Archive for Health & Exercise

Today in Brain Training: Peace in the Middle of the Anxiety Storm…

A client reports, after 10 sessions, that her appetite for food and life have opened up again, she’s now enjoying quality sleep without the aide of any medicines, and she’s got a calm sense of confidence even though she’s navigating through a very difficult personal matter (storm). Here is her survey report:Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 2.59.25 PM

Posted in: ADD (ADHD), Anger, Anxiety, Brain Mapping, Brain Training, Brain Wave Optimization, Concentration, confidence, Depression, Fatigue, Focus, Health & Exercise, Memory, Neurofeedback, Panic Attacks, PTSD, Sleep Issues, Stress, Trauma, Weight Issues

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For the entire month of October, receive a 10% discount and 10% of what you spend will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

BCA Month Email Blast (2)

Posted in: ADD (ADHD), Addiction, Anger, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Brain Mapping, Brain Training, Brain Wave Optimization, Chronic Pain, Concentration, Depression, Fatigue, Focus, Fybromyalgia, Health & Exercise, Neurofeedback, Panic Attacks, PTSD, Sleep Issues, Stress, Tourettes Syndrome, Trauma, Uncategorized, Weight Issues

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Menopausal Hot Flashes

Despite all of the Edith-directed menopause-related laugh lines of All In The Family (a reference many readers may be too young to understand), menopausal symptoms are no joke – especially when they are severe. And, now there’s evidence that exercise might help to limit them for some women.

In fact, evidence appears to indicate that women who are relatively inactive or are overweight or obese tend to have an increased risk of symptoms perceived as “hot flashes,” according to Steriani Elavsky, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Penn State University.

While some readers will object, “There’s nothing perceived about them; they’re as real as can be,” “perceived hot flashes” do not always correspond to actual hot flashes.

And Professor Elavsky’s research may be the first study to look at “objective” versus “subjective” hot flashes.

The Penn State researchers studied 92 menopausal women for 15 days. “Our sample included women with mild to moderate symptoms and they were recruited for a study of physical activity, not of menopause,” noted Elavsky. The researchers recruited women – ages 40 to 59 years old, with an average of two children, who were not on hormone therapy – from the community through a variety of outlets frequented by women – libraries, gyms and advertisements in local newspapers.

In the analysis process, participants were divided into normal weight and overweight/obese categories and higher fit and lower fit categories; the categories were not mutually exclusive. Participants wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity and monitors that measured skin conductance, which varies with the moisture level of the skin. Using personal digital assistants, participants recorded the individual hot flashes they experienced throughout the 15-day period. This data collecting combination allowed researchers to study the frequency of objective – recorded by the monitors – and subjective – reported by the individual — hot flashes. When a recorded and a reported hot flash occurred within five minutes of each other it was considered a “true positive.”

Contrary to the popular false myth that performing physical activity could increase hot flashes because it acutely increases body core temperature, researchers found that on average women in the study experienced fewer hot flash symptoms after exercising.

The researchers noted that it is not yet possible to determine if a woman could use diet and exercise and become more physically fit as a means of experiencing fewer hot flashes; that remains a topic for future studies.

However, “For women with mild to moderate hot flashes, there is no reason to avoid physical activity for the fear of making symptoms worse,” noted Elavsky. “In fact, physical activity may be helpful and is certainly the best way to maximize health as women age. Becoming and staying active on a regular basis as part of your lifestyle is the best way to ensure healthy aging and well-being, regardless of whether you experience hot flashes or not.”

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Brain Training Centers of Florida, through brain wave optimization with real time balancing, can be very helpful to individuals experiencing hot flash issues. Our Centers are open from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the convenience of our clients. For further information, please call (305) 412-5050.

Posted in: Brain Wave Optimization, Health & Exercise

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That bad night’s sleep just might kill ya

Okay, not just one night, but persistent insomnia – constant waking in the middle of the night and difficulty falling asleep – can have life-threatening – and too often unexpected – effects. The news reflects the findings of teams of researchers across the country, many of them publishing their studies at June’s Sleep 2012 Conference in Boston.

Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep – may increase the likelihood of developing hypertension.

“The cause of hypertension in insomniacs is due to the number of times the individual wakes during the night as well as their sleep latency — the length of time it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep,” reports Christopher Drake, associate scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center (Detroit) and lead author of the study.

Thirty to forty percent of American adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia in a given year, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. About 10 to 15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia.

The researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center compared 5314 subjects Internet-based questionnaires on insomnia symptoms, presence and severity of hypertension and sleep health habits. “We found that the longer it took the subjects to fall asleep and more times they woke during the night, the more severe their hypertension,” reported Drake. Normal sleepers were compared to insomniacs for the prevalence of hypertension.

