Best Exercises for the Brain

This article was published in US News on 5/20/19 about what the best exercises for brain health are. There was a study done by Columbia University and the University of Miami. The studied compared two different sets of results taken 5 years apart of 876 senior citizens. The tests performed were brain scans and tests to test memory and thinking skills. The study showed that there was a greater mental decline for those people who performed low-activity exercises compared to high activity exercises. Low activity exercises can include walking and doing yoga. On the other hand, high activity exercises can include running and other cardio workouts. The results showed that there was a difference of 10 years of brain aging for those that completes high activity exercises. Researches did also take into account factors outside of exercise that can influence brain health before coming up with the 10 year aging difference. Lastly, they found that even performing daily jogs or other aerobic exercise can help spark the growth of new brain cells.

I think this article was really cool because most people (including myself) may think that you have to do mentally challenging things like puzzles or other mind strenuous activities to sharpen your brain. I think it is cool that exercise can have that affect on sharpening your brain and keeping it young. What also was interesting to me is that there was a difference on what type of exercise can influence your brain health whether it is low or high activity. The article did touch on what future next steps could be to further gather information about this topic, but I think if they could narrow down what exercises specifically could be performed to enhance brain health that would be cool. Overall, I think it was interesting to read and how they did they study was fascinating to me. This is relatable to our class because it talks about different intensity exercises and we know from class that these intensity differences can affect a lot of different biological factors in our body. Lastly, it is significant to us today because as we age and as people’s life expectancies start to increase it is helpful to have this information of how to keep our minds sharp as we get older.

Week 7 post

I found an article that talks about a possible breakthrough in diagnosing CTE in a living person. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease that is often caused by persistent head trauma. This disease usually occurs among athletes that play contact sports, such as football. As of right now, the only way to diagnose CTE is after death through a brain autopsy. However, a new study has identified a possible biomarker in the cerebrospinal fluid which could allow doctors to diagnose CTE in a living person. According to the study, the biomarker is a protein called tau. The study consisted of 22 men who were professional athletes and have experienced multiple concussions. The study also included 12 people with Alzheimer’s disease and five healthy individuals to serve as the control group. The researchers found elevated levels of tau in the cerebrospinal fluid for more than half of the athletes (12 out of the 22). The 12 athletes with elevated tau had higher levels than the healthy individuals, but lower levels than the participants with Alzheimers. Researchers also found that the athletes with elevated levels of tau scored lower on executive functioning tests than the athletes with normal tau levels. These tests assessed memory, attention, organizational and planning skills. Brain scans also showed that individuals with elevated tau show differences in white matter of the brain which are also seen during autopsies in people with CTE. Dr. Jamie Ullman, director of neurotrauma at North Shore University Hospital, believes that this discovery of a possible CTE biomarker is encouraging. However, she emphasized that additional studies with larger sample sizes and inclusive of both genders must be conducted. Unfortunately, there’s no way to definitively diagnose CTE in a living person as of right now, however, with more promising research we may be able to in the near future.

Training for a Marathon Can Reverse the Aging of Blood Vessels

I found this article from the European Society of Cardiology that explained the results of a recent British Heart Foundation study on first-time marathon runners. Runners who had never completed a marathon before completed six months of training leading up to the London Marathon. Before and post marathon they used MRI’s to measure their heart and blood vessels, a fitness test, and blood pressure and heart rate. The results they found were, to me at least, astonishing. After training for the marathon, the runners had aortas that were 4 years younger than they were before the training. Especially older participants had less aortic stiffness, even if their marathon time was slower. Blood pressure was lowered and overall fitness and heart rate lowered as well. I think one of the coolest things about this article is that it shows you don’t need to be an elite marathon runner to receive the health benefits of an active lifestyle. People running, even slowly, reversed their cardiovascular health and now have younger arteries. As we all know, part of aging is the stiffening of arteries which can lead to stroke and heart attack so if this is what it takes to reduce those risks, I think we should all consider training for a marathon- even if we might not be Nike’s Breaking2 top pick.


