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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Improve Memory and Prevent Brain Deterioration

Human memory is a truly amazing phenomenon. It is always a source of wonder that seemingly insignificant occurrences may create lasting memories for one person while other people cannot even recall details of major events in their life. There are many factors that influence this apparent disparity.

It is sometimes said that a healthy brain never forgets anything. Unless affected by injury or disease the brain never loses anything. Forgetting something is actually a result of:

1. Not storing the facts properly in the first place.

2. Failure to store the facts in a manner in which they can be recalled.

3. Inability to recall facts at the time although they are still safely recorded in the brain. Who among us has not had the experience of "forgetting" something only to have it pop into consciousness at the most unlikely time?

Problem 1 can be overcome by concentration. If one is distracted and does not store facts to start with then there is very little chance of recalling them later. Memory has two phases - Short Term and Long Term Memory. It is believed that up to 50 percent of information we receive is lost almost immediately and a further 20 percent vanishes within 24 hours. An example would be a telephone number or other ten digit number. Unless a special effort is made its gone almost instantly. Some of these short term memories go on to become long term memories. For instance your best friend's phone number would have started out as a short term memory but has now become part of long term memory and can be readily recalled several years later. Scientists are still uncertain as to the exact reasons why some facts are lost while others go on to create lasting memories. However, it is safe to assume that some special importance is attached to that information for one reason or another. In the world of information overload we live in there are constant distractions and information competing for attention. Chances of recalling facts are significantly improved by paying attention to those that we need to remember later.

There are several techniques that can be used to ensure sufficient attention to important facts. The most common among them would be repetition. Most of us would probably recall having learnt our multiplication tables in this way. Writing notes and personalizing the facts ie. writing ideas in one's own words also helps. However, it is important not to fall into the trap of relying on notes as a substitute for remembering. Notes should be used to reinforce a memory not as an alternative to it. Writing down facts surrounding and supporting an idea as well as the theory and methodology leading up to certain facts also help in recall. Complex mathematical formulae would be an example. Formulae comprised of abstract symbols and numbers can usually be quite hard to recall on their own. However, if one commits to memory the principles from which the formula is derived the symbols often become a lot easier to recall. Understanding the concepts behind the final outcome makes things less fuzzy. The fuzzier things are the harder they are to remember. Breaking down facts into manageable chunks to concentrate on helps immensely as well as there is a limit on how much information can be assimilated at a given time. Avoiding distractions is another important consideration in ensuring that the facts are stored right - it is a lot harder replace incorrect information than it is to store it right in the first place.

Problems 2 and 3 are closely connected to how we recall information. Memories are made by creating connections - connections with experiences through all our senses. Perhaps you have had the experience of a smell or sound triggering a memory of long ago. The more connections we create the better the chances of recall. This is why mnemonics are commonly used as an aid to memory. The more ridiculous or unusual the association the more likely it is to be recalled rather than fade into insignificance among the millions of other connections. Using mental pegs is another technique that works very well. Associate facts with unusual images or rhymes. For instance to remember names and faces one may look at a prominent facial feature, create an exaggerated version of it and connect it with the name. Say Leon with rather long hair may become a mental image of a Lion with a mane. Lion then quickly converts to Leon making it a lot easier than simply trying to recall the name of the guy with long hair!

Unfortunately as we age our brains begin to degenerate and memory deteriorates along with it. There are 4 main reasons for this degeneration.

1. Reduction in Neurotransmitters, especially acetylcholine causes decline in brain function.

2. Reduced blood circulation. The brain uses a significant proportion of all blood. Any impediment to blood flow therefore has a huge impact on brain function.

3. Effects of Cortisol. As a response to stresses cortisol is produced in the brain which damages the cells in the Hippocampus. The Hippocampus is instrumental in converting short term memories to long term ones. The damage in the hippocampus also triggers further production of cortisol setting off a ever increasing cycle of cell damage.

4. Free radical damage. Free radicals are atoms that have an electron imbalance and are constantly seeking to steal an electron to make itself whole. This process of stealing electrons from cells causes cell damage. Brain cells are no exception and brain cell damage also occurs due to free radical activity.

There are many common sense approaches to limiting and preventing brain degeneration:

* Proper diet - limit intake of salt cholesterol and fat while eating plenty of fresh fruits and foods high in antioxidants.
* Regular Exercise - avoid becoming overweight.

* Control Blood pressure

* Control and limit stress

* Limiting alcohol intake and not smoking helps reduce free radical damage.

* Increase intake of Omega 3 fatty acids - found in large quantities in fish -helps combat free radical damage.

* Avoid even minor head trauma - When engaging in activities which could result in jarring of the brain use adequate protection. Regular jarring, even minor levels has been connected with higher incidence of dementia.

There are also several not so obvious strategies that have emerged from recent studies into the brain.

Depression can affect the way the brain processes information and retrieves it. Therefore avoiding or minimizing depression can positively impact on brain function in later years. Socializing and involvement with family and community activities is recommended.

