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Is Vision More Sensitive During Exercise?

Psychologists design an experiment to investigate whether human vision is more sensitive during physical activity.

It’s universally accepted that the benefits of exercise go well beyond fitness, from reducing the risk of disease to improving sleep and enhancing mood. Physical activity gives cognitive function a boost as well as fortifying memory and safeguarding thinking skills.

But can it enhance your vision? It appears so.

Intrigued by recent findings that neuron firing rates in the regions of mouse and fly brains associated with visual processing increase during physical activity, UC Santa Barbara psychologists Barry Giesbrecht and Tom Bullock wanted to know if the same might be true for the human brain.

To find out, they designed an experiment using behavioral measures and neuroimaging techniques to explore the ways in which brief bouts of physical exercise impact human performance and underlying neural activity. The researchers found that low-intensity exercise boosted activation in the visual cortex, the part of the cerebral cortex that plays an important role in processing visual information. Their results appear in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

“We show that the increased activation — what we call arousal — changes how information is represented, and it’s much more selective,” said co-author Giesbrecht, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “That’s important to understand because how that information then gets used could potentially be different.

“There’s an interesting cross-species link that shows these effects of arousal might have similar consequences for how visual information is processed,” he continued. “That implies the evolution of something that might provide a competitive advantage in some way.”

To investigate how exercise affects different aspects of cognitive function, the investigators enlisted 18 volunteers. Each of them wore a wireless heart rate monitor and an EEG (electroencephalogram) cap containing 64 scalp electrodes. While on a stationary bicycle, participants performed a simple orientation discrimination task using high-contrast stimuli composed of alternating black and white bars presented at one of nine spatial orientations. The tasks were performed while at rest and during bouts of both low- and high-intensity exercise.

The scientists then fed the recorded brain data into a computational model that allowed them to estimate the responses of the neurons in the visual cortex activated by the visual stimuli. They analyzed the responses while participants were at rest and then during low- and high-intensity exercise.

This approach allowed them to reconstruct what large populations of neurons in the visual cortex were doing in relation to each of the different stimulus orientations. The researchers were able to generate a “tuning curve,” which estimates how well the neurons are representing the different stimulus orientations.

Image shows a man on an exercise bike.
Participants rode stationary bikes while wearing a wireless heart rate monitor and an EEG cap. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to UCSB.
“We found that the peak response is enhanced during low-intensity exercise relative to rest and high-intensity exercise,” said lead author Bullock, a postdoctoral researcher in UCSB’s Attention Lab. “We also found that the curve narrows in, which suggests a reduction in bandwidth. Together, the increased gain and reduced bandwidth suggest that these neurons are becoming more sensitive to the stimuli presented during the low-intensity exercise condition relative to the other conditions.”

Giesbrecht noted that they don’t know the mechanism by which this is occurring. “There are some hints that it may be driven by specific neurotransmitters that increase global cortical excitability and that can account for the change in the gain and the increase in the peak response of these tuning profiles,” he said.

From a broader perspective, this work underscores the importance of exercise. “In fact, the benefits of brief bouts of exercise might provide a better and more tractable way to influence information processing — versus, say, brain training games or meditation — and in a way that’s not tied to a particular task,” Giesbrecht concluded.

Source: http://neurosciencenews.com

Always tired? Hydration, Diet and Five Other Reasons You Could Be Battling Fatigue

TIREDNESS and fatigue could be an indicator of a major medical problem, such as anaemia, chronic fatigue syndrome or diabetes, it could also be a sign people are generally run down, haven’t had enough sleep or aren’t getting the right fuel.Experts have shared their top tips to help people who need an energy boost essential nutrients to get through the festive seasons.


It’s Christmas and pretty difficult to refuse the constant offers of mince pies, cake and chocolates. Thing is, whilst all foods provide energy, some – particularly sugary and processed ones – break down quicker sending your blood sugar levels soaring then crashing leaving you feeling drained. Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition said: “The key is ensuring you maintain blood sugar levels by eating regularly throughout the day and including plenty of complex carbohydrate foods (brown rice/pasta, quinoa, pulses) to ensure you have an adequate energy supply.“Add protein, including eggs, meat, fish, pulses and cheese to those complex carbs and you get slow release energy which keeps you going for hours.“Other excellent edible energisers are apple or banana with nut butter or a handful of mixed nuts or Vitamin C and B-rich chestnuts.”

Vitamin D

It’s winter, the days in the run up to Christmas are short and we get less daylight and sunlight which could mean your vitamin D levels are low – your body converts sunlight into Vitamin D. Symptoms of deficiency can be vague but generally include general aches and pains and an overall feeling of tiredness. Good food sources are salmon, sardines, mackerel, red meat and eggs but Public Health England released recommendations earlier this year that all adults in the UK could benefit from a 10mcg supplement between October and March. Try Healthspan Super Strength Vitamin D3.



Dr Megan Arroll, psychologist, said: “During the holidays we tend to push ourselves and run ourselves ragged. But don’t wait until you’re burnt out, instead pace yourself with regular rest and relaxation breaks even if it is just five minutes. Go for a walk, find a quiet place for a spot of mindfulness to help re-energise.“If you can’t manage to get outdoors put a few drops of bergamot essential oil on a tissue and inhale deeply – a 2015 study – by the Department of Immunology at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan, found bergamot helped banish feelings of tiredness. If you’re suffering with brain fog and having trouble concentrating try peppermint essential oil.”


