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Dark Chocolate for Focus, Exercise for a Long Life (Sunday Reads #15)

with 3 comments

Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.

This week I’m posting it on Monday because… well… Memorial Day.

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On Creativity and Focus

Creativity can reduce stress and become a habit.  “Productivity on meaningful work encourages engagement with that work, and this engagement fosters creativity.”

A new study has found that a Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts was associated with improved cognitive function in older adults in Spain.  The control group ate a low-fat diet.

Dark chocolate can boost attention.  At least a few times per week I substitute an afternoon coffee or tea with some sipping chocolate (85%) – not only is it incredibly tasty, it helps me focus.

A new study has found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating.  I’m on Day 21 of the Headspace program and I already feel a noticeable difference in my overall stress levels, clarity of thought and ability to focus.  I really couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Meditation can be secular.  Meditation for Strivers in the The New Yorker challenges common perception head-on by reviewing 10% Happier by Dan Harris.  “Meditation suffers from a towering PR problem.… If you can get past the cultural baggage, though, what you’ll find is that meditation is simply exercise for your brain.”

On Getting Strong & Eating Well

Women find boost in ability and other benefits in strength training.  “Women don’t need giant muscles. But to do functional stuff, we do need muscles.”  Absolutely.  “Do something you never thought you could do, like three push-ups or a pull-up, and it creates a big change in you. It opens the door to other tasks. You want to jump higher, lift heavier, run faster.”

Two new large-scale studies show that “the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect.”  People who don’t exercise at all are at the highest risk of premature death.  Strive to meet or exceed the guidelines (at least 150 minutes of activity per week, with 20 to 30 minutes of that considered vigorous).

If you don’t know how to do them, avoid these exercises.  I would add kettlebell swings to this list for sure.

There are lots and lots of misperceptions about paleo/primal.  Chris Kresser covers the 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Paleo.  It’s not about eating bacon with every meal, it’s about “eating nutrient dense, toxin-free, whole foods, moving our bodies regularly, sleeping at least 8 hours a night, managing our stress, and playing and having fun.”

Random Musings

Rush Club is an interesting take on functional fitness competition.

How could you really become like Batman?

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Written by Mike Torres

May 25th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

  • I’ve been a long time meditator, but have resisted using the Headspace app (don’t want to rely on tech for it). However after listening to an interview with the founder (a former Monk) on the Rich Roll Podcast, I’m intrigued.

    • I doubt a longtime meditator would get a lot of value out of it – but it’s a great onboarding experience. It’s actually because it’s tech that I wanted to give it a try, though I suspect after a few months I won’t use it. In general, I find guided meditation to be a little easier for me though, so an app like Buddhify is also an option. And given that it’s the ONE habit I haven’t been able to dial-in despite trying multiple times, this is a big win for me.

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