Mental exercise. "Use it or lose it". Stimulating your brain with mental exercises such as crossword puzzles, board games or even taking up a new hobby or learning a musical instrument has been shown to increase the number of brain cells and connections between brain cells. These activities improve what is known as "Brain Plasticity".

Herbal supplements such as Gingko Biloba which is credited with improving blood circulation may help to deter the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

While aging and its consequences cannot be halted it is clear that there is much that can be done to improve brain health and memory.

Tips for Gym Newbies

Beginning a workout regime at the gym can be overwhelming in many different ways. If you haven't been before (or haven't been for a long time) it can seem as though everyone knows what they're doing but you. You worry about looking stupid, or about what people will think about your body, or about whether you'll remember everything you've been told.

The first day is usually okay (because most gyms provide an introductory session on how to operate the machines) - but the second day can be confusing and even embarrassing, unless you've signed up with a personal trainer. You're quite likely to find that you can't remember which machines you're supposed to use, or even how they work.

Relax. Everyone goes through it. You'll find it easier on the third day, and by the fourth you'll be feeling quite confident. Within weeks you'll be powering through your exercises as though you were born in the gym!

Here are a few tips that might ease the way in the first few weeks:

1. If you're a complete beginner, it might be worth your while to sign up with a personal trainer for at least a couple of sessions, until you're feeling more confident. Otherwise, go with a friend. If you're both new, you can muddle through together. If your friend is experienced, he/she will help you out.

2. Take a notepad and pen with you for your introductory session. Write down the name of the machine and its position in the gym as well as a few words that will remind you what you're supposed to do on it. (Some machines can be used in several different ways.)

3. Don't hesitate to ask a staff member for help if you can't adjust the machine for your weight and height, or if you can't remember exactly how it works. They won't mind showing you again. They want their customers to keep coming back!

4. Don't push yourself too hard to begin with. If you work out so hard that you can barely walk, you'll be tempted to miss a day while you recover. One day doesn't matter much, but if you continually skip days because you're too sore, you're likely to drop out altogether. What's the hurry? After a few weeks, when your body is getting used to the extra exercise, you can increase the intensity.

5. If your knees and ankles react badly to increasing the speed on the treadmill, try increasing the grade instead. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that a slower speed, with the treadmill on an incline, burns more calories than jogging.

6. Smile and nod to the other gym users, but don't hold up their workout programs by chatting. As you become recognized as a regular, you will find that you gravitate to your own little group - probably people who have the same goals and needs as you do.

7. Wear comfortable clothing - either loose or with plenty of stretch. Avoid the temptation to buy workout gear that's two sizes too small in the hope that you'll lose weight quickly. (You might well shed those pounds fast - but if it takes longer that you'd anticipated, you'll always be conscious of those too-tight clothes.)

8. Don't worry about being overweight. In a way, it's good to start off with quite a few excess pounds to lose - your success is much more noticeable than it is on slimmer gym users, and you'll find the positive comments really motivating. Make sure you get a 'before' photo of yourself at the gym when you start out. After a few months, you'll be amazed at the difference.

9. If you're considerably overweight, you are likely to find that your stomach gets in the way on some machines. Just do what you can. You might feel better just increasing your fitness and losing some weight on the treadmill for the first month or so, then moving on to the machines when moving and stretching is more comfortable. Consider doing a few laps in the pool (either walking or swimming) as well as your other gym work. The water will help to support your weight and provide variety.

10. Try to find a happy medium between challenging yourself and resting on your laurels. If you can easily manage three sets at the current weight, try increasing it for the first set. If you can do twenty minutes on the treadmill without sweating, then increase either the speed or the grade (or both!) Remember... "if nothing changes, then nothing changes!"

One final tip: once you have decided on your regular gym days, resolve that nothing but an emergency will stop you going. Make your gym attendance a habit - and before too long, the exciting results will have you trying to convert all your friends to becoming exercise lovers too!

How much does fishing cost?



If you get serious about fishing, it can cost you a lot of money. Everything that is related to fishing costs money. Starting with the rod and reel, working your way through to the fishing line, hooks, sinkers, floats, burley, lures you soon build up a huge list of things that are purchased. Then, you buy a second rod because one won't do everything that you want it to, along with another reel, fishing line and fishing tackle. Most people who go fishing regularly have at least 3 rods. One is usually a big beach rod with an egg beater reel, another is a boat fishing rod with an overhead reel and some heavy braid line, and the other rod is a smaller one used for freshwater fishing or light river fishing.

Then, the costs don't end there. You have to purchase bait every time you go out, along with burley too. Bait can cost over 15 dollars per person each time you are going out, and even more if you are trying to catch big fish. Worse still, there is no guarantee that you are going to get anything; you can spend that money and come back empty handed. Now, whilst it seems unfair to make fishing sound like such a bad sport, there is a good reason. You should take up spearfishing! To get you motivated, have a look on Youtube for a good Spearfishing Video – there are plenty online.

