Exercise and our mind

Anyone whose resolve to exercise in 2013 is a bit shaky might want to consider an emerging scientific view of human evolution. It suggests that we are clever today in part because a million years ago, we could outrun and outwalk most other mammals over long distances. Our brains were shaped and sharpened by movement, the idea goes, and we continue to require regular physical activity in order for our brains to function optimally.

PHYS ED
Gretchen Reynolds on the science of fitness.
The role of physical endurance in shaping humankind has intrigued anthropologists and gripped the popular imagination for some time. In 2004, the evolutionary biologists Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard and Dennis M. Bramble of the University of Utah published a seminal article in the journal Nature titled “Endurance Running and the Evolution of Homo,” in which they posited that our bipedal ancestors survived by becoming endurance athletes, able to bring down swifter prey through sheer doggedness, jogging and plodding along behind them until the animals dropped.

Endurance produced meals, which provided energy for mating, which meant that adept early joggers passed along their genes. In this way, natural selection drove early humans to become even more athletic, Dr. Lieberman and other scientists have written, their bodies developing longer legs, shorter toes, less hair and complicated inner-ear mechanisms to maintain balance and stability during upright ambulation. Movement shaped the human body.

But simultaneously, in a development that until recently many scientists viewed as unrelated, humans were becoming smarter. Their brains were increasing rapidly in size.

Today, humans have a brain that is about three times larger than would be expected, anthropologists say, given our species’ body size in comparison with that of other mammals.

To explain those outsized brain, evolutionary scientists have pointed to such occurrences as meat eating and, perhaps most determinatively, our early ancestors’ need for social interaction. Early humans had to plan and execute hunts as a group, which required complicated thinking patterns and, it’s been thought, rewarded the social and brainy with evolutionary success. According to that hypothesis, the evolution of the brain was driven by the need to think.

But now some scientists are suggesting that physical activity also played a critical role in making our brains larger.

To reach that conclusion, anthropologists began by looking at existing data about brain size and endurance capacity in a variety of mammals, including dogs, guinea pigs, foxes, mice, wolves, rats, civet cats, antelope, mongeese, goats, sheep and elands. They found a notable pattern. Species like dogs and rats that had a high innate endurance capacity, which presumably had evolved over millenniums, also had large brain volumes relative to their body size.

The researchers also looked at recent experiments in which mice and rats were systematically bred to be marathon runners. Lab animals that willingly put in the most miles on running wheels were interbred, resulting in the creation of a line of lab animals that excelled at running.

Interestingly, after multiple generations, these animals began to develop innately high levels of substances that promote tissue growth and health, including a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. These substances are important for endurance performance. They also are known to drive brain growth.

What all of this means, says David A. Raichlen, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona and an author of a new article about the evolution of human brains appearing in the January issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology, is that physical activity may have helped to make early humans smarter.

“We think that what happened” in our early hunter-gatherer ancestors, he says, is that the more athletic and active survived and, as with the lab mice, passed along physiological characteristics that improved their endurance, including elevated levels of BDNF. Eventually, these early athletes had enough BDNF coursing through their bodies that some could migrate from the muscles to the brain, where it nudged the growth of brain tissue.

Those particular early humans then applied their growing ability to think and reason toward better tracking prey, becoming the best-fed and most successful from an evolutionary standpoint. Being in motion made them smarter, and being smarter now allowed them to move more efficiently.

And out of all of this came, eventually, an ability to understand higher math and invent iPads. But that was some time later.

The broad point of this new notion is that if physical activity helped to mold the structure of our brains, then it most likely remains essential to brain health today, says John D. Polk, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-author, with Dr. Raichlen, of the new article.

And there is scientific support for that idea. Recent studies have shown, he says, that “regular exercise, even walking,” leads to more robust mental abilities, “beginning in childhood and continuing into old age.”

Of course, the hypothesis that jogging after prey helped to drive human brain evolution is just a hypothesis, Dr. Raichlen says, and almost unprovable.

But it is compelling, says Harvard’s Dr. Lieberman, who has worked with the authors of the new article. “I fundamentally agree that there is a deep evolutionary basis for the relationship between a healthy body and a healthy mind,” he says, a relationship that makes the term “jogging your memory” more literal than most of us might have expected and provides a powerful incentive to be active in 2013.

Different approaches to dating

One of the advantages of living in the information era is that you have an abundance of choices on just about everything you do. Take shopping, for example. Before the Internet, you had to physically go to stores or browse products using product catalogs. Today, you can buy items on your phone and you have instantaneous access to thousands of stores. Aside from that, you can do things like compare prices and download coupons all within a few seconds. These types of capabilities have really put the consumer in charge.

