What Type of Exercise Is Best for the Brain? + MORE

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Can Coffee Make Your Workout Easier?

– health.com

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This article originally appeared on Time.com. 

The more tired you feel, the harder exercise can be. That’s why coaches of elite athletes have long known that a shot of caffeine before a training session or competition can improve performance by making it easier to exercise more vigorously with less pain and fatigue.

But for an average Joe, does drinking java really give your workout an edge? While the science isn’t solid yet on caffeine’s role as a training aid, the research so far is encouraging.

Caffeine’s main effect on the body is to increase alertness and arousal, which can make workouts seem not so bad. It also may help the muscles burn more fat. Here’s the theory: Muscles use glycogen, a stored version of glucose, for energy, and when glycogen stores run out, muscles get weaker and less efficient, leading to exhaustion. But muscles can also burn fat, and when they do, muscles don’t tire as easily. Caffeine can shift muscles to burn fat more quickly, which can preserve glycogen stores and give muscles more time before they wear out. This leads to a longer and less painful workout. Some researchers also believe that caffeine may work directly on muscle by improving its efficiency in generating power.

MORE: The Case For Drinking Coffee Is Stronger Than Ever

But caffeine may take some time to work. The benefits are more obvious in longer bouts of endurance exercise rather than short-term kinds of exercise, since muscles turn to glycogen first. It’s not yet conclusive how long you have to exercise for caffeine to trigger the shift to fat-burning, but most studies have tested caffeine’s effect on muscles after about two hours. Caffeine’s energizing effects start to peak about an hour after ingestion and can last from three to six hours.

It’s also unclear how much coffee you need to get the exercise benefits. Until recently, the thinking has been that since the body can become tolerant to caffeine, regular coffee drinkers would need an extra cup to get the exercise benefits. But in a recent study conducted by researchers in Brazil, even regular caffeine drinkers—including those who downed about three cups of coffee every day—were able to pedal faster and longer on a stationary bike after taking a caffeine pill, which contained the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee, compared to when they hadn’t taken the pill.

MORE: How Your Morning Coffee Might Slow Down Aging

This existing research suggests that caffeine could be an effective addition to a workout regimen, as long as you add it carefully. (Caffeine comes with some downsides, including headaches, a spike in blood pressure and potential stomach ulcers.) Exercise experts suggest drinking a cup of coffee an hour or so before a workout and seeing if the buzz helps you power through more easily and with less fatigue.

What Type of Exercise Is Best for the Brain?

– health.com

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This article originally appeared on Time.com. 

Exercise is just as good for the brain as it is for the body, a growing body of research is showing. And one kind in particular—aerobic exercise—appears to be king.

“Back in the day, the majority of exercise studies focused on the parts of the body from the neck down, like the heart and lungs,” says Ozioma Okonkwo, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “But now we are finding that we need to go north, to the brain, to show the true benefits of a physically active lifestyle on an individual.”

Exercise might be a simple way for people to cut down their risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, even for those who are genetically at risk for the disease. In a June study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Okonkwo followed 93 adults who had at least one parent with Alzheimer’s disease, at least one gene linked to Alzheimer’s, or both. People in the study who spent at least 68 minutes a day doing moderate physical activity had better glucose metabolism—which signals a healthy brain—compared to people who did less.

The brain benefits of exercise go beyond disease prevention. Okonkwo has also shown that people who exercise have greater brain volume in areas of the brain associated with reasoning and executive function. “We’ve done a series of studies showing that increased aerobic capacity boosts brain structure, function and cognition,” he says, “Other people have found exercise can improve mood.” Okonkwo’s research has also shown that exercise can diminish the impact of brain changes on cognition, not just prevent it. “Exercise is the full package,” he says.

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Exercise likely improves brain health through a variety of ways. It makes the heart beat faster, which increases blood flow to the brain. This blood delivers oxygen—a good thing, since the brain is the biggest consumer of oxygen in the body. Physical activity also increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is known to help repair and protect brain cells from degeneration as well as help grow new brain cells and neurons, says Okonkwo.

In one study. Joe Northey, a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise in Australia, showed that when people ride a stationary bike, they experience increased blood flow to the brain, and within that blood are a range of growth factors that are responsible for cell growth and associated with improved brain function. “Considering exercise can also reduce the risks associated with common lifestyle diseases that impact the brain, such as high blood sugar and hypertension, it is further motivation to try to incorporate exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle,” says Northey…

Finally, a Lash Serum for the Natural Beauty Lover

– health.com

This article originally appeared on InStyle.com.

Want to get longer lashes the natural way? Click out of that weird at-home DIY recipe page, put down the falsies, and listen up. The answer is in a lash serum. Yes, the conventional product has an eco-friendly counterpart, too, and this product might just get you one step closer to your green beauty goals.

LashFood, the eyelash enhancing brand dedicated to getting you more better fringe with a natural focus, has a serum formula that’s 99.49 percent natural and totally vegan. The Phyto-Medic Eyelash Enhancer ($78; sephora.com) has actually been Ecocert certified, which is a certification process that brands can go through to prove that it’s environmentally friendly in its formula and packaging, and that it has left out potentially harmful ingredients.

LASHFOOD Phyto-Medic Eyelash Enhancer

It's made with the brand's proprietary Phyto-Medic complex, which is a blend of herbs that improves the health of the hair follicle, along with natural rice protein, lavender water, amino acids, and more. And there's clinical studies to back it up. The brand claims that 100 percent of users in a 16-week trial noticed an improvement in eyelash length, and more than 80 percent saw an improvement in fullness. Not bad, not bad.

RELATED: Kourtney Kardashian Has Worn This Mascara for 15 Years

Just like other eyelash serums, it's packaged in a tube with a brush-like applicator. You take the brush and apply it along the upper lash line.

And if the natural aspect doesn't do it for you, know one of the brand's products landed upon our best eyelash serums roundup.

Not quite as frustrating as sticking on a set of falsies, we must say.

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Can Coffee Make Your Workout Easier?health.com
What Type of Exercise Is Best for the Brain?health.com
Finally, a Lash Serum for the Natural Beauty Loverhealth.com

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