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Neuroscientist Says When You Travel, Your Brain Reacts In A Special Way

Neuroscientist Says When You Travel, Your Brain Reacts In A Special Way

Everyone loves a change of scene or an exciting trip away, but did you know that spending time in a new location will literally change your brain for the better?

If you’ve ever suspected that traveling doesn’t just further your personal growth but actually makes you healthier, you’ll be pleased to know that you have research on your side.

Your Brain and Traveling

According to University of Pittsburgh neuroscientist Paul Nussbaum, traveling can stimulate your brain and encourage the growth of new connections within cerebral matter.[1] The key concept is the link between new experiences and the generation of dendrites within the brain.

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Dendrites are branch-like extensions that grow from brain neurons. Their role is to facilitate the transmission of information between different regions of the brain. In brief, the greater your number of functioning dendrites, the better your brain will perform. This aids in maintaining cognitive functions such as memory and attention.

Nussbaum points out that when you travel to a new location, your brain is forced to make sense of new stimuli. This triggers the production of new dendrites. In Nussbaum’s words, your brain “literally begins to look like a jungle.”

Your trip doesn’t even have to be relaxing or go according to plan for you to enjoy the benefits. Although we would all prefer that our flights be on time, and our rental or hotel to be perfect, a degree of stress and anxiety can play a positive role in promoting dendrite growth.

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This is because when we come up against an obstacle or problem, our brains are forced to process the situation at hand and devise a solution. This promotes dendritic growth, and also gives our general problem-solving abilities a boost.

Nussbaum also explains that if you cannot travel, you can still employ these basic principles to stimulate your brain. Think about how you can take steps to break free from your usual routine and encourage your brain to view life from a new perspective. Consider changing the time you wake up in the morning, the route you take to work, where you eat lunch, and the kind of reading material you usually use to pass the time on your commute.

If you are serious about stimulating your brain, take up a new hobby, or even go back to school and get a new qualification. Even if it doesn’t lead to a change of career or promotion at work, the challenge it will present to your brain make it time and money well spent.

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Moreover, classes and community-based hobbies give you the chance to meet other people. Not only will this increase your motivation, but it will also allow you to rethink your existing attitudes and opinions. When we take time to talk with other people, they often surprise us with their own unique outlook on the world. Forcing your brain to make sense of someone else’s thoughts can be stimulating.

If you don’t have the time or resources to invest in a new pastime or class, consider at least making time on a regular basis to try some puzzles. Wordsearches, crosswords, logic puzzles, and number games are all excellent ways of giving your brain a workout.

So if you haven’t already booked your annual vacation yet, consider making it a priority. If you can’t get away for even a few days, at least shake up your daily routine or take up a new hobby.

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Not only will you have a bank of positive memories from which to draw on more mundane days, but your brain will thank you.

Reference

[1] Chicago Tribune: Travel as a health regimen

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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