 

The same phenomenon has extended to online dating. There are many ways in which the Internet can assist you in your endeavor to find love. First, there is the sheer amount of information available online. This includes articles, new stories, ebooks and even membership sites that can lend a hand when it comes to developing effective methods of meeting members of the opposite sex. But it doesn't end there, you can also sign up for the services of a dating coach and receive advice online.

Then there is the dating aspect itself. Even when they don't use the most obvious choice, which would be dating sites like eharmony, people often find each other online through social media sites or by engaging in activities like chatting or playing video games. In a sense, the online world has become a mechanism for socializing, and because of that, people can just as easily meet people and make friends as they would in the outside world.

And for those who like to take a more direct approach, online dating sites remain a very popular way to go about dating people. Eharmony, for example, uses a special online algorithm to match you with highly compatible individuals. They have a great track record of helping over a million people get married. Because of this, I often recommend Eharmony as the first website to try if they want to get into online dating. The best thing is that you cn open an eharmony account for free. Other good choices include very famous sites like PlentyofFish, Okcupid, and Match.com. Niche dating sites are also available for people looking for something very specific. You will have no problem finding just about any kind of dating site for a niche. Existing niches include things race, religion, hobbies, and even exercise. This is one good way to filter out who you date if there are any qualities that are highly important for you when seeking out somebody to date. For all others, general dating sites like Eharmony and Match.com often bring great results at a relatively modest price.

First steps in online dating

dating facts and reasonsMost people who've used social media or any number of other Internet sites would most likely have no problem using a dating sites, even if it's their first time. But older folks, as well as those who are simply not tech savvy could find themselves feeling rather lost. It is for those people that we decided to write this post. Now, it's impossible to address all the aspects of getting started with online dating in a simple post, but we just want to cover the basic components so you can research each part further on your own.

Joining the site in question is the obvious first step. The good thing about this step is that it's relatively easy and free. Popular dating websites and apps such as Match.com allow you to open an account without any payment upfront. To do this right, now, simply go to the Match.com free trial page. Does this mean you can use them forever? No, because you need to pay for a membership before being able to communicate with others.

After opening an account, the next step is to prepare your profile. To do this, you will need to write a couple paragraphs about yourself and also post a few photos. Do not rush through this part. It's good to read some advice columns on the best way to set up a dating profile. It's important to get multiple perspectives on this, so make sure you read more than one article.

Finally, you are ready to interact with others. A good thing to do is to simply observe others for a while. Also, read plenty of profiles so you get a sense of who's out there. Only then, should you begin contacting others. All the while, it's important to keep improving your profile. It's a work in progress, so as you read other people's profiles, you may get a better idea of how you want to rewrite your own. It might take a while to get the hang of online dating, but once you do, you'll find that it's a highly enjoyable way to connect with single people in your geographic area.

Gaming offline or online? That is the question

games

I've been playing games of all kinds for many years, and when speaking to people, there seems to be two opinions about games in general. On the one hand, I run into quite a bit of people who never game online, and insist that games played in the real world are a lot better for you. The reasons for this viewpoint can be varied. But on the whole, they revolve around the idea that playing video games is somehow unhealthy. To a certain extent, they have a point. Almost everyone will agree that playing soccer in the real world is healthier than playing such a game on a computer. But in other cases, you may be able to vicariously engage in an activity that would otherwise be impossible to engage in. Examples of this include racecar driving, games where you fly planes, etc. Such games allow you to engage in a fantasy world that can be quite healthy for you if done in moderation, because at the end of the day, everyone could use an escape every now and then. Thus, people who insist on playing only offline games may be missing out on the opportunity to have a lot of fun.

Then, there are also people on the opposite end, who believe online gaming is the only way to go. While it's true that playing video games takes less effort and for many people, can be a lot more fun, sitting around all day is not the best idea. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and it doesn't help if your hobbies are sedentary as well. It's important, therefore, to make sure that you game in moderation. Two or three hours a day may be reasonable, but any more than that can be excessive. It helps to change games that you play often, as I have found that this reduces the chances of getting addicted to a certain game. One way to accomplish this is by joining Gamefly and switching the games you play on a regular basis. I've used Gamefly for years and have found it to be very useful. If you have not tried this service, you really need to sign up for the free trial offer -- I don't think you'll be sorry. Gamefly is essentially a game renting service, where you can rent games online. The games you rent are delivered to you using regular mail. It takes a few days, but you are allowed to switch the games as often as you like. Thus, it ends up being a great service for games who want to change the games they play frequently. In cases where you get addicted regardless of switching up games, there is help you can get. But hopefully, it won't get to this stage. It is useful if you have friends that are involved in activities that don't involve online gaming. That way, they may notice you are getting addicted to gaming and encourage you to join them in other activities. I've had times when I was getting addicted to a certain game, and spending a couple days away from the game helped me gain perspective.

