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Old 07-18-12, 08:38 AM   #1
Chasbuddy
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Fitness and improved Mental Aquitity

Ive always heard that improving physical fitness is good for mental well being. Better circ etc. I never had a way to quantify it before I started riding my meager mileage though. This may not be the place for this discussion but Ive noticed an improvement that just boggles my mind.

Like many here, I have other interests. Chief among them is Ham Radio. For five years a friend in Boston and I have been practicing the arcane practice of sending Morse Code manually-no computers. We began at near twenty words per minute with a goal of sending and receiving 40 words per minute. We practice one hour per day and have not missed a day in five years barring scheduled vacations etc. Over the course of that number of hours one gets to understand how the mind and body work over a period of concentration. For instance the second half hour was always miserable with sending errors etc. We both suffered this and we both commented on it many times.

My friend plays tennis and hikes. He is older than I be perhaps 2 years. Im turning 67 on Aug 1st. In our normal regimen of exercise nothing changed complete with the miserable second half hour of high sending error rates for those five years. This week I made a step change in my exercising. I added to what I was already doing by adding a five mile cycle ride into my YMCA regimen. That was sufficient enough a change to make a noticeable difference in my focus/concentration/small motor muscle coordination to improve the whole hour error rate. I saw it again last evening and was astounded. This may not seem like a big deal to someone that has not experienced it but it is to me. It was like turning on a lamp switch. I certainly do not know if this is a proxy for improved fitness (how could that be in such a short time?) but it was an amazing alteration and quite noticeable.
Mostly we practiced during daytime hours as I tend to fall asleep early-like 9 PM. This week we have been meeting at 8 PM local time and I find I am not drowsy and much more alert. No send half hour of high errors and sloppy sending. I can attribute this to nothing else save increased physical activity.

Life is a strange journey of discovery. Anyway the thought stands until it doesn't I suppose. I hope this isnt obvious to everyone and this post provides some info that others find useful.

Best, Chas
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Old 07-18-12, 08:48 AM   #2
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+100. Many yrs ago my golf handicap suddenly plummeted (15 to 5). Everyone wanted to know why. The only answer I had was that I had taken up running very aggressively.

I once did a test on myself where I would go 2 yrs taking Ginko Boloba every morning, then 2yrs off, 2 yrs on, 2 yrs off. Noticed no difference. Similar shorter tests on other things... my conclusion was: the greatest effect on my mental alertness seemed to come from:

1) exercise
2) coffee
3) more sleep

in that order.
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Old 07-18-12, 09:28 AM   #3
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Yes, exercise does help one's mental acuity.
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Old 07-18-12, 09:42 AM   #4
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All strenuous exercise does for me is send me and the brain to sleep

But take it the other way and lack of exercise and the body and the brain gets lethargic.
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Old 07-18-12, 10:07 AM   #5
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I am another of the rapidly disappearing code operators. My experience, and I think this is generally acknowledged wihtin the ham radio community, is that learning code involves plateaus. One might be stuck at 25 words per minute for some time despite daily practice, and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, he improves. Don't know why - this is just the way learning works sometimes. I suspect this is what you have observed.


My personal experience is that exercise seems to make me stupider. At least until I have eaten and rested.
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Old 07-19-12, 01:59 PM   #6
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Yes, exercise does help one's mental acuity.
You must ride a lot.
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Old 07-19-12, 04:03 PM   #7
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I once did a test on myself where I would go 2 yrs taking Ginko Boloba every morning, then 2yrs off, 2 yrs on, 2 yrs off.
No attention deficit disorder in you.
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Old 07-19-12, 04:12 PM   #8
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Hey, I like the word "aquitity." The quality of mental improvement attributable to exercise. Sounds good to me. Put it on the list for next year's Oxford!

But in my case, the more I ride, the sleepier I get. And I'm starting to have these "senior's moments" that no amount of riding will fix. Darn!

Luis
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Old 07-19-12, 06:49 PM   #9
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Hey, I like the word "aquitity." The quality of mental improvement attributable to exercise. Sounds good to me. Put it on the list for next year's Oxford!

But in my case, the more I ride, the sleepier I get. And I'm starting to have these "senior's moments" that no amount of riding will fix. Darn!

Luis
Thank God. I thought it was some kind of sex thing. (And I hate being out of the loop.)
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Old 07-19-12, 07:55 PM   #10
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40 wpm CW is pretty quick. I operated a lot of CW but never got to that level. When I retire, I plan to get my station put back together and on the air. Perhaps my cycling will help increase my speed on the key.
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Old 07-19-12, 09:07 PM   #11
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40 wpm is a speed that I will never attain. I struggled for several years until I got to 20 wpm and got my extra class license. I now struggle just to copy 5wpm. I do think that exercise is very helpful in our general health and is very important.
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Old 07-20-12, 06:19 AM   #12