Cure-Insomnia-Brain-TrainingIn another study – of 5,666 working adults aged 45 older and all free from strokes and stroke symptoms, transient ischemic attack, or sleep-disordered breathing problems who were followed over a three-year period – researchers found that middle- to older-aged subjects who regularly get fewer than six hours of sleep a night have an increased stroke risk, even if they don’t have a history of stroke, aren’t overweight and don’t have an increased risk for sleep apnea. Importantly, the researchers found a link between getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night and strokes is strong among normal weight subjects but did not find the same link in overweight and obese study participants.
It is possible that short sleep affects stroke risks by acting on other, known risk factors: increasing blood pressure, spurring inflammation and altering metabolic hormones. Even after adjusting for sleep apnea, a known risk factor for strokes, the researchers found that a nightly sleep of less than six hours was strongly associated with a greater incidence of stroke.
Their findings are especially important because it is estimated that 30 percent of working adults get fewer than six hours of sleep each night. “We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone,” reported researcher Megan Ruiter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “A lot of people say that when things get stressful and schedules get tight sleep is the first thing to get sacrificed. It turns out that it’s a lot more problematic than we previously realized.”

“These people sleeping less than six hours had a four times increased risk of experiencing these stroke symptoms compared to their normal weight counterparts that were getting seven to eight hours,” note Ruiter.

In a new report at the 2012 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, researchers noted that individuals with sleep apnea may have an increased risk of so-called “silent strokes” and small lesions in the brain. “We found a surprisingly high frequency of sleep apnea in patients with stroke that underlies its clinical relevance as a stroke risk factor,” noted Jessica Kepplinger, M.D., stroke fellow in the University Stroke Center’s Department of Neurology at the University of Technology (Dresden, Germany).

“Sleep apnea is widely unrecognized and still neglected,” noted Kepplinger. “Patients who had severe sleep apnea were more likely to have silent strokes and the severity of sleep apnea increased the risk of being disabled at hospital discharge.”

The researchers report that 91 percent of patients studied – 51 of 56 – who had a stroke had sleep apnea and were more likely to have silent strokes and white matter lesions in the brain that increased the risk of disability at the time of their discharge; having more than five sleep apnea episodes per night was associated with silent strokes; more than one-third of patients with white matter lesions had severe sleep apnea and more than 50 percent of silent stroke patients had sleep apnea; correlations between sleep apnea and silent strokes were thje same for men and women.

“We have been extremely successful in helping our clients improve their sleep!” reports Dr. Flynn, PsyD, the psychological director at The Brain Training Centers of Florida.

Posted in: Health & Exercise, Sleep Issues

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Comfort foods may really be all in your brain

Donuts, ice cream, mashed potatoes, cheese cake. The reason they’re called COMFORT FOODS may really be all in your brain, according to researchers at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Calgary (Canada).

Turns out that under stress the food drive in rats is increased and this insight, published in the August 11 online edition of the journal Neuron, could provide important insight into how and why stress contributes to obesity.

COMFORT FOODS may really be all in your brainEndocannabinoids are neurotransmitters – chemicals responsible for communication among cells in the brain – and they send signals to control appetite. The Canadian researchers found that when food is not present rats experience a stress respons that temporarily causes a functional rewiring in the brain and may impair the endocannabinoids’ ability to regular food intake and could contribute to an enhanced desire or craving for food. When the researchers blocked the effects of stress hormones in the brain, the absence of food caused no change in the neural circuitry.

The Canadian researchers – Jaideep Bains, Quentin Pittman, Kareen M. Crosby, and Watauru Inoue – studied neurons (nerve calls) in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain known to play an important role in the control of appetite and metabolism, which has also been identified as the primary region responsible for the brain’s response to stress.

Their findings, explained Bains, “could help explain how the cellular communication in our brains may be overridden in the absence of food. Increasingly, these changes are driven not necessarily by the lack of nutrients, but rather by the stress induced by the lack of food.”

Pittman noted that “If we elect to pass over a meal, the brain appears to simply increase the drive in pathways leading to appetite. Furthermore, the fact that the lack of food causes activation of the stress response might help explain the relationship between stress and obesity.

“One thing we can say for sure, is that this research highlights the importance of food availability to our nervous system. The absence of food clearly brings about dramatic changes in the way our neurons communicate with each other,” said Pittman.

While this study employed rats, it is possible that it will also lead to insights into the relationship between stress and food cravings in humans,” noted Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., founder and director of clinical services of the Brain Training Centers of Florida.

