Could Your Job Help Preserve Your Aging Brain?

Mentally stimulating work may keep your mind sharp, research says

By Maureen Salamon, HealthDay Reporter

illustration of brain with cogs and wheelsTHURSDAY, Nov. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Jobs requiring intellectually challenging tasks may help preserve thinking skills and memory as workers age, a new study suggests.

The researchers compared IQ scores obtained around age 11 from more than 1,000 Scottish people with their memory and reasoning scores around age 70. The scientists found that those who had mentally stimulating jobs appeared to retain sharper thinking even years after retirement.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh scored workers’ jobs for their complexity with people, data and other things. Complex data jobs might involve coordinating or synthesizing data, for example. Less complex occupations might involve comparing or copying data.

In working with others, more complex occupations involve instructing, negotiating or mentoring. Less complex roles might involve taking instructions or helping.

“We see that those in more complex jobs generally do better on a range of cognitive ability measures,” said study author Alan Gow, an assistant professor of psychology at Heriot-Watt University and the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“That’s not necessarily surprising … but we were able to add an interesting twist [because] we had data on our participants’ cognitive ability in childhood,” Gow added.

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FDA’s Dr. Margaret Hamburg on Balancing the Risks, Benefits for 310M Patients

An intriguing interview with a brilliant and interesting person sharing a bit of her life story and unique insights.

, Margaret A. Hamburg, MD Disclosures

A Distinguished Start to a Distinguished Career

Eric J. Topol, MD: Hello. I am Eric Topol, Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. Joining me today is Dr Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I am interviewing Dr Hamburg asDr. Eric J. Topol interviews Dr. Hamburg part of our series on the most interesting people in medicine.

You have a remarkable history. Your parents were both physicians. Your mother was the first African American to graduate from Vassar and Yale Medical School. Your father was president of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). You are perhaps the only family whose members have all been elected to the IOM.

Dr Topol: On your children’s birth certificates, you are listed not just as their mother but as the New York City health commissioner.

Dr Hamburg: That’s right. They may be the only two kids in the history of New York whose mother signed their birth certificates in two places. We are very proud of that, although when I looked at their birth certificates, I realized that we needed to upgrade them because they aren’t suitable for framing.

Dr Topol: You graduated from Harvard Medical School?

Dr Hamburg: Yes, and I did my residency in internal medicine at what is now New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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The Science of Productivity: How Using Fitness Apps like Fitbit Can Impact Your Performance at Work

5 minute read, by BRIAN HONIGMAN

Icartoon of fitness braceletn a pair of recent studies, the CDC called attention to two very alarming trends. Americans are not GETTING NEARLY ENOUGH EXERCISE and a majority fall many hours short of the recommended AMOUNT OF SLEEP. Not only is this bad for our health, it harms our PRODUCTIVITY as well.

Americans WORK MORE hours than workers in nearly any other country but it seems as if we are doing so by sacrificing our time for exercise and sleep. Unsurprisingly, the work we do while tired and unhealthy is not very productive.

An hour spent working instead of sleeping or exercising is not an even trade off. The secret to being as productive as possible is striking the right balance between taking care of ourselves while maximizing the time we spend working at peak productivity.

However, this is easier said than done. With such hectic schedules and many distractions it can simply be too hard to keep track of how much sleep and exercise we get and how much we need. Luckily, there are a host of tools that do this incredibly well.

Below are four examples of tangible gains in productivity that fitness apps like Fitbit can help you achieve.

Working up to a Healthy Amount of Exercise to Avoid Low Productivity.

Studies show that infrequent to no exercise correlates to A 50 PERCENT INCREASED RISK OF LOW PRODUCTIVITY. The lesson here is that simply beginning even the lightest regiment of exercise can immediately lead to increased productivity.

Unfortunately many people do not have proper fitness habits in place, and these habits can prove tough to start. Fitness apps such as Fitbit excel at gently nudging users into healthy routines. For many who have not exercised in a very long time, regular reminders and instant feedback on small improvements can do wonders to drum up motivation.

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Smart Band Options Heating Up – Current Top 10

by Madelyn Kearns – Associate Editor

Much the way that Apple shone a light on the entire smartwatch category by unveiling Watch in September, Microsoft unwrapped a new device aptly christened Band.

photo of fitness band, smart bandOn the heels of Microsoft’s Band, Jawbone released two new options, the Up Move and UP3, while Fitbit pre-announced its Surge. Those stalwarts join an increasingly crowded space wherein the likes of household names such as Fitbit, LG, Nike and Sony reside alongside upstarts Amiigo, Misfit and Nabu.

What the bands all have in common: they track health data across varying points including calories, heart rate, movement, sleep and temperature.  Each one, of course, is slight different than the others.

Today’s smart bands, in fact, appear decidedly prescriptive and focused on vitals-tracking abilities and the wellness crux.

Could these be the patient monitoring devices of the future? Will physicians be prescribing smart bands for patients as a means to better study their vitals and symptoms?

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Non-Traditional Schedules Can Contribute To Shift Work Disorder

By by Gregg Cognac
Physician Assistant/Director of Clinical Affairs, Medcor

female office worker asleep at her deskThe human body is biologically programmed to sleep during the night and be awake and active during the day. This biological program is a 24-hour internal clock referred to as the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm disturbances that consistently or recurrently interrupt sleep can affect people who work non-traditional hours such as rotating, evening, or night shifts.

These disturbances cause problems with normal psychological and physiological body processes and can lead to a condition called shift work disorder (SWD) or shift work sleep disorder (SWSD).

Symptoms and Impact

People with SWSD commonly have symptoms of excessive sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and lack of energy. SWSD can have a devastating impact on personal well being, family life and work, increasing the risk for injuries, accidents, work errors, reduced performance, irritability, depression, and even substance abuse. This disorder can also lead to serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, digestive disease, diabetes, and obesity.

The best strategy to alleviate symptoms is for shift workers to make sleep a priority and commit to behavioral or lifestyle modification changes. Some examples include exercising before your shift, not before bed, minimizing exposure to light after a night shift, keeping a regular sleep schedule (even on weekends), limiting excess caffeine or alcohol, and avoiding nicotine.