The “felt” age may reflect the true age of your brain +++ Das “gefühlte” Alter kann das wahre Alter des Gehirns widerspiegeln

New research shows that people who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain

Recent research by a team of researchers of the Seoul National University in Korea demonstrates that people’s “subjective age” — rather than their objective age — accurately predicts how young a brain really looks.

As people get older, their bodies will go through many changes. As for the brain, it also has a range of specific age-related signs that show that mental agility may start to decline.

The researchers Seyul Kwak, Hairin Kim, Jeanyung Chey and Yoosik Youm used MRI to detect signs of aging in the brains of 68 healthy people aged 59–84. They also used age-prediction modeling techniques to examine the changes in the participants’ gray matter volume. All study participants filled in a survey that asked them to answer questions about how young they felt.

The scientists conclude: “Our findings suggest that subjective experience of aging is closely related to the process of brain aging and underscores the neurobiological mechanisms of [subjective age] as an important marker of late-life neurocognitive health.”

In short: People who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain.

The researchers explain that this difference remains robust even when other possible factors, including personality, subjective health, depressive symptoms, or cognitive functions, are accounted for.

However, the processes behind this surprising link remain largely unexplained. The scientists suggest that, in what seems like a positive “self-fulfilling prophecy,” people who feel younger tend to engage in more physically and intellectually stimulating activities. On the other hand, if this is true, the opposite might happen to those who feel older.

Neue Studien zeigen, dass Menschen, die sich jünger fühlen, strukturelle Merkmale eines jüngeren Gehirns haben

Jüngste Forschungen eines Teams von Forschern der Seoul National University in Korea zeigen, dass das “subjektive Alter” der Menschen – und nicht ihr objektives Alter – genau vorhersagt, wie jung ein Gehirn wirklich aussieht.

Wenn Menschen älter werden, durchlaufen ihre Körper viele Veränderungen. Was das Gehirn betrifft, so gibt es auch eine Reihe spezifischer altersbezogener Anzeichen, die zeigen, dass die geistige Beweglichkeit abzunehmen beginnt.

Die Forscher Seyul Kwak, Hairin Kim, Jeanyung Chey und Yoosik Youm nutzten MRT, um Anzeichen von Alterung in den Gehirnen von 68 gesunden Menschen im Alter von 59 bis 84 Jahren zu erkennen. Sie verwendeten auch Altersprädiktions-Modellierungsverfahren, um die Veränderungen im Volumen der grauen Substanz der Teilnehmer zu untersuchen. Alle Studienteilnehmer füllten einen Fragebogen aus, der sie aufforderte, Fragen darüber zu beantworten, wie jung sie sich fühlten.

Die Wissenschaftler schließen daraus: “Unsere Ergebnisse legen nahe, dass die subjektive Erfahrung des Alterns eng mit dem Prozess des Alterns des Gehirns verbunden ist und die neurobiologischen Mechanismen des [subjektiven Alters] als wichtigen Marker der neurokognitiven Gesundheit des späten Lebens unterstreicht.”

Kurz gesagt: Menschen, die sich jünger fühlen, haben die strukturellen Merkmale eines jüngeren Gehirns.

Die Forscher erklären, dass dieser Unterschied robust bleibt, auch wenn andere mögliche Faktoren wie Persönlichkeit, subjektive Gesundheit, depressive Symptome oder kognitive Funktionen berücksichtigt werden.

Die Prozesse hinter dieser überraschenden Verbindung bleiben jedoch weitgehend ungeklärt. Die Wissenschaftler vermuten, dass Menschen, die sich jünger fühlen, in einer scheinbar positiven “sich selbst erfüllenden Prophezeiung” körperlich und intellektuell stimulierende Aktivitäten ausüben. Wenn das stimmt könnte das Gegenteil passieren, wenn Menschen sich älter fühlen.

Original Research Article published by:

Kwak, S., Kim, H., Chey, J., & Youm, Y. (2018). Feeling How Old I Am: Subjective Age Is Associated With Estimated Brain Age. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 10, 168.

“My sport is my medicine” / “Mein Sport ist meine Medizin”

A few days ago a colleague said to me, “you always look so happy, keep taking those drugs!”

I know he was trying to make a joke, so I replied “my sport is my medicine!”