“By using a combination of individualized neurobiofeedback and Cognitive Behavioral counseling, we’ve assisted more than a dozen clients achieve quiet and balanced brains and, in turn, reverse histories of repeated failures at weight loss or weight control,” said Flynn. “It would, however, be foolish to expect a kind of shortcuts to weight loss and long-term health. In addition to addressing neural – brain – issues, we must assist clients in accomplishing healthy eating and exercise programs, as well as appropriate life style changes.”

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Featured, Health & Exercise

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Parents of every student-athlete ABSOLUTELY MUST READ!

Because the medical treatment of concussions and other sports-related brain injuries is still developing, here’s an article parents of every student-athlete ABSOLUTELY MUST READ!

It’s especially important for parents because a young person’s brain is not fully developed or mature until his early to mid-20s and a trauma that may be less significant – “getting your bell rung” – may be potentially far more devastating for a 7, 10, or 18 year iold.

We won’t summarize it or minimize it. We’ll only say that all youth sports carry a risk of traumatic brain injuries – well, maybe with the exception of crocket, tiddlywinks and marbles. In fact, Americans sustain as many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions, 235,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, “Ninety percent of concussions went undiagnosed. In fact, today you can talk to an athlete and ask the amount of concussion they’ve had and give them an actual definition, and that number will increase,” Chris Nowinski of the Boston-based Sports Legacy Institute told Village Voice Media

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Headline, Health & Exercise

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Testosterone may cause increased probability of dying among teenagers

Testosterone. It makes 18 the old 22 – at least physically.

It’s the male hormone that, from conception to old age, controls the lives of men and boys; and, now there’s evidence that it may be causing an “accident hump” – associated with an increased probability of dying among teenage boys.

The age of sexual maturity has been on a decline – about 2.5months each decade or more than two years per century – at least since the mid-18th Century but, the research has focused primarily on girls and used data analysis documented by medical records.

Testosterone may cause risky behaviour in teenagers“The reason for earlier maturity for boys, as with girls, is probably because nutrition and disease environments are getting favorable for it,” reports demographer Joshua Goldstein, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock (Germany). Goldstein uncovered the male statistics by studying demographic data related to mortality. When male hormone production during puberty reaches a maximum level, the probability of dying increases – an “accident hump.” And the hump, which is statistically well-documented, is consistent in almost all societies.

Reviewing data for Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Great Britain and Italy since 1950, Goldstein discovered that the “accident hump” is getting earlier and earlier. It occurs in the late phase of puberty, after males reach reproductive capability and their voices change. It is attributed to the fact that young men participate in particularly risky behaviors when the release of testosterone reaches its maximum .  (However, it should be noted, that since 1950 the data is not clear but indicates stagnation.)

It is well-known that dangerous and reckless shows of strength, negligence, and a high propensity to violence lead to an increased number of fatal accidents. While the probability of a fatality remains low, the rate jumps considerably.

“Being 18 today is like being 22 in 1800,” reports Goldstein, who attributes the changes to better nutrition and an improved resilience against diseases. Moreover, it appears that the shift in age of maturity is biological and not related to technological advancements or social activities. “Researchers see for the first time how females and males have been equally responsive to changes in the environment,” notes Goldstein.

“The biological and social phases in the lives of young people are drifting apart ever stronger. While adolescents become adults earlier in a biological sense, they reach adulthood later regarding their social and economic roles.”

Sociological and life-cycle research show that for more than half a century the age at which people marry, have children, start their careers and become financially independent from their parents continue to rise.

Goldstein points out that this doesn’t only extend the period of physical adulthood during which young people do not yet have children. “Important decisions in life are being made with an increasing distance from the recklessness of youth.”  He points out that it remains unclear whether the “high-risk phase” of adolescence becomes more dangerous because it starts earlier. Although young men are less mentally and socially mature, their parents tend to supervise their children more closely when they are younger.

Goldstein points out that this doesn’t only extend the period of physical adulthood during which young people do not yet have children. “Important decisions in life are being made with an increasing distance from the recklessness of youth.”  He points out that it remains unclear whether the “high-risk phase” of adolescence becomes more dangerous because it starts earlier. Although young men are less mentally and socially mature, their parents tend to supervise their children more closely when they are younger.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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30 minutes a day of exercise adds four years to life expectancy

It’s a promised “return on investment” that, if it involved money, would get folks arrested for running a Ponzi scheme. But, here’s the newest science-based facts: 15 minutes a day or 92 minutes per week of mild to moderate exercise extended lifespan by three years compared to inactivity.

