Saturday November 17, 2018

Stronger people have sharper brains: Study

Previous research by the group has already found that aerobic exercise can improve brain health

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It is best to begin your gym workout with a dynamic warm-up routine. Pixabay
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 If you thought hitting the gym only builds your physical strength, think again. A study of nearly half a million people has revealed that stronger people perform better in brain functioning tests.

Muscular strength, measured by handgrip, is an indication of how healthy our brains are, said the study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

“Our study confirms that people who are stronger do indeed tend to have better functioning brains,” said study co-author Joseph Firth from NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia.

Strong people have sharper brains. Wikimedia Commons

Using data from the 475,397 participants from all around Britain, the new study showed that on average, stronger people performed better in brain functioning tests that included reaction speed, logical problem solving, and multiple different tests of memory.

The study, which used UK Biobank data, showed the relationships were consistently strong in both people aged under 55 and those aged over 55. Previous studies had only shown this applies in elderly people.

The findings also showed that maximal handgrip was strongly correlated with both visual memory and reaction time in over one thousand people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Also Read: Riding a bike to work as good as gym workout: Study

“We can see there is a clear connection between muscular strength and brain health,” Firth, who is also an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester in Britain, said. “But really, what we need now, are more studies to test if we can actually make our brains healthier by doing things which make our muscles stronger — such as weight training,” he added. Previous research by the group has already found that aerobic exercise can improve brain health. “These sorts of novel interventions, such as weight training, could be particularly beneficial for people with mental health conditions,” Firth said.

“Our research has shown that the connections between muscular strength and brain functioning also exist in people experiencing schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder — all of which can interfere with regular brain functioning,” he added. “This raises the strong possibility that weight training exercises could actually improve both the physical and mental functioning of people with these conditions,” he said. IANS

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Loneliness And Depression Can Be Linked to Social Media: Study

It is unclear if the depressing effects of social media will cross generational lines to older or younger people

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This photo taken March 22, 2018, shows apps for WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks on a smartphone. VOA

University of Pennsylvania researchers say that for the first time they have linked social media use to increases in depression and loneliness.

The idea that social media is anything but social when it comes to mental health has been talked about for years, but not many studies have managed to actually link the two.

To do that, Penn researchers, led by psychologist Melissa Hunt, designed a study that focused on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

The results were published in the November issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Social media. Offensive Speech
An iPhone with Twitter, Facebook and other apps, May 21, 2013. U.S. internet companies are taking a harder look at their policies that have promoted free expression around the world.. VOA

How study worked

The study was conducted with 143 participants, who before they began, completed a mood survey and sent along photos of their battery screens, showing how often they were using their phones to access social media.

“We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid,” Hunt said. That term, ecologically valid, means that the research attempts to mimic real life.

The study divided the participants into two groups: The first group was allowed to maintain their normal social media habits. The other, the control group, was restricted to 10 minutes per day on each of the three platforms: Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

The restrictions were put in place for three weeks and then the participants returned and were tested for outcomes such as fear of missing out (FOMO), anxiety, depression and loneliness.

Social Media
Chiara Valenzano, right, photographs her food as she has lunch with her friend Giulia Terranova at the ‘This is not a Sushi bar’ restaurant, in Milan, Italy, Oct. 16, 2018. At the restaurant, payment can be made according to the number of Instagram followers one has. VOA

Results of study

The results showed a very clear link between social media use and increased levels of depression and loneliness.

“Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,” Hunt said. “These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

She calls her findings the “grand irony” of social media.

What is it about social media that’s just so depressing?

Hunt says that it’s two major things. The first is that social media invites what Hunt calls “downward social comparison.” When you’re online, it can sometimes seem that “everyone else is cooler and having more fun and included in more things and you’re left out,” she said. And that’s just generally demoralizing.

Social Media
The study was conducted with 143 participants, who before they began, completed a mood survey Pixabay

The second factor is a bit more nuanced.

“Time is a zero-sum game,” Hunt told VOA. “Every minute you spend online is a minute you are not doing your work or not meeting a friend for dinner or having a deep conversation with your roommate.”

And these real life activities are the ones that can bolster self-esteem and self worth, Hunt said.

What to learn

So what’s the takeaway?

social media
A girl uses her mobile phone in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 5, 2017. A researcher in Britain says her findings suggest young girls who are more active on social media have lower levels of well-being in their teens. VOA

People are on their devices, and that’s not going to change, she said. But as in life, a bit of moderation goes a long way.

“In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life,” she added.

Also Read: Childhood Violence May Spur Puberty, Depression: Study

Hunt pointed out a few caveats to the study. First, it was done exclusively with 18- to 22-year-olds, and it is unclear if the depressing effects of social media will cross generational lines to older or younger people, Hunt said. But she expects her results should generalize at least for people through the age of 30.

Hunt says she is now beginning a study to gauge the emotional impact of dating apps. (VOA)