Afterwards I thought about this short conversation a bit more.  I have written about the link between mental wellbeing and being physical active.  I also wrote about the link between weightlifing and emotional wellbeing.

I compete in powerlifting and train 4 times a week. On my rest days, I enjoy walking, jogging and a bit of gardening, anything that gets me out into the fresh air.

I think that my competitive sport and being physical active enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – my hectic personal life, my professional as well as my scholarly work, as described in the blog My Powerlifting Journey.  Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week, always feeling energized afterwards.

I have setbacks in my life, just like everybody else, and with my sport I found a way of dealing with them.

Vor ein paar Tagen sagte ein Kollege zu mir: “Du siehst immer so glücklich aus, nimm weiter diese Drogen!”

Ich weiß, dass er versucht hat, einen Witz zu machen, also antwortete ich “mein Sport ist meine Medizin!”

Danach dachte ich ein wenig über diese kurze Unterhaltung nach. Ich habe über den Zusammenhang zwischen geistigem Wohlbefinden und körperlicher Aktivität geschrieben. Ich habe auch über den Zusammenhang zwischen Gewichtheben und emotionalem Wohlbefinden geschrieben.

Mein Sport is Powerlifting und trainiere 4 Mal pro Woche. An meinen Ruhetagen genieße ich Spaziergänge, Joggen und ein wenig Gartenarbeit, alles, was mich an die frische Luft bringt.

Ich denke, dass mein Sport und meine körperliche Aktivität es mir ermöglichen, die anderen Aspekte meines Lebens zu bewältigen – mein hektisches Privatleben, meine professionelle wie auch meine akademische Arbeit, wie im Blog Meine Powerlifting-Reise beschrieben. Dank meines Sports kann ich für ein paar Stunden in der Woche komplett abschalten und fühle mich danach immer wieder energiegeladen.

Ich habe Rückschläge in meinem Leben, genau wie alle anderen Menschen, und mit meinem Sport habe ich einen Weg gefunden, mit ihnen umzugehen.

 

 

 

Healthy Ireland /Eine gesunde Initiative aus Irland

Press Release from the Department of Health, Ireland,  07 June 2018

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, with Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne TD, launched the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign in the Phoenix Park today.

The Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign seeks to encourage people to get out and get active together this summer – whether walking with a group, visiting some of our many parks and heritage sites with family or sharing a salad or summer fruit with friends.

Building on January’s Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign, which encouraged people to make a small, healthy change, the Summer campaign highlights the benefits of making those changes with others – getting out and feeling good together. Research shows that starting a healthy habit with someone, such as a family member, friend or colleague, is more likely to last than if you do it alone.

These positive changes are focused on three key areas: eating more healthily, being more active, and minding our mental wellbeing. With the opportunities that the summer brings – longer days and better weather, along with healthy, seasonal fruit and veg – people are encouraged to ‘pause the box set’ and take the opportunity to be outdoors, to connect with others in our communities and enjoy our natural amenities. Healthy Ireland, along with all of our partners, provides support and information to help people make these healthy choices.

Speaking at the launch of the Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign the Taoiseach said “The message of the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign is simple; small steps can make a big difference to your health, you just need to start. And if you start with someone else, you’re more likely to make a lasting change. We’re encouraging everyone to get involved with your neighbours, friends and family or through Healthy Ireland partner organisations to join a group that can help you to take that first step to a healthier lifestyle. Summer is here and it’s an ideal time to plan to get outdoors more often, to enjoy our parks and other amenities, to go for a walk or a run or just take a mental break. These positive and sustainable changes can help us all build a healthy Ireland.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “Healthy Ireland is about supporting people to improve their own health and wellbeing. This summer provides us all with a new opportunity to take those first steps to a healthy change. Creating a healthier Ireland is a job for us all and means every Government Department and every sector playing their part to achieve that vision. I’d like to thank all of our partners for their hard work and support. If everyone made one small change this summer, it would add up to a big change for the health of the whole population.”

Healthy Ireland is a major Government-led programme to encourage and support everyone living in Ireland to have the best possible physical and mental health and wellbeing.

This campaign looks to build on the work done by Healthy Ireland over the past three years, as well as a first phase of the 2018 Communications Campaign launched in January. The implementation of Healthy Ireland involves significant collaborative, cross-governmental work to develop and implement policies to address our major public health challenges such as obesity, smoking and physical inactivity, and to ensure related policy areas, such as education, planning, transport, rural and community development are aligned to facilitate and prioritise health and wellbeing.

