Researchers at the University of California recently uncovered strong evidence that enriching the air with fragrances improves cognitive performance.
In a study, they provided 20 people with an assortment of natural oils containing fragrances. Others were provided with a “sham” that contained trace amounts of an odorant. All of the participants used one of the oils with a diffuser to perfume their home for two hours every night over a six-month period, rotating through the fragrances.
A battery of neuropsychological tests then compared the volunteers’ memory, verbal learning, planning, and attention-switching skills before and after.
Astonishingly, there was a clear 226-percent difference between those using the fragrances and the control group. Brain scans also revealed a significant change in the anatomy-linking areas of the brain critical in memory and thinking.
“Exposure to Certain Fragrances During Sleep Dramatically Boosts Cognitive Function,” Science Alert, sciencealert.com, Aug. 3, 2023.
We aren’t angry because of the traffic jam—we’re stressed because we left no margin for lateness. Isn’t that true?
Not only are we less patient when we have no room for delays, but we’re also setting ourselves up for illness.
Chronic stress creates a myriad of health problems, from headaches and high blood pressure to weakened immune systems and muscle pain.
The key to avoiding this kind of stress is to leave margin when we plan our day. Margin means leaving room in our schedule for the unexpected. It’s the time and place where things can spill over if they take more time than planned. It’s the place where we allow for problems or emergencies to arise.
And if things go smoothly, we have time to reflect and give thanks—an extra blessing!
“Living the Simple Life: Expect Delays and Leave Margin,” Medium, medium.com, Oct. 7, 2019.
Most people think a firm handshake correlates with personality. But in the medical world, the amount of force you can generate with your hand is a valid proxy for total-body strength. And total-body strength is one key to healthy aging.
“Many studies have looked at strength as a predictor of positive health and weakness as a predictor of negative health outcomes,” says Mark Peterson, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Michigan.
“I strongly believe in strength preservation and healthy living as a predictor for longevity,” says Peterson. So what if the grip test results suggest that a person is objectively weak? “For me, that's easy,” he says. “They need to exercise.”
“The Argument for Grip Strength as a Vital Sign,” Medscape, medscape.com, Aug. 3, 2023.
Brr. It’s cold. Let’s exercise inside! But there are unexpected benefits from outdoor exercise in winter, according to Dr. Morgan Busko, attending physician at the NewYork-Presbyterian hospital.
Just being in the sun increases your body’s creation of vitamin D, which protects you from a host of medical problems.
Exercising outdoors may also provide special psychological benefits. Studies show that exercising in nature actually increases the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and natural endorphins that are released through the body, and promotes a happy mood.
Fresh air gives you a greater boost of energy, and outdoor exercise can provide a better workout and burn more calories because of hills or uneven trails.
Lastly, because you can change your route, outdoor exercise is apt to be less boring and thus less of a chore. So let’s go!
“The Unexpected Benefits of Winter Workouts,” HealthMatters, healthmatters.nyp.org.