Those were the results of a twelve year study of 416,175 Taiwanese and reported by senior author Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, professor and chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Epidemiology. “Exercising at very light levels reduce deaths from any cause by 14 percent,” reported Dr. Xifeng. “The benefits of exercise appear to be significant even without reacting the recommended 150 minutes per week based on results of previous research.”

Benefits Of ExerciseLead author Chi-Pang Wen, MD of the National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan, and colleagues found that a person’s risk of death from any cause decreased by four percent for every additional 15 minutes of exercise up to 100 minutes a day over the course of the study and exercising for 30 minutes a day added about four years to life expectancy – regardless of age group, gender or risk of cardiovascular disease.
At onset, study participants completed a questionnaire covering their medical history of lifestyle information. They characterized their weekly physical activity for the previous month by intensity  – light (walking), moderate (brisk walking), vigorous (jogging) or high vigorous (running) – and time. Participants also characterized their physical activity at work – sedentary to hard physical labor. Those who reported less than one hour a week of leisure time physical activity – 54 percent – were classified in as inactive, while others received ratings of low, medium, high or very high based on duration and intensity of their exercise.

The researchers also analyzed thirteen other variables: age, sex, education level, physical labor at work, smoking, alcohol use, fasting blood sugar, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension and history of cancer. Those who engaged in low-volume exercise had lower death rates than inactive people – regardless of age, gender, health status, tobacco use, alcohol consumption or cardiovascular disease risk.

At present, the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week – a guideline met by only one-third of U.S. adults. While the study considered only Taiwanese participants, the findings of reduced mortality through even moderately intense exercise are likely to hold true for other populations, said Wu, even though the amount of time spent or workout intensity required for a health benefit might differ. “These findings can stimulate people to exercise as much as they can and to not be frustrated that they can’t reach the 30 minutes per day guideline,” said Wu.
The exercise project was funded by the Taiwan Department of Health Clinical Trial and Research Center of Excellence and the Taiwan National Health Research Institutes.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Fatigue, Headline, Health & Exercise

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Importance of setting boundaries around your use of technology

If ever there were a “perfect story” of reasons for the parents of college students to lose sleep, here it  is: Nearly half of all college students have received sexually suggestive images through text messages – sexting – and nearly 80 percent have received suggestiver messages and, depending on the state, minors and adults who possess or forward such images of anyone younger than 18 may be charged with violating child pornography laws.

The importance of setting boundaries with your technologyUniversity of Rhode Island assistant professors Sue K. Adams and Tiffani S. Kisler examined the impact of technology use on physical and mental health, as well as interpersonal relationships with college students.  In their study of 204 students conducted during the Spring 2011, they found that 56 percent had received sexually suggestive images, and 78 percent had received sexually suggestive messages.  Potentially more criminally dangerous, two-thirds of the group had sent suggestive messages. Granted almost three-quarters – 73 percent – were sent to a relationship partner, 10 percent were forwarded without consent of the original sexter.

“It is important to help everyone, especially students, understand the importance of setting boundaries around their use of technology,” notes Kisler.

In August, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed a bill outlawing sexting by minors. It provides that minors who create and send sexually explicit images of themselves may be charged with a “status offense” and referred to family court. Minors and adults who possess or forward sexual images of anyone younger than 18 may be charged under the state’s child pornography law.

“College freshmen are right at that 17- and 18-year old threshold,” observed Professor Adams.  “Whether it is classmates in college or friends from high school, we have to wonder how many students are thinking about the ages of the people they are communicating with.” And Kisler pointed out that many students don’t recognize the lack of control they have over who is seeing their messages.

“At the young age of most college students, people are filtering through relationships at a faster rate. People want to feel a sense of belonging, so they are sharing more of themselves with people they are still getting to know. Once they click that ‘send’ button, they don’t know where else a message will end up,” said Kisler.

In an earlier study, Kisler and Adams found that texting and cell phone use affect important aspects of students’ physical health. Forty-seven percent of the 236 college juniors and seniors in their study reported being awakened by text messages and then responding before falling back to sleep. Forty percent of student answered phone calls during sleep; students who use technology throughout the night were losing an average of 44 minutes of sleep per week due to text messages and calls. And, this pattern of loss sleep was also associated with particularly poor sleep quality, depression and anxiety.

“At first glance 44 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but combined with the fact that college students are the most sleep deprived population across all age groups, the implications are significant,” notes Adams. “More often than not, the interruptions caused by texting come with the first few hours of sleep, which is the most important time for restorative sleep. If students are constantly interrupting their sleep cycle, they place themselves at risk for sleep debt, which can impact multiple areas of their life, including academic performance. “

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Depression, Health & Exercise

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