Get Outside For Improved Health and Memory

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Go outside: It helps improve your focus—even when it’s cold out.

University of Michigan psychology research in the December issue of Psychological Science explored the cognitive benefits of interacting with nature and found that walking in a park in any season, or even viewing pictures of nature, can help improve memory and attention.

U-M psychology researchers Marc Berman, John Jonides and Stephen Kaplan found memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature.

Researchers believe the findings could have broader impact on helping people who may be suffering from mental fatigue.

“Interacting with nature can have similar effects as meditating,” Berman said. “People don’t have to enjoy the walk to get the benefits. We found the same benefits when it was 80 degrees and sunny over the summer as when the temperatures dropped to 25 degrees in January. The only difference was that participants enjoyed the walks more in the spring and summer than in the dead of winter.”

Kaplan and his wife, Rachel Kaplan, a researcher in psychology and the School of Natural Resources and Environment, argue that people are far more likely to be satisfied with their lives when their environment supports three basic needs: the ability to understand and explore; to feel they make a difference; and to feel competent and effective.

Berman decided to test that theory by sending study participants on walking routes around Ann Arbor. Participants walked on an urban route down main streets and also on a route in U-M’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, taking in nature. When participants walked in the Arboretum, they improved their short-term memory by 20 percent, but showed no improvements after walking down city streets.

The researchers also tested the same theory by having subjects sit inside and look at pictures of either downtown scenes or nature scenes and again the results were the same: when looking at photos of nature, memory and attention scores improved by about 20 percent, but not when viewing the urban pictures.

Source: UMich

Instant Relief for Spicy Food

Instead of turning to a glass of milk to ease the discomfort of a spicy food, swallow a teaspoon of sugar. The sugar will completely neutralize the heat sensation.

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Instant relief!

Smelly Shoe? Use a Tea Bag

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A simple remedy to removing strong (smelly) odors from your shoes. Leave a tea bag or two in your shoes for two or three nights. It is guaranteed to give your shoes a nice smell (especially if green tea is used).

The best solutions are natural!

How Does Your Brain (Mental Ability) Compare With Your Peers?

Have you ever wondered how quick your brain functions compared to your colleagues?

Have you ever wondered which mental skills you excel in most?

Then maybe you should give Lumosity a go.

Lumosity is a brain training tool involving games. It’s based on extensive research in the field of neuroplasticity. There are many published results on the benefits on Lumosity.

 

lumosity-session

 

You’re given a set of games each day which focuses on specific brain functions like memory, speed, attention and so forth. A sample of games are shown below:

This is one of my favourite games, guiding multiple trains into stations.

lumo-train

The game on the left tests your speed while the one on the right tests your memory (this is a hard one).

lumosity-games

 

The observation tower building is an interesting memory game where you have to remember a sequence of numbers.

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This is my hardest game. I am very bad in remembering names but I am improving:

Familiar Faces

 

After each session of 5 games, you’re shown your brain performance chart, indicating your scores for 5 aspects of your brain.

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Lumosity also compares your performance with those in your age bracket:

lumo-brain-compare

 

Lastly Lumosity has data showing the skills different industries require of their people.

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Constantly training your brain helps delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dont you think that’s worth playing a few games daily?

Copenhagen Wheel – Making Your Bicycle Smart

This is not about the bike.

This is about a wheel.

A “smart wheel” that fits on just about any bike, the Copenhagen wheel captures energy from braking or riding downhill and then gives the rider a boost when he needs it. An app lets the cyclist adjust the settings and the wheel learns the users habits to optimise the ride.

 

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The features the wheel provides are:

POWER ASSIST
Riders are given a boost as they pedal by measuring their effort, instead of using a throttle. This preserves the normal biking experience while enabling riders to bike faster, farther, and easier.

REGENERATIVE BRAKING
As you bike, the wheel is able to capture energy when braking or going down hill that it stores in the integrated lithium battery pack.

SMART CONTROL
All actuation of the wheel happens automatically via the pedals through sensing and control algorithms. When the rider pedals harder, such as when going uphill, the wheel pushes with increasing power. Using your smartphone with the Superpedestrian app, you can vary the level of powered assist.

SDK
The Copenhagen Wheel SDK enables developers to get creative and develop a host of applications ranging from navigation to customizing the behavior of the wheel.

SEAMLESS DESIGN
The Copenhagen Wheel makes your bike look even better. It’s completely wireless, compact and simple; all designed for your everyday commute. Twist two nuts, install the wheel, download the app and you’re ready to go!

MOBILE APP
Get more from your Wheel by downloading the complimentary mobile app, which allows you to lock/unlock your wheel, choose amongst a menu of customizable rides, and track personal usage statistics including time, distance, calories burned, elevation climbed and more, all of which can be compared and shared with friends.

Here’s the wheel in action: