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Hindustan Times
July 06, 2013
Brisk walking lowers stress Walking briskly or jogging really does calm you down by sparking nerve cells in the brain that relax the senses, shows new research. Exercise has long been thought to be effective for anxiety and depression, but the brain mechanism behind the phenomenon has remained a mystery.

Now tests on mice show that activity immediately triggers soothing neurons in the brain that calm them down when they are exposed to a stressor, reports the Journal of Neuroscience. This helps dull feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression.

Reading, writing preserves brain and memory

People who read, write, and engage in other mentally stimulating activities preserve memories at a rate at least 32% higher than those who don’t — and more importantly, readers and writers are more likely to avoid dementia. The study, published in the journal Neurology, also suggests exercising the brain with mentally stimulating tasks is especially helpful in old age if you have done it all your life.

Research to date has documented that the mind works like a muscle and keeping it active helps in the growth of new brain cells, irrespective of age.

In science-speak, it’s called building new neuronetic connections, which makes it harder for the plaques and tangles of Alzhei-mer’s disease to take hold and cause memory loss.

Quitting smoking works, cutting back doesn’t

Smokers are unlikely to extend their lifespan if they choose to smoke fewer cigarettes but don’t give up altogether, shows data from more than 5,200 smokers in Scotland who smoked when they were first recruited for a study in early 1970s. They were re-contacted a few years later and asked about their smoking. Some had stopped altogether, some had reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked, while others had maintained or increased smoking.

Compared to maintainers, the quitters had lower death rates, but there was no significant difference between the reducers and the maintainers, report researchers at the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling. The findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, do not support a similar long-term study in Israel where smoking reduction appeared to reduce death rates, but are consistent with studies in Denmark and Norway where it did not.

Couples who argue less live longer

Couples who do not argue as much are more likely to live longer than those who regularly row, shows a 20-year study of 1,700 married people. The most common subjects causing the arguments are finance and the in-laws, report researchers from Brigham Young University in Utah. The study found that the more couples argued, the worse their general health.

It has more to do with how both sides to look after each other. Happy couples are more likely to cook and eat healthier meals together rather than storm off to the pub or stay late at work eating junk food.

Regular sex makes you look younger

Regular sex helps people look youthful for longer, says Dr David Weeks, former head of old age psychology at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. His research shows that older men and women with an active love life look between five and seven years younger than their actual age.

Other British research has credited regular lovemaking with halving the odds of early death. Pleasure derived from sex is a crucial factor in preserving youth. It helps burn fat and release substances which bolster the immune system, while simple stress relief can improve the quality of sleep.