New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Reynolds wrote a whole book about the subject matter called The First 20 Minutes. To get the highest level of happiness and benefits for health, the key is not to become a professional athlete. On the contrary, a much smaller amount is needed to reach the level where happiness and productivity in every day life peaks:

“The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk – all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.”

Many of us have friends who don’t exercise. We worry about them. We know they are not only shortening their lives, but they’re also reducing the quality of the life they do have.

This is the article to send them. Do it now. Do it often.…

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Persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across domains of functioning, even after controlling for years of education. Informants also reported noticing more cognitive problems for persistent cannabis users. Impairment was concentrated among adolescent-onset cannabis users, with more persistent use associated with greater decline. Further, cessation of cannabis use did not fully restore neuropsychological functioning among adolescent-onset cannabis users. Findings are suggestive of a neurotoxic effect of cannabis on the adolescent brain and highlight the importance of prevention and policy efforts targeting adolescents.

Imagine that.

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The Real Reason to Exercise

August 20th, 2012 | Health

Most seem to think you should exercise to avoid dying early. That’s an acceptable reason, I suppose, but it misses what I believe to be much more important.

Exercise enables you to function the way you should function. It’s a magnifier of value. It helps you finish writing that book, to travel the world, and to generally become a better person. The key, of course, is that it makes it so that you want to do those things.

We should change the push for exercise from a narrative of avoiding death to one of avoiding mediocrity.


After I’d finished in the gym, I went straight home and had my usual breakfast of 4 Weetabix. As soon as I’d finished, I opened my MacBook Air, turned on the Pomodoro app and set the timer ticking for 30 minutes. I spent 30 minutes replying to emails from my “to-reply” label in Gmail, and then stopped when the timer went off. I quickly packed my bag and headed to Caffe Habitu, ready for a productive rest of the day.

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You dominated your Monday workout, setting the tone for workout domination for the whole week.  “This week I am going to hit new records with my workouts. I already kicked ass on Monday, let’s keep it up!”

You dominated your Monday with healthy food choices and meals, setting the tone for continued healthy eating all week.  Your brain permanently stays in “I’m making healthy choices this week” mode.

You popped right out of bed on Monday without snoozing, so snoozing becomes less of an issue with each passing day.  It’s not a question of willpower, it’s just “what you do.”

You were incredibly productive on Monday, which makes the rest of your week much less stressful.  

So stop sucking and start dominating.

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  1. Don’t allow healthcare providers to have mission statements that look like this:
Screw our policy holders AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE so that we have maximum profit this quarter.
A new UCLA rat study is the first to show how a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning — and how omega-3 fatty acids can counteract the disruption. The peer-reviewed Journal of Physiology publishes the findings in its May 15 edition.

“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

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Life-span theories explain successful aging with an adaptive management of emotional experiences like regret. As opportunities to undo regrettable situations decline with age, a reduced engagement into these situations represents a potentially protective strategy to maintain well-being in older age. Yet, little is known about the underlying neurobiological mechanisms supporting this claim. We used a multimodal psychophysiological approach in combination with a sequential risk-taking task that induces the feeling of regret and investigated young as well as emotionally successfully and unsuccessfully (i.e., late-life depressed) aged participants. Responsiveness to regret was specifically reduced in successful aging paralleled by autonomic and frontostriatal characteristics indicating adaptive shifts in emotion regulation. Our results suggest that disengagement from regret reflects a critical resilience factor for emotional health in older age.

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Daytime sleepiness may have more to do with lifestyle and emotions than it does with a poor night’s sleep. In a new study, obesity and depression were found to be the culprits behind daytime sleepiness.

Sometimes coffee does not do the trick when trying to cure daytime sleepiness. While a lack of sleep and sleep apnea did play a role in feeling lethargic during the day, emotional stress and obesity were the two main causes of daytime drowsiness. Researchers believe that the sleepiness epidemic parallels the current obesity epidemic.

Long article (yawn).

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Telomeres are repeating DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that protect and buffer genes from nucleotide loss as cells divide. Telomere length (TL) shortens with age in most proliferating tissues, limiting cell division and thereby contributing to senescence. However, TL increases with age in sperm, and, correspondingly, offspring of older fathers inherit longer telomeres.

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When the patients received ketamine, their depression symptoms significantly improved within 40 minutes, and remained improved over 3 days. Overall, 79% of the patients improved with ketamine, but 0% reported improvement when they received placebo.

A truly stunning find. I imagine a ton of good is going to come from this. I wonder how easy it is to get this stuff.

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walk drive
Carlin Robinson, 12, walks from her grandmother’s car to the school bus in Manchester, Ky. Her house can be seen in the background. A study published in 2010, investigating high obesity rates in the town found that residents used cars to minimize walking distance, to the detriment of their health.

Photograph by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images.