Visit gov.ie/healthyireland and follow #healthyireland and #feelgoodtogether to find out about the changes you can make, and to find resources, tips and ways to get involved.

Implementing Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign with “Team Kitty”

Happy to make these healthy changes with “Team Kitty”: Moving weight training  outdoors 🙂

Kitty the cat outside with stones
Kitty the cat discovers new sporty opportunities.
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin outdoors
Weightlifting with Kitty the cat
Weightlifting Training outdoors
Making the best out of the beautiful Irish summer: Weightlifting training outdoors

Pressemitteilung des Gesundheitsministeriums, Irland, 7. Juni 2018

An Taoiseach (Irischer Premierminister) Leo Varadkar TD, mit Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris TD und Ministerin für Gesundheitsförderung Catherine Byrne TD, startete heute die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018” der Regierung im Phoenix Park.

Die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland 2018” möchte Menschen dazu ermutigen, diesen Sommer gemeinsam aktiv zu werden, zum Beispiel  mit einer Gruppe spazieren gehen, mit der Familie einige der vielen Parks und Kulturstätten besuchen oder mit Freunden einen Salat oder Obst essen.

Aufbauend auf die “Healthy Ireland” -Kampagne, die die Menschen zu kleinen, gesunden Veränderungen ermutigt, hebt die Sommerkampagne die Vorteile hervor, diese Aktivitäten gemeinsam mit anderen zu machen. Die Forschung zeigt, daß es wahrscheinlicher ist, eine gesunde Gewohnheit beizubehalten, wenn man sie mit einem Familienmitglied, einem Freund oder Kollegen durchführt.

Diese positiven Veränderungen konzentrieren sich auf drei Bereiche: gesünder essen, aktiver sein und geistiges Wohlbefinden fördern. Mit den Möglichkeiten, die der Sommer bringt – längere Tage und besseres Wetter, zusammen mit gesundem, saisonalem Obst und Gemüse – werden die Menschen ermutigt, die “Box –Sets” zu pausieren und die Gelegenheit zu nutzen, sich mit anderen zu treffen und Natur, Parks und Strände zu genießen. Healthy Ireland bietet zusammen mit all unseren Partnern Unterstützung und Informationen, um Menschen dabei zu helfen, diese gesunden Entscheidungen zu treffen.

Der Taoiseach sagte beim Start der Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018”: “Die Botschaft der Kampagne” Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 ” ist einfach; kleine Schritte können einen großen Einfluss auf Ihre Gesundheit haben, Sie müssen nur beginnen. Und wenn Sie mit anderen zusammen beginnen, ist es wahrscheinlicher diese Veränderungen beizubehalten. Wir ermuntern alle dazu, sich mit ihren Nachbarn, Freunden und Familienmitgliedern oder durch gesunde Partnerorganisationen in Irland einer Gruppe anzuschließen, die Ihnen helfen kann, den ersten Schritt zu einem gesünderen Lebensstil zu machen. Der Sommer ist da und es ist eine ideale Zeit, um öfter ins Freie zu gehen, unsere Parks und andere Annehmlichkeiten zu genießen, spazieren zu gehen oder einfach nur eine mentale Pause zu machen. Diese positiven und nachhaltigen Veränderungen können uns allen helfen, ein gesundes Irland aufzubauen. ”

Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris sagte: “Bei einem gesunden Irland geht es darum, Menschen dabei zu unterstützen, ihre eigene Gesundheit und ihr Wohlbefinden zu verbessern. Dieser Sommer bietet uns allen eine neue Chance, diese ersten Schritte zu machen. Ein gesünderes Irland zu schaffen, ist eine Aufgabe für uns alle und bedeutet, dass jede Regierungsbehörde und jeder Sektor ihren Teil dazu beiträgt, diese Vision zu verwirklichen. Ich möchte allen unseren Partnern für ihre harte Arbeit und Unterstützung danken. Wenn jeder in diesem Sommer eine kleine Veränderung vornehmen würde, würde dies eine große Veränderung für die Gesundheit der gesamten Bevölkerung bedeuten. ”