It’s obvious, but people will be tired if they haven’t had enough sleep. Problem is, at  Christmas the endless round of parties and catch ups tend to get in the way of your regular sleep routine.You know how many hours you need to function efficiently  – experts recommend around 6 to 9 hours – and if you do have a few late nights try to get back into your usual bedtime.There is also mounting evidence that daily power naps can work wonders on your energy levels – some offices are even introducing nap pods to allow staff to have a little lunchtime sleep.  Optimum nap time is 10-20 minutes – which keeps people in the lighter stages of the sleep cycle so it’s easier for you to get going again.  The aim is to feel pleasantly recharged rather than groggy.


The Natural Hydration Council said one in 10 cases of tiredness are attributed to dehydration – so sip plenty of water or herbal teas – especially if you have been drinking alcohol the night before.Watery foods like fruit and vegetables will also help rehydrate you.While most of us turn to a coffee or tea for an instant caffeine buzz bear in mind there is a payback come down so best stick to a cup or two a day – and ideally go for a green tea which has less caffeine and more antioxidants.Also avoid any caffeinated drinks after 3pm as the effects can last up to 12 hours and interfere with sleep.



The more people move, the better equipped they are to produce more energy. Researchers at the University of Georgia found those who complained of tiredness increased their energy levels by 20 per cent with regular low intensity exercise like walking.Whatever exercise you choose encourages oxygen-rich blood to pump through your body to the heart,  muscles and brain, making you feel more alert.At least try to squeeze a walk into your day and move around whenever you can – pace up and down on the phone, deliver a message to a colleague in person rather than emailing it.If you sit for too long blood vessels have a tendency to constrict, which reduce energy levels.


All the racing around and late nights in the build up to Christmas can rob the body of essential nutrients and leave people flagging.People need to aim for as balanced a diet as you can but certain substances can give you an extra little energising push like Co-enzymeQ10, a naturally occurring enzyme found in every cell of the body and dubbed the ‘biochemical spark plug’ due to its essential role in energy production.It also helps the liver to break down toxins and is a potent antioxidant – which can help build immunity.Co-enzymeQ10 is produced naturally in the body  – although levels decline with age – and food sources include seafood, meats and peanuts. You might benefit from a top up in supplement form like Healthspan’s Co-enzyme Q10 or Ubiquinol ‘body ready’ Q10.


Understanding the Benefits of Spinal Rehab

 Understanding the Benefits of Spinal Rehab
Your spine is one of the most vital parts of your body. We rely on it to carry our weight, deliver muscles to adjoining limbs, and to remain strong during times of stress and over use. This major part is also, in part, for controlling blood flow and nerves to different organs and limbs. There are several reasons why the spine can begin to fail us. Vehicle accidents, sports-related injuries, and repetition are ways that the spine can become out of alignment or injured. Back rehab can lead you to a sensible way to getting on the mend, without intrusive surgery.

Spinal Rehabilitation begins with the diagnosis of a trained physician and creates a program that relieves pressure, strengthens tissue, and stabilized the spine. Here at Go Good Guru we have   physical therapy experts can create a program for your personal spine limitations, and work to rehabilitate the precise areas back to a manageable comfort level.

Types of Spinal Impairments
Sciatica is a pain that occurs in the lower back at the sciatica nerve. When this nerve becomes pinched or irritated by another back problem, an electric-type pain can shoot down one of the legs.

A Herniated Disc is becoming common among aging baby boomers. The rubbery inserts, or discs in between the individual vertebrae bones become worn and begin to leak into adjoining nerves. This creates pain or numbness in arms or legs.

Lower back pain can be attributed to normal aging, straining of back muscles, arthritis, herniated discs, injury or illness. It always begins in the lumbar region of the spine and can cause excruciating pain.

Other types of spinal problems include scoliosis, whiplash, rib pain, thoracic pain and neck pain. They are all associated with the spinal column and some type of dysfunction within.

Spinal rehab is instrumental in treatment methods that have been proven and allows the body to naturally mend itself through different types of treatments. Everything from aquatic therapy to total joint rehabilitation are tools that trained specialists use in coaxing the spine to return to a more natural state. If you have had different types of procedures and nothing seems beneficial, you owe it to yourself to visit a clinic where advanced technology and natural healing is used. Learning what your body is going through and how to control is the first step in caring for your spine.


Keep Your Kids Active and Injury-Free

The benefits of youth sports and exercise far outweigh the risks, health experts say. And there are a number of things parents can do to help prevent injuries. For starters, look for a sport or exercise program that’s a match for your child’s ability and interests, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests. Enroll children in organized sports with properly maintained facilities. Make sure coaches are trained in first aid and CPR, and have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should also be experienced in the proper use of equipment and enforce rules on equipment use, the agency advised in a news release. Parents should know that some organized sports programs include adult staff who are certified athletic trainers who know how to prevent, recognize and provide immediate care for sports injuries, according to the NIH.

 In addition, the agency offered the following tips:
  • Children should always use proper safety gear for their sport. They should also know and follow the safety rules.
  • Before and after exercise, warm-ups and cool-downs should be mandatory.
  • Kids should have access to water or sports drinks, and should drink frequently to stay properly hydrated.
  • Sunscreen and a hat (when possible) should be used to reduce the risk of sunburn.
If your child suffers a soft tissue injury (such as a sprain or strain) or a bone injury, the best immediate treatment is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Professional medical treatment is required for severe injuries such as fractures, joint dislocations, prolonged swelling, or prolonged and severe pain. Despite the risk of injury, exercise and sports are important for children. Physical activity reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes, helps improve social skills and sense of well-being, and helps kids learn team skills, the national health experts explained. More than 38 million U.S. children and teens engage in organized sports each year, and many more participate in informal recreational activities, the NIH release noted.

READMORE… health.usnews.com