European Society of Cardiology. “Training for first-time marathon ‘reverses’ aging of blood vessels.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2019. <>.

Week 7 Blog Post

I decided to write about a NY Times article titled “The Heart of a Swimmer vs. The Heart of a Runner” by Gretchen Reynolds.

It’s already a known fact that exercise changes the workings of your heart, it particularly strengthens and enlarges the left ventricle with the increase need for oxygen. However, is there a difference between constantly swimming and constantly running?? A new study in Canada researched the hearts of elite swimmers and runners, they used elitist because they would have been doing these activities for years at high levels and will show an exaggerated difference in the structure/function of the heart. This makes it easier for researchers to see and prove the differences. They took 16 swimmers and 16 runners of different distances specialties, they asked them to visit the lab after not exercising for 12 hours and then to lie quietly. Both had superb heart health, and all had large efficient left ventricles. However they did find a subtle difference, runner’s hearts were able to fill with blood earlier than average and untwist more quickly than those who swam. This could be attributed to the fact that swimmer don’t have to fight gravity during exercise to get blood back to the heart, so it’s uncertain that it gives runners an advantage in that aspect. However, it’s very interesting to see how the slight difference in exercise can change the makeup and function of our bodies so easily! I wonder if their lung capacity and lactate threshold differ as well because they may not be affected by gravity, like the heart is.

Caffeine and exercise performance

Hi everyone,

Who had a cup of coffee this morning? One of the reasons people consume 2.25 billion cups of coffee a day (1) is because of its caffeine content. Take college students for example – you drink a cup of coffee before a sports game and you see improved performance. Is it a coincidence? My friend last year used to drink an iced coffee before every baseball game saying that he hit more home runs doing so. Is it simply superstition? I wanted to find out for myself.

It is important to note that coffee and caffeine are not the same. Caffeine is present in coffee, but consuming pure caffeine has different effects on performance then when consumed via coffee (2). It was found in one study that consuming pure caffeine improved the endurance of high quality runners from 32 min (at 10 km pace) to 41 min, while consumption of regular coffee had no effect (3). Caffeine is a trimethylxanthine and is catabolized by the cytochrome P450 system in the liver to dimethylxanthines. Consuming pure caffeine correlated with expected increases in free fatty acids (FFA) and epinephrine which could be tied to performance (3). While this study suggested that pure caffeine improved endurance but coffee did not, other studies have found coffee to also be ergogenic (2).

Many studies have shown that caffeine can be ergogenic in endurance activities where fatigue sets in between 30 and 60 min (2). Even if fatigue is at 30 min, it is unlikely that muscle glycogen has been depleted. One study showed that over half of the muscle glycogen remained at fatigue at 30 min, suggesting it is not the limiting factor regarding endurance here (2). So what about for longer feats of endurance? Ivy et al. had individuals perform 2 hours of
cycle exercise and, after caffeine ingestion, the participants generated a 7.3% greater total power output (4). This is not the only study to show a similar result in long distance, endurance exercise – in fact there are many (2). So, what about short, high intensity exercise? Less consensus has been placed here – while one study showed improved high intensity endurance, another showed no difference in caffeine vs. non-caffeine subjected participants (2).

There is much more research to sort through – about strength, endurance, power, etc. For my presentation, I will continue to sort through this research, but it is already readily apparent that caffeine does affect human performance in some, if not all, athletic and exercise endeavors. It is even more interesting that the dosage of caffeine necessary to improve performance may be lower than the acceptable standards of performance enhancing drug regulation committees of the Olympics (2).

Overall, I am excited to continue to tackle this issue and conduct my own correlative/anecdotal studies – I will see if I can’t repeat some of these findings by seeing how drinking coffee before a workout affects my own performance. I also cannot wait to hear about everyone else’s topics!

  1. Nieber, K. (2017). The Impact of Coffee on Health Author Pharmacokinetics and Mode of Action Bioactive Components in Coffee. Planta Medica, 83, 1256–1263.
  2. Graham TE. (2001). Caffeine and Exercise: Metabolism, Endurance, and Performance. Sports Medicine. (11):785-807.
  3. Graham TE, Hibbert E, and Sathasivam P. (1998). Metabolic and exercise endurance effects of coffee and caffeine ingestion. Journal of Applied Physiology. 85(3):883-9.
  4. Ivy JL, Kammer L, Ding Z. Wang B, Bernard JR, Liao YH, and Hwang J. (2009). Improved cycling time-trial performance after ingestion of a caffeine energy drink. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 19(1):31-78.

Presentation Topic

I decided that my presentation topic would be on how exercise affects the immune system. We all learned that exercise does have an effect on the immune system, positive and/or negative, so I wanted to explore this and look into some research on this.

I will most likely look into Upper respiratory tack infections, or URTIs, for this presentation. Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are the most common issues with the immune system that people get. URTIs include the common cold, sinusitis and tonsillitis. In the Martin et al. “Exercise and Respiratory Tract Viral Infections”, for example, they explore the relationship between the URTIs and the amount of exercise done by individuals. The research found a link between moderate, regular exercise and the reduced frequency of URTIs compared with an inactive state. There was also an increased risk of URTIs with excessive amounts of exercise.

This information is an example that exercise can influence a person’s vulnerability to infection. I found this research to be very interesting. It also agrees with the “open window” theory discussed in class, so I will most likely discuss this theory, and the research on it, as well.

Martin, Stephen A et al. “Exercise and respiratory tract viral infections.” Exercise and sport sciences reviews vol. 37,4 (2009): 157-64. doi:10.1097/JES.0b013e3181b7b57b

Week 6: Presentation Topic

The main question I plan to explore for my presentation is as follows: does exercising through an injury improve recovery time or does it result in permanent damage? For example, it’s possible to live with a torn meniscus, but they suggest getting it repaired if you plan to continue playing sports or plan to live a more physically intensive life. Going off of this example, if you do not get it repaired but live a more physically intensive life anyway, just treating the pain, will the surrounding tissues compensate for the torn meniscus making it possible to have an active lifestyle, or will ‘playing through the pain’ result in permanent knee damage?

I’m interested in this topic because I never took the necessary steps to repair my hip and I am still suffering from the consequences of this. During my research, I hope to determine whether the pain I feel is from not getting it repaired at all, never rehabbing it properly following the initial injury, or if I decide to get it fixed at some point, have I done irreversible damage to my joint?

As of now, the main questions I hope to answer are as follows: Is it helpful or hurtful to exercise while injured? What type of exercise is best (i.e. moderate intensity, low intensity, strength training, etc.)? Is exercising through an injury the foundation of physical therapy (i.e. is it beneficial to exercise through an injury as long as you are doing the correct exercises, the correct way)? What are the pros and cons of playing through the pain and never actually treating the injury? How does exercising while injured affect the recovery time? What are the benefits of physical therapy over surgical intervention? And the overarching question of how exercising through the pain may impact future overall health?

Since the majority of the class seems to have been an athlete at some point in their lives, I’m 98% certain that we have all gone back out on the field when we knew we were injured. There seems to be a mentality of powering through the pain so you don’t let your team down, but I don’t think many of us thought about the possible repercussions at the time.

So far, it seems like if you should exercise and the type/intensity of exercise depends entirely on the type/severity of the injury (which makes sense). However, for many injuries, it is suggested to swap whatever activity you were doing when you were injured, with a very modified version of the same activity to encourage the body to repair these areas without causing more damage. That being said, one of the main subtitles of the article was “Don’t Work Through the Pain” so I guess that answers that question (another article said if it hurts, even a little, stop doing it). As of now, it appears the only injury where you should really force an exercise would be a spinal cord injury, as exercise is “useful in facilitating elongation and/or synaptic activity of regenerating axons and plasticity of spinal neurons below the level of injury” [1]. Exercise was again suggested (albeit delayed) following a traumatic brain injury, as it can upregulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor involved in synaptic function, which enhances recovery [2].