If walking is a casualty of modern life the world over—the historian Joe Moran estimates, for instance, that in the last quarter century in the U.K., the amount of walking has declined by 25 percent—why then do Americans walk even less than people in other countries? Here we need to look not at pedometers, but at the odometer: We drive more than anyone else in the world. (Hence a joke: In America a pedestrian is someone who has just parked their car.) Statistics on walking are more elusive than those on driving, but from the latter one might infer the former: The National Household Travel Survey shows that the number of vehicle trips a person took and the miles they traveled per day rose from 2.32 trips and 20.64 miles in 1969 to 3.35 and 32.73 in 2001. More time spent driving means less time spent on other activities, including walking. And part of the reason we are driving more is that we are living farther from the places we need to go; to take just one measure, in1969, roughly half of all children lived a mile or more from their school; by 2001 three out of four did. During that same period, unsurprisingly, the rates of children walking to school dropped from roughly half to approximately 13 percent.

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I feel like I cannot be the only one who is disgusted every time I walk through someones exhaled cigarette smoke while walking on a public sidewalk or entering/exiting a public building. In populous areas, this equates to every few steps.

People crowd around the doors to their establishments, which happen to be right on the sidewalk, and inhale into their lungs a cocktail of long-established and well-documented poisons. And then they blow it into the sidewalk where the public walk through it and breath it in as well. I can smell the stink of someone smoking over a hundred feet away, including in the car in front of me (which often has kids in it).

Public smoking is a repugnant and sickening anachronism. It belongs in 2012 like an interracial dating ban belongs in Star Trek. Happily, it appears some are figuring this out. I am personally going to raise the issue locally here in San Francisco, and I encourage you to do the same in your local area. In the meantime I’m exploring the idea of confronting offenders with a simple question:

Excuse me, you do realize how rude it is to stink up this entire area with documented poisons that other people have no choice but to breathe?

I am also thinking of starting a campaign of recording rude (redundant) smokers throwing their butts out of their cars and sending the videos to the local police department in hopes they’ll be fined. Same with those dropping them on the sidewalk like they’re too special to find a garbage can. Maybe getting a $1,000 fine for being an asshole will change some behavior.

It’s time for public smoking–and the extraordinarily rudeness of pollution and littering associated with it–to be considered as nasty as it is, and for the law to reflect this view.


After the single session on the treadmill, the animals were allowed to rest and feed, and then their brain glycogen levels were studied. The food, it appeared, had gone directly to their heads; their brain levels of glycogen not only had been restored to what they had been before the workout, but had soared past that point, increasing by as much as a 60 percent in the frontal cortex and hippocampus and slightly less in other parts of the brain. The astrocytes had “overcompensated,” resulting in a kind of brain carbo-loading.

The levels, however, had dropped back to normal within about 24 hours.

That was not the case, though, if the animals continued to exercise. In those rats that ran for four weeks, the “supercompensation” became the new normal, with their baseline levels of glycogen showing substantial increases compared with the sedentary animals. The increases were especially notable in, again, those portions of the brain critical to learning and memory formation — the cortex and the hippocampus.

As if we needed another reason to exercise regularly.

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Image by pshan427

In both health and information security it’s easy to become conceptually constrained by external advice, recommendations, and standards. The numbers of entities available to tell you what you should–or must-do is legion, and such wisdom is often coupled with dire warnings if you don’t listen.

In infosec we’re told by credit card companies that we must use x, y, and z types of controls to protect a, b, and c types of data. The government tells us we must do a whole set of things to protect health information, and that you must ensure nobody in your company is committing fraud. Examples of repercussions include anything from fines to criminal prosecution.

With health advice it’s much the same. We’re consistently hosed down with what to avoid and what to embrace. So and so leads to diabetes, which leads to heart disease, which leads to death, etc. Overeating leads to x, which leads to y, which is associated with z. Watch the carbs. Don’t eat too much fat. Control your portions. Get your vegetables, but don’t skimp on the protein. And whatever your path, don’t forget to get enough vitamin E, and fish oil, and garlic, and vitamin D, ad infinitum.

While health and information security are obviously different worlds, they’re similar in one key way:

If you adhere to solid fundamentals you don’t have to worry much about checklists for “healthy” or “secure” behavior. Fundamentals largely remove the need to obsess about external validation.

If you’re worried about heart disease and diabetes and vitamin deficiency and high blood pressure and…(you get the idea), try eating small amounts of healthy food–mostly raw vegetables with some fish and other meats thrown in sometimes. Take a simple, high-quality multivitamin. Get 30 minutes of exercise every day.

If you do those things you soon won’t have to worry much about your next physical.

And it’s the same for information security. Open a book on security fundamentals and you’ll find the analogs to living a health lifestyle. Unique identification., proper authentication, authorization, and accounting. Conduct security monitoring. Ask yourself if you’re secure, and keep asking yourself.

Do these basics and notice that all of your PCI, SOX, HIPPA, and other requirements simply become non-issues. It’s not that they go away per say, it’s just that by behaving properly in the first place you will have satisfied them automatically.

Mastering fundamentals the effortless method for achieving high standards. Focus on excelling at the basics and leave the need for checklists and endless advice for those who refuse to do so.