Good Stress and Bad Stress, Part II

The previous post laid out the history of stress, explained how stress imposes a reaction, and the difference between good stress and bad stress.

In all activities, there is always a ceiling. It can be genetical and limit maximum strength, speed, coordination in physical performance. It can be environmental or geographical. Where we live and study determines for example the quality and scope of work. It can be a time ceiling, giving us limited time to accomplish required tasks.

This maximum can be attainable after a long and hard journey and is illustrated by the red line in the graph below.

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Good stress and Bad stress, Part I

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History of Stress

The term stress was borrowed from physics by the first stress researcher Hans Selye.  In physics, stress describes the force that produces strain on a physical body (i.e.: bending a piece of metal until it snaps occurs because of the force, or stress, exerted on it).

Hans Selye noticed that all his patients, regardless of disease, all looked under duress. He decided to name “stress”.

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Accepting Imperfection

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One of my training goal is to be able to run 5 km in less than 20 minutes before the end of 2016.

I like a lot the idea of this goal. During the day, I would already imagine my legs powering me forward, the wind flowing, and the constant battle against the watch. I was already eager on sharing my success everywhere.

Recently, it started snowing. Sidewalks become a sliding game, shoes become soggy and fingers are frozen. And what was once beautiful green trails become cold, dark and snow paths like above. Result: I loose half of my speed!

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“The Blue Zones, Second Edition” book review

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Is there a recipe to live past 100, and at the same time have a good quality of life?

That’s what Dan Bruettner tries to investigate in his book entitled “The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”.

With his team, Dan went to Barbagia in Sardinia (Italy), Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California, United States), Nicoya (Costa Rica). These have relatively a high percentage of centenarians, and low occurrences of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or COPD. Dan interviewed them on their diet, daily lifestyle, social networks and various habits. His findings are then discussed with doctors and health experts.

So how do you live a good life past 100?

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How To Recognize Burnout

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Burnout manifests itself with underperformance, mood disturbance, reduced motivation, stomach problems, as well as fatigue, anxiety and depression.

It is seen in serious athletes training with high volumes and intensity with little recovery aka overtraining. It’s also experienced by various workers going through chronic life stresses and monotony: stressful job, divorce, kids, bills, nerve-wracking projects, little sense of self-worth etc.

What seemed like an easy task previously requires enormous efforts. Often, there’s psychological breakdown.

Recognizing burnout lets you stay away from injuries or pass the tipping point. This can mean extended years enjoying your work, exercise and family. A well-balanced person wants to recognize early symptoms, which lead to the question:

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The Science of Sleep and Creativity

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Digital painting by Cyril Rolando

Studies link poor sleep with poor health : higher risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer and poor immune system. It’s also associated with poor mental health: sleep deprivation disturbs emotional regulation and increases anxiety. It also leads to unhealthy weight gain, poor food intake and increased risk for metabolic diseases.

Good health simply means good sleep. Read more on this.

There is still research however on how sleep is linked to creativity. How can sleep helps us think of new ideas, perceive the world in new ways, or generate solutions to new problems?

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Biking to work

Commuting with a bike is a fun and healthy life choice

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Going to the gym or a sports facility costs time and money. Many commit to the investment, others don’t have the time or the discipline. For the latter, it is only weeks, months or years later they realize the poor health choice.

An alternative is to include a fitness activity in your daily routine. This can be cooking, cleaning up, gardening or playing daily outside with kids. It can be also walking or cycling to work.

Walking with a combination of public transport is accessible and involves little preparation to the daily routine. It is a nice way to be a bit more active.

Cycling to work can bring even more benefits. It improves your cardiovascular system, decreases risk of Type 2 diabetes, increases insulin sensitivity, helps manage body weight, helps fight depression and mood changes and reduces all-cause mortality. A Danish study showed that the 45,000 adults aged 50-65 years who regularly cycled to work or for leisure had between 11-18 percent fewer heart attacks over the course of a 20-year follow-up. The analysis indicated that some protection against heart disease was achieved with as little as 30 minutes of biking per week.

Cycling is also a low-impact activity, good for those who have knee or shin splints problems.

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