Presentation Topic

I would like to research exercise and how it helps patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). My mom has had RA for most of my life. She used to run marathons and teach fitness classes. Even when she was first diagnosed she swore by exercise to make her feel better. Now, she does mostly hot yoga and orange theory fitness classes due to the limitations of her arthritis. If she skips a day at the gym she says she can feel it in her joints. I think my presentation could go in a number of directions.

I hope to find out what is the correlation between exercise and RA and in general, what studies that have been done to figure out the science behind this. So far I have found many websites that cite exercise as a way to reduce RA symptoms. But I want to know more about the limitations and how much exercise is too much for RA sufferers. I am also curious to find out of there is correlation between high amounts of exercise in youth/young adulthood that lead to RA. I do not think this is going to turn up many results, as RA does not have any proven causes aside from genetics, but I am interested to find out if there is some correlation.

Others should be interested in my topic because exercise has an effect on many different types of diseases, not just RA. Though RA currently effects about 1.3 billion Americans, this presentation may spark your interest to research more into how other diseases correlate with exercise.

So far I have found many studies on therapeutic exercises for RA sufferers. These are mostly focused on pain felt by those doing moderate aerobic exercises to those not. I have also found articles that look at intense verses light exercise on subjects with RA. Most of the articles state that exercise is all around beneficial and does not speed the disease.

Presentation Topic

My presentation topic is the affects of hydration of exercise. As we know it is important for you to stay hydrated whether you’re exercising or not. One thing that I was thinking about it how big of a roll does hydration play in outcomes of exercise. The other side of this that I was curious about is different ways to stay hydrated whether it is drinking water or sports drinks. A lot of the time you’ll see people drinking water, but then you watch a game on tv and after a big win they dump a bucket of gatorade on someone’s head. Another thing that interests me about this topic is the concept of salt pills for endurance to prevent dehydration during running or other exercise. It interests me that there are different ways besides just water to keep your body hydrated throughout a workout. I am not entirely sure if I am going to pick one of these topics to research or maybe touch a bit on all of them. Another interest I have relating to this topic is the concept of over hydration. There are times you can hear of over consumption trying to hydrate and that is just interesting to me. I never really thought you could drink too much water when trying to hydrate yourself.


I hope to find how these different ways of hydration affect the body and see if there may be one option that is better than another. I really don’t know if drinking a sports drink or water during, before, or after sports is better for you. I hope to find this out through my research of the topic. I also don’t entirely know how drinking water and other hydration factors affect your body so I hope to find that out too.


This is an interesting topic that people may be interested in because a lot of people work out and are athletes so they may want to know what is better to drink during exercise. Everybody drinks water on a daily basis so this topic can be an interest of everybody’s to learn more about hydration and the role it plays in your body function both during exercise and your daily life. If anybody has any suggestions on the topic or any additional things I should keep in mind while researching let me know!

Presentation Topic

For my presentation, I will be focusing on “fad” diets and how they affect a person during exercise. Fad diets are diets that are popular for a certain amount of time, similar to scrunchies in the 90’s (but they are making  a comeback!) These fad diets are the “get rich quick” way to lose weight, or gain other health advantages, however most of them show no long term benefits because most people go back to their bad habits after a month to 6 weeks.

A lot of these fad diets,  such as the “Keto”, “Whole 30”, and “Paleo” diets, want you to completely cut out complex carbs, such as grains, bread, rice, pasta, etc. and your main source of carbohydrates (if any!) are from fruits and veggies. Here is the conundrum… if everyone online and in info-mercials is telling you that to lose weight you need to eat right and exercise, how are you able to exercise if one of your main fuel sources is being completely cut out?

I will admit I have tried some of these fad diets, and working out multiple days a week I did not last very long because I felt so weak when I was at the gym. And once I got home I was looking for as much carbs. as I can possibly get.

So my main question for my presentation would have to be: If you aren’t a highly trained aerobic athlete, how does cutting out carbs./a lot of calories affect your workouts? I believe the results would yield very poor exercise routines after a few days and maybe if you stuck with the fad, which most people do not, your body may acclimate to the food deficit.