity is at play, as exercise often eases anxiety.

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7 Essential Vitamins You Need After Age 40

Think of vitamins and nutrients as an army that will fight off age-related ailments. And the best way to build this army is by eating a healthy, well-rounded diet, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition programs at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. While it’s always important to eat well, it becomes especially essential around age 40 because that’s when the rules start to change, she says.

“Your body probably isn’t working the same way at 40-plus as it was at 20,” she says. Muscle mass starts to deteriorate, we’re much more likely to put on weight, menopause may (or may soon) start, and risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes begins to increase—which means your battle plan needs to start looking a little different.

One solution is getting enough of the right vitamins and nutrients, which is possible through healthy eating—and food sources are typically (but not always) a better bet than supplements because they’re better absorbed, Kirkpatrick says. Below, the key nutrients to look out for, and the best ways to get them.

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