©Vital Aging 4 Women 2017
As a Detroiter, I’ve always leaned toward the Motown sound, along with sixties music and of course, classic rock from the seventies. But recently, I’ve been wanting to introduce some new music to my brain. My musical tastes are in a time warp, and I need to shake them up a little!
The old songs I listen to have a way of evoking long-forgotten memories, good times, old friends and loved ones. The song “Isn’t Life Strange,” from Blues album, Seventh Sojourn, always makes me think about my brother, who died unexpectedly in April of 2000. Other songs bring back memories of great (and not so great) times during my angst-ridden teenage years.
Would you want to live without music? I sure wouldn’t. Imagine a movie without music in the background, developing the mood of that particular scene. Imagine seeing a bride walking down the aisle without hearing that familiar tune that defines a wedding. Not having lullabies to sing your child to sleep, nor songs that make us want to get up and dance with abandon. . . . Life would definitely be strange!
For me, there’s no denying that music is a part of vital aging – just because it brings pleasure to our lives. It makes us want to dance. Sharing a concert experience with our friends enhances our friendships.
But there’s more to it than that. There’s also scientific evidence that shows how music enhances our mental health. For example, listening to it can boost our mood (Not that I needed any research to realize that).
According to health experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, music can keep our brains youthful. Music engages the brain, lessens anxiety, improve our sleep. Listening to new music may boost our creativity.
And believe it or not, our brains love when we hear new music! Read why in this article, The Science behind the Awesome Feeling of Discovering New Music.
I felt the dopamine in my brain kicking on when, shortly after getting hooked on Alt Nation, I discovered a new song, My Type, by a group called Saint Motel. It made me want to move in a way that vaguely resembles dancing. I have my daughter to thank for that, since if it wasn’t for her, I’d be listening to the same old, same old tunes!
For Further Reading:
Music Therapy for Health and Wellness
Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk from 2013 is the most unique talk you’ll ever hear about stress! We’ve all heard that stress kills. In fact, for many years, she herself relayed that message to people, along with providing stress-coping strategies. Then she adapted her beliefs, after getting some revelations from a long-term study showing that it’s not stress that kills, but rather, how people react to stress. By changing how we face stress in our lives, we can make our lives healthier and happier.
Check it out, and let me know what you think about Kelly’s point of view on stress and its positive aspects.
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I recently read The 17 Day Plan to Stop Aging, (2012) written by Dr. Mike Moreno. The title wasn’t quite accurate, of course, since we all know we can’t stop those sneaky hands of time from creeping up on us. However, the doc did provide some useful strategies for vital aging.
- Meditation may help us sleep better. At least 40% of Americans don’t get enough of the quality sleep they need to function well during the day.* Many of these insomnia sufferers are women. Our insomnia is caused by hormonal changes we face in our lives, such as pregnancy and perimenopause.
- Meditation relieves stress, and can help those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression.
- Meditation provides other mental health benefits: an increase in happiness, self-acceptance and awareness, concentration, focus and more – as found in the article, The Benefits of Meditation You Never Knew, from the Art of Living website.
- Meditation can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even increase energy levels, just to name a few physical health benefits.
- Meditation may help strengthen our aging brain by slowing down the loss of gray matter, according to UCLA researchers.
I first discovered that I had high cholesterol levels when I was 23 years old. I was skinny as a rail, but inside, fat was globbing up my arteries. (Is globbing a word? Not sure). My body produced cholesterol like it was going out of style. I inherited this tendency from my mom, along with her nose (aarrrgghh!) and eyes.
Of course, I also ate the worst foods in the world, never thinking about cholesterol or how it could lead to hardening of the arteries, which could lead to heart attacks . . . Hell, I was 23, what did I know? At that age, you’re gonna live forever! (On the plus side, I did exercise like a fiend; aerobics being the fitness class of choice.)
Even my mom’s heart health woes didn’t faze me.
She suffered from high cholesterol and high blood pressure, a dangerous combination. In her sixties and seventies she suffered from heart attacks, angina, mini strokes . . . She had angioplasties and bypasses. She visited doctors way too often, and depended on a wide variety of prescription medications. Yikes. Not a pleasant way to live.
It wasn’t until I got to the top of that proverbial hill, at age 40, that I really began to take my heart health seriously. Suddenly, middle age was staring me down, and I didn’t like the look on its face. When my doctor took a blood test and my cholesterol level was something like 275, I knew I had to make some lifestyle changes.
I started fighting against cholesterol. I knew it wasn’t enough to simply exercise. I worked to eat a much healthier diet (you know, veggies, fruit, beans, whole grains, the whole kit and caboodle) and took natural cholesterol fighting supplements.
My dad was a BIG fan of garlic (I swear, he actually put in on his oatmeal) and claimed it cured high cholesterol and anything else that ailed you. He was pretty darn healthy, for an old guy. Of course, you could also smell him a mile away.
Taking my Dad’s sage advice, I tried so-called odor-free garlic supplements. My hubby let me know, gently, of course, that they weren’t the best form of perfume. (What?? The labels lied??).
Lifestyle changes improved my sense of well-being. However, it wasn’t enough to make significant changes in my total cholesterol level. My doctor prescribed Lipitor®, a statin drug, and along with diet and exercise, my total cholesterol level is at 179 (at my ripe old age of 60). There are pros and cons to taking statin drugs, as described in this document from the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
Luckily, I haven’t suffered from any noticeable side effects. And for some people, taking charge of their heart health through diet and exercise may be enough to avoid prescription medications.
Other ways to lower cholesterol levels:
©Vital Aging 4 Women. 2017
C. Noel Bairey Merz is director of the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, where she is a professor of medicine.
As we’ve all now realized, heart disease is the #1 killer of women, causing more deaths than breast cancer. In this Ted Talk, Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz talks about how we can deal with this health crisis, making the important point that research has long focused on men; and that this needs to change. Women have different kinds of heart attacks than men, and different symptoms when having a heart attack. Continue reading
My husband and I just got back from our annual July vacation, which starts with a family reunion in Manistee, Michigan. This year, after leaving Manistee, we drove up to the Upper Peninsula, one of the beauties of the mitten state.
We traveled to Tahquamenon Falls State Park and rode on the Toonerville Trolley through the woods (and saw two, count ‘em, two black bears!). We enjoyed walking the trail to the lower falls, taking pleasure in the scenic beauty of the plants, trees, and of course, the rushing water tumbling over rocks and spilling into the river. Later, as we drove back to our hotel, we noticed that the sky seemed immense; it wasn’t blocked by buildings, billboards and other clutter. Lack of traffic, police and ambulance sirens, and all the other city noises added to the pleasure of being “up north.” Continue reading
Ted Talk Tuesday will be presented every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Please visit again on Tuesday, July 18th.
Do you remember the movie, Still Alice? It came out in 2015. Julianne Moore is Alice, a woman who struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. In her case, it was familial; she carried the gene for AD. This neurological disease has also been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, along with other modifiable risk factors. In a recent bulletin, the AARP pointed out that the cases and costs of AD continue to rise, with no end in sight.* Continue reading