In the 1970s, when psychic Uri Geller bent spoons, he claimed that he did it with his mind. Then debunker James “The Amazing” Randi revealed it was really a slick parlor trick – not super brainpower. So while neither Geller (or you) can bend metal by just thinking about it, there is a kind of super brainpower that can build your real muscle strength.
That’s the amazing discovery made at the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute. They recruited 29 adults to wear a cast immobilizing their hand and wrist. Fourteen of the cast-wearing volunteers were told to imagine they were exercising their arm and hand by pushing against something as hard as they could. They did 13 reps of the brain exercise five days a week for a month. The remaining cast-wearing participants didn’t do any visualization.
At the end of the month, the visualizers had lost about 24 percent of their muscle strength. The folks who wore the cast without doing brain exercises lost almost double that – 45 percent.
The nervous system, it turns out, can protect muscle strength during prolonged immobilization, whether from a cast or a long hospital stay. That’s important enough a discovery, but we suggest you apply it to everyday life. Daily, visualize yourself exercising (walking, jogging or doing resistance exercises). Imagine the effort that goes into increasing endurance. It’s a good way to boost your motivation, so exercise becomes a regular part of your life and, who knows, you just might think yourself some extra muscle power along the way!
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Knee replacement recovery
Most of the 600,000 folks who have knee-replacement surgery every year in North American would agree that the pain is pretty excruciating. But for everyone with knee replacements on the horizon, there’s great news.
A new pain-control technique offers patients relief for up to two days post-op, speeding up recovery and increasing knee function. In fact, many folks are up and walking hours after the surgery. What’s the secret? A Henry Ford Hospital study says that injecting a long-acting numbing medicine – liposomal bupivacaine – into the tissue around the knee during surgery does the trick.
Unfortunately, as North Americans become increasingly overweight and obese, ever more people will need knee replacements: a June 2014 study found that 95 percent of current surgeries were attributable to overweight or obesity. We’re glad for you folks who need a new knee that there’s improved pain control. But, honestly, you future candidates out there, wouldn’t you rather avoid the procedure altogether?
The Super Bowl should be renamed the Super Guacamole Bowl. That’s when football-crazed Americans down around 78 million pounds of avocados – or 156 million of those succulent green-fleshed fruit. Most of avocados’ super-healthy goodness is mashed into guacamole, but unfortunately many of the 108 million Americans watching the game pile that guac on fried corn chips, high-LDL cholesterol-pumping nachos, fatty quesadillas or boffo burritos. That means a lot of the avocado’s heart-health benefits gets lost in a stew of inflammation-promoting saturated fat foods (cheese, meat), trans fats (shortening used for frying) and processed grains (chips, white flour tortillas).
By itself, an avocado is a great way to lower your lousy LDL cholesterol – and to give yourself a major heart-loving boost. In a new study in Journal of the American Heart Association, folks who ate one avocado a day for five weeks saw their LDL drop 13.5mg/dL.
If you try eating a daily avocado, make sure you keep a healthy balance in your overall diet. One avocado contributes about 260 calories, 15 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 3 grams each of polyunsaturated and saturated fats (close to the per-meal max of 4 grams sat fat). But don’t hesitate to incorporate avocado into salads, chopped into brown rice or quinoa, or mixed into yogurt with sliced almonds or chopped walnuts. To keep those avocado heart-healthy benefits on Super Bowl Sunday, make guac with organic ingredients: Mix in diced celery, peppers and carrots; serve with whole-wheat chips.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.