Healthy Ireland ist ein wichtiges Regierungsprogramm zur Förderung und Unterstützung aller in Irland lebenden Menschen, um die bestmögliche körperliche und geistige Gesundheit und Wohlbefinden zu erreichen. Die „Sommer 2018- Kampagne“ soll auf die Arbeit von Healthy Ireland aufbauen, die vor drei Jahren gestartet wurde. Die Umsetzung von “Healthy Ireland” erfordert eine umfassende Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Regierungsabteilungen Bildung, Verkehr und Landwirtschaft, damit Strategien zur Bewältigung der großen gesundheitlichen Herausforderungen wie zum Beispiel Adipositas, Rauchen und Bewegungsmangel umgesetzt werden können.  Besuchen Sie gov.ie/healthyireland und folgen Sie #healthyireland und #feelgoodtogether um herauszufinden, welche Änderungen Sie vornehmen können und um Ressourcen, Tipps und Möglichkeiten zu finden, sich zu engagieren.

 

Health and Wellbeing: Active Ageing for Older Adults in Ireland

Evidence from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing)  researches the impact on the health and well-being of Ireland’s adult population aged 54 years and over and maps changes that have occurred since the first wave of TILDA data collection in 2010. Potent factors which influence health and well-being are volunteering, caring, financial transfers, health insurance coverage, health care utilisation, health screening, diet, medication use and prophylaxis such as vaccination uptake.

Key Findings

Older adults in Ireland contribute to and benefit from their extended family and the communities in which they live.

  • Within the last two years, one quarter of adults in Ireland aged 54 years and over with living parents assisted their parent(s) with basic personal care while 43% provided help with other activities such as household chores, errands, shopping, and transportation. Half of older adults also provided financial help to their parent(s).
  • The majority of children remain geographically close to their parents: Two thirds of adults aged 54 years and over have children either living with them or in the same county.
  • Older adults in Ireland who have children are more likely to provide financial assistance to their children (48%) than receive financial help from them (3%).
  •  Half (47%) of adults aged 54 to 64 years and 65 to 74 years (51%) provide regular childcare for their grandchildren for an average of 36 hours per month. Quality of life is higher in those who care regularly for their grandchildren.
  • More than half (53%) of older adults in Ireland volunteered at some time during the previous year with 17% doing so at least once per week. Retired adults and those with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to do so. Frequent volunteering is associated with better quality of life and fewer depressive  symptoms.
  •  Sixty percent of the older population take part in active and social leisure activities at least once per week, while 47% are involved in formal organisations, such as sports or social clubs. Social participation is associated with better quality of life and fewer depressive symptoms, however levels of participation decrease with age.

 

Weightlifting and the Positive Effects on Emotional Wellbeing

Since I started with powerlifting about two and a half years ago I noticed the positive effect the sport has on my mood. There is this calmness I feel after a good workout as I mentioned in a previous blog (My Powerlifting Journey).

Other powerlifters have also described the relaxation aspect of this sport and the reduction of anger, the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. When I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose. This is a quiet and meditative moment, nothing else matters but lifting the weight.

Now research finds that resistance training is useful in warding off depression and mental health problems. A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry international journal indicates that strength training or weight lifting has positive effects on mental health.
This large-scale study found that resistance training was comparable in effect to frontline treatments such as antidepressant and behavioural therapies. The review, comprising 1,877 participants in total, also found that strength training or weightlifting “is free from the negative side-effects and high costs of many medications and therapies”, according to Brett R Gordon of the Physical Education and Sport Sciences Department at University of Limerick.
The study found that depressive symptoms among participants taking part in the training fell regardless of whether they were healthy or had an illness, or whether they actually built up their physical strength during the research.
The positive effects of resistance exercise training on participants’ mental health did not increase the more sessions they took part in and researchers noted that further research is needed to “explore the optimal resistance exercise training routine” for dealing with depression.

 

Keeping fit at all ages – yesterday in Malahide/Gestern in Malahide

Yesterday I took a rest from my powerlifting training and went for a morning walk in Malahide, a small town in North County Dublin, Ireland. Within one hour of walking I was able to visit the Malahide Marina, Malahide Castle and the Malahide Village. I also noticed the many people being active, either jogging, running, walking or cycling. There was a park run on, organised by parkrun.ie and sponsored among others by Healthy Ireland.  About a hundred people participated, young and old. Great to see so many people of all ages being active, and all that at 9.30 in the morning!

