Physical Activity

Articles

Does Dim Light at Night Make You Fat?

Before electricity, humans got all of their light via exposure to the sun, fire, and the moon and stars. This meant that nights were spent in relative darkness. Today, our environment is quite different. Our homes can now be brightly illuminated all the time, regardless of season or time of day. Also, our cities have bright LED street lamps that create “light pollution” filling outdoor city environments with much more light than is natural.

On the latest episode of humanOS Radio, I talk to Dr. Laura Fonken who is postdoctoral fellow in Steven Maier’s lab in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado. Before joining the Maier lab, she and a group at Ohio State performed a fascinating experiment with rodents, in which they compared body weight gain in animals who only ate at night versus animals who only ate during the day. The results were startling – and had interesting potential implications for our own health.

Check out our interview here to learn more!


Standing for Mental Clarity and Physical Health (Interview with Kelly and Juliet Starrett)

I have to admit, I love this story. Two parents saw a problem effecting their children and did something about it. But not only did they try to help their children and their children’s friends, they also are trying to help every child in the United States.

The guests of this episode of humanOS Radio are Kelly and Juliet Starrett. Kelly is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and the author of the books: Deskbound, Supple Leopard, and Ready to Run. Juliet has a history as a competitive athlete, rowing at UC Berkeley and paddling for the US Women’s Whitewater Team from 1997-2000. Together, they founded San Francisco CrossFit in 2005 (one of the first 50 CrossFit Affiliates ever), they run the healthy movement website called Mobility WOD, and most recently, they started StandUpKids.org the mission of which is to put standing desks in every public school in America. I’m also honored to be on the Board of Directors, which I mentioned in this previous post, to help this great organization achieve its mission.


Help Get More Standing Desks in Schools

Kids need movement to support their health, brain development, and academic performance. But, between the elimination of PE programs to video games that use the most powerful engagement tricks to keep kids locked to a controller (literally controlling them), the statistics on kids and physical activity are bleak. One easy and effective way to improve the situation is for schools to provide standing desk options for the kids. Learn more about how the StandUpKids.org is helping to solve this important issue!


Balancing Standing and Sitting Across the Workday (Podcast with Professor Travis Saunders)

Is sitting really the new smoking? This idea became popular a few years ago and research supports that, indeed, too much sitting really is bad for us. But, as I discussed with Professor Matthew Buman, while no amount of smoking is healthy, sitting is a health behavior, it just becomes problematic when we do it too much of it.

In the most recent episode of humanOS Radio, I speak with Professor Travis Saunders of The University of Prince Edwards Island. Travis is also the founder the Sedentary Behavior Research Network, which is how I learned of his work. Much of his research looks at the influence of sitting behavior on health in both children and adults. In order to move the needle on this subject, he looks at the topic from a variety of research angles ranging from interventions done in the lab to population-level epidemiological studies and systematic reviews. In our discussion, we explore what’s known and not known on the subject, and also practical ways to find the sweet spot for daily standing time.


Can Chocolate Help You Get Fit?

When we think of foods that improve athletic performance, chocolate is maybe not one of the first options that comes to mind.

We’ve known for a while that certain molecules found in chocolate, known as flavonols, are associated with health benefits to the heart and the brain. Epicatechin, in particular, has exhibited widespread effects throughout the body.

But some emerging evidence suggests that chocolate may also aid in exercise performance – weird as it may sound.

Here’s what the research says so far, and how it seems to work.


Introducing the humanOS Radio Podcast with Guest, Professor Matt Buman

I am very happy to announce our new podcast, humanOS Radio. The aim is interview three categories of people: 1) Researchers whose work informs us about some aspect of how we live, 2) Entrepreneurs who are translating science into solutions, and 3) Investors making bets to predict (and support) the major future influencers on health. The format will be flexible, but most shows will around 30 minutes or less. I think the best way to get a sense of what humanOS will deliver is to listen to an episode or two. Without further ado, please find my conversation with Matt Buman, PhD., who is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University.


How Exercise Helps You Learn

In this series of articles, we look at the effects of exercise on the brain, including how it helps us maximize our capacity to learn. In the previous post, we saw how moderate-intensity exercise helps enhance cognition by increasing brain blood flow. However, this effect works in the short term, as long as we continue to maintain the right exercise-intensity level: Not intense enough and we don’t augment blood flow to the brain; too intense and blood flow returns to baseline flow levels all while the demands of exercise require us to increasingly focus on the exercise itself (not the problem you’re trying to solve in your head).

So, an interesting question to ask is this: can exercise induce lasting improvements in cognitive ability? Current research suggests that the answer to this question is yes. Exercise promotes an increase in the levels of certain substances that enhance the brain’s capacity to acquire and retain new information.


Which Exercise Intensity Makes You Smarter Right Now? Exercise and Cognition, Part 1

It was traditionally thought that total brain blood flow was not changed during physical activity. Research in the last 10 years, however, changed this perspective. We now understand that the increased neuronal and metabolic activity of the brain during exercise drive increases in blood flow to it. We have also learned that exercise that is too intense will reduce blood flow and oxygen delivery causing fatigue. So, what is the ideal intensity to stimulate blood flow to the brain, and perhaps, augment your mental abilities in the moment?