Unlike fishing, once you purchase what you need (speargun, Spearfishing float and basic snorkeling gear) you have very limited costs. From time to time you need to replace the gun rubbers and the line, but other than this you really have to pay very little. Every time you go out its free and you have a much greater chance of bringing something back in. However, the money spent on fishing is well worth it; fishing and spearfishing are both great sports and everyone should enjoy them!

How To Choose The Right Size WetsuitWhen

How To Choose The Right Size WetsuitWhen choosing a wetsuit one of the most important factors to consider is the fit and cut of a wetsuit. How the neoprene fits and sits against the body is a key factor in the overall performance, especially flexibility. The wetsuit must not be too tight on the limbs, shoulders or chest as this will restrict flexibility and cause un-comfort. Make sure the arms are not restricted in any way and can move freely. If the feeling of force against movement of the arms and shoulders is present and doesn't feel natural then the wetsuit is more than likely too tight. Signs to look out for are difficult to stand up straight, shoulders are forced inwards, trouble breathing or if the wetsuits hurts in anyway. These are the signs the wetsuit is too tight. Having a loose fit wetsuit causes water to enter frequently. Wetsuits are designed to hold water between the body and the neoprene layer. This water warms up against the body and acts as a thermal insulation layer. When a wetsuit is too loose fresh cold water can enter the suit on a regular basis and the insulation layer turns into the opposite by keeping the temperature low. For best fit the neoprene should rest firmly against the skin without any air in between. If you can see big gaps of air filled folds in the fit or can pull the neoprene away from your body easily then chances are the suit is too loose. To cater for the varying body shapes and sizes, wetsuits come in a number of different sizes ranging from really small fits to tall and triple xl sizes. The normal sizing structure applies, extra small, small, medium, large and extra large, but because the sizes of the wetsuits cover the body from neck to ankle and they need to be a more exact fit, the manufacturers introduced sizes that apply specifically to wetsuits. The main difference is the application of small, tall or large to regular sizes. For example ST stands for Small Tall, MS for medium small and ML for medium large. Here's a list of the most common wetsuit sizes available. XXS, XS, S, MS, M, MT, ML, LS, L, LT, XL, XXL The more common sizes of medium and large cater for the biggest share of people and these sizes have been broken down the most into sub sizes. MS - Medium Small for someone requiring shorter sleeves and legs. MT - Medium Tall designed for a taller shape of average weight. ML - Medium Large for a body that carries a fuller heavier build but of normal height. LS - Large Small is usually for shorter sleeves and legs. LT - large tall is for someone tall for his weight requiring longer arms and legs. Remember that new and dry wetsuits will feel snugger than ones that have been well used and are wet.

When choosing a wetsuit one of the most important factors to consider is the fit and cut of a wetsuit. How the neoprene fits and sits against the body is a key factor in the overall performance, especially flexibility. The wetsuit must not be too tight on the limbs, shoulders or chest as this will restrict flexibility and cause un-comfort. Make sure the arms are not restricted in any way and can move freely. If the feeling of force against movement of the arms and shoulders is present and doesn't feel natural then the wetsuit is more than likely too tight. Signs to look out for are difficult to stand up straight, shoulders are forced inwards, trouble breathing or if the wetsuits hurts in anyway. These are the signs the wetsuit is too tight. Having a loose fit wetsuit causes water to enter frequently. Wetsuits are designed to hold water between the body and the neoprene layer. This water warms up against the body and acts as a thermal insulation layer. When a wetsuit is too loose fresh cold water can enter the suit on a regular basis and the insulation layer turns into the opposite by keeping the temperature low. For best fit the neoprene should rest firmly against the skin without any air in between. If you can see big gaps of air filled folds in the fit or can pull the neoprene away from your body easily then chances are the suit is too loose. To cater for the varying body shapes and sizes, wetsuits come in a number of different sizes ranging from really small fits to tall and triple xl sizes. The normal sizing structure applies, extra small, small, medium, large and extra large, but because the sizes of the wetsuits cover the body from neck to ankle and they need to be a more exact fit, the manufacturers introduced sizes that apply specifically to wetsuits. The main difference is the application of small, tall or large to regular sizes. For example ST stands for Small Tall, MS for medium small and ML for medium large. Here's a list of the most common wetsuit sizes available. XXS, XS, S, MS, M, MT, ML, LS, L, LT, XL, XXL The more common sizes of medium and large cater for the biggest share of people and these sizes have been broken down the most into sub sizes. MS - Medium Small for someone requiring shorter sleeves and legs. MT - Medium Tall designed for a taller shape of average weight. ML - Medium Large for a body that carries a fuller heavier build but of normal height. LS - Large Small is usually for shorter sleeves and legs. LT - large tall is for someone tall for his weight requiring longer arms and legs. Remember that new and dry wetsuits will feel snugger than ones that have been well used and are wet.