Meanwhile my son Christian was playing golf in Malahide Golfclub. To his surprise he noticed number of non-golfers – a family of foxes, as shown in his video!

Gestern nahm ich eine Auszeit von meinem Powerlifting-Training und machte stattdessen einen Morgenspaziergang in Malahide, einer kleinen Stadt in North County Dublin, Irland. Innerhalb einer Stunde konnte ich den Malahide Yachthafen, das Malahide Schloss und das Malahide Village besuchen. Ich bemerkte auch, dass viele Leute aktiv waren, entweder Joggen, Laufen oder Radfahren. Es gab einen Park Run, der von parkrun.ie organisiert und unter anderem von Healthy Ireland gesponsert wurde. Ungefähr hundert Leute nahmen teil, jung und alt. Toll, so viele Menschen jeden Alters aktiv zu sehen, und das alles um 9.30 Uhr morgens!

Inzwischen spielte mein Sohn Christian Golf im Malahide Golfclub. Zu seiner Überraschung bemerkte er einige Nicht-Golfer, eine Familie von Füchsen, wie sein Video zeigt!

 

The Yogi masters were right – breathing exercises can sharpen your mind

New research explains link between breath-focused meditation and brain health

It has long been claimed by Yogis and Buddhists that meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, strengthen our ability to focus on tasks. A new study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.

Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have numerous known cognitive benefits, including increased ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others. To date, however, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested.

The research shows for the first time that breathing – a key element of meditation and mindfulness practices – directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertiliser. The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

The study, carried out by researchers at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, found that participants who focused well while undertaking a task that demanded a lot of attention had greater synchronisation between their breathing patterns and their attention, than those who had poor focus. The authors believe that it may be possible to use breath-control practices to stabilise attention and boost brain health.

Michael Melnychuk, PhD candidate at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity, and lead author of the study, explained: “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is an all-purpose action system in the brain. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can’t focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can’t focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer.”

“This study has shown that as you breathe in locus coeruleus activity is increasing slightly, and as you breathe out it decreases. Put simply this means that our attention is influenced by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. It is possible that by focusing on and regulating your breathing you can optimise your attention level and likewise, by focusing on your attention level, your breathing becomes more synchronised.”

The research provides deeper scientific understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms which underlie ancient meditation practices. The findings were recently published in a paper entitled ‘Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama’ in the journal Psychophysiology. Further research could help with the development of non-pharmacological therapies for people with attention compromised conditions such as ADHD and traumatic brain injury and in supporting cognition in older people.

There are traditionally two types of breath-focused practices — those that emphasise focus on breathing (mindfulness), and those that require breathing to be controlled (deep breathing practices such as pranayama). In cases when a person’s attention is compromised, practices which emphasise concentration and focus, such as mindfulness, where the individual focuses on feeling the sensations of respiration but make no effort to control them, could possibly be most beneficial. In cases where a person’s level of arousal is the cause of poor attention, for example drowsiness while driving, a pounding heart during an exam, or during a panic attack, it should be possible to alter the level of arousal in the body by controlling breathing. Both of these techniques have been shown to be effective in both the short and the long term.

Ian Robertson, Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity and Principal Investigator of the study added: “Yogis and Buddhist practitioners have long considered the breath an especially suitable object for meditation. It is believed that by observing the breath, and regulating it in precise ways—a practice known as pranayama—changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator are realised. Our research finds that there is evidence to support the view that there is a strong connection between breath-centred practices and a steadiness of mind.”

“Our findings could have particular implications for research into brain ageing. Brains typically lose mass as they age, but less so in the brains of long term meditators. More ‘youthful’ brains have a reduced risk of dementia and mindfulness meditation techniques actually strengthen brain networks. Our research offers one possible reason for this – using our breath to control one of the brain’s natural chemical messengers, noradrenaline, which in the right ‘dose’ helps the brain grow new connections between cells. This study provides one more reason for everyone to boost the health of their brain using a whole range of activities ranging from aerobic exercise to mindfulness meditation.”

Reference:   Melnychuk, M.C., Dockree, P.M, O’Connell, R.G,  Murphy, P.R, Balsters, J.H,  Robertson, I.H. (2018). Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama, Psychophysiology,  https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13091

Source: Trinity News