E-cigarette Benefits in a Nutshell

E-cigarettes are used by millions of people in the United States. But even with its proliferation, the number of smokers still outnumbers the number of people who use E-cigs. As the saying goes, old habits die hard. I, for one, have always believed that E-cigarettes are much better than smoking, for a number of reasons. Therefore, I would like to spend a bit of time today talking about some of the benefits of using E-cigs as opposed to smoking.

1. On the whole, they cost less. How much e-cigarettes cost depends a lot on your setup. But it's a fact that if you stick to simple e-cigs, your savings can be huge, amounting to thousands of dollars of savings a year. Even if you use more complex setups, such as mods, you are likely to save a good deal of money unless you chain vape. So if you approach vaping from a purely monetary perspective, it ends up being a wise decision.

2. They allow for more customization. E-cigs offer customization on two levels. On the one hand, you can select from many different setups, such as battery size, different atomizers and tanks, etc. These consist of the hardware components of e-cigarettes. Then, there are also e-liquid flavors you can experiment with. Your vaping experience can vary quite a bit depending on what flavors you choose to vape. Like most people, I prefer to purchase multiple flavors at once, so I can switch them up every week or even every day for variety. Of course, with smoking, you can change the cigarette you smoke for some variety, but it doesn't come close to the different flavors you can try as a vaper.

3. The most cited benefit of e-cigs is that it's better for your health. Although this claim has some doubters, most health experts agree that vaping is better than smoking. The most obvious reason for this is that other than nicotine, you are not inhaling all the bad things that smokers inhale, such as carbon monoxide and smoke.

For those interested in switching to e-cigs, I would like to suggest Halo Cigs. Make sure you save money with these Halo Cigs coupons and discount codes if you decide to place an order online.

What to consider before sinking money into ink

We all need ink, most notably for our printers. While ink for things like pens can be quite cheap, printer ink has always been on the high end of the price scale. Because of this unfortunate fact, may people over the years have explored ways to get ink more cheaply. Some things you should think about before sinking money into ink include the following.

printer

1. Should you buy in bulk? Buying lots of ink at once can bring down the prices. But the problem is, if you buy too much ink, this strategy can backfire. For example if you buy a ton of ink and your printer dies, and you end up getting a different model the next time around, you will have lots of ink that you no longer need. Selling these cartridges online is one way to recoup some of your cost, but doing such things can be a pain.

2. Should you buy used, refilled cartridges? Commonly called remanufactured cartridges, these cartridges are essentially used cartridges that have had new ink injected into them. Do they work? A lot of that depends on how well the ink was injected into the cartridge. That's why, if you buy these types of cartridges, it's important to purchase them from professional ink outlets such as Ink Farm. One of the advantages of buying your ink online is that you can use Inkfarm coupon codes.

But let's not kid ourselves. While there are ways to get lower prices on ink, cutting too many corners will result in negative results. So proceed carefully if you want to use some of the tactics above to bring down your office costs.

3 Things You Can Do To Increase Security Online

Many of us spend hours or even the whole day in front of a computer that's connected to the Internet. By having data compromised, you can become a victim to things such as identity theft, which can seriously impact your life. For this reason, every Internet user should make certain that they protect themselves. Here are 3 things we recommend you do, if you are not doing them already.privacy

1. Install a high-quality anti-virus and firewall software. You have many choices when it comes to internet security software. Some of the more well-known names include Norton and McAfee. But instead of just relying on a familiar name, you should take things further and read reviews of the various software that are currently available. Many websites like CNET will have entire sections of their site dedicated to reviewing anti-virus software. The good news is that there is a good anti-virus program available for every budget, and if you do the proper research, you should be able to find a good program that you can use for free.

2. Use a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and in a nutshell, it allows you to connect with servers located all over the globe. Why would you want to do that? Quite frankly, for privacy. Without a VPN, your ISP will know exactly which sites you visit. While most ISPs won't use this information for sinister purposes, you can never be too safe. Most VPNs do not log traffic, so it will be nearly impossible for people to know your browsing habits if you use a VPN. We like Nord VPN, and recommend that you check them out. Be sure you get the Nord VPN Free Trial if you decide to try out this service.

3. Use Anonymous Payment Methods. The best way to do this is by using the electronic currency Bitcoin, which you've no doubt heard about. But beware that Bitcoin isn't anonymous unless you take certain steps. The easiest way to ensure your coins become anonymous is by using something called a Bitcoin Mixer. There are several such services available, and they all take a small fee. But such a fee is worth paying for the peace of mind associated with knowing that your Internet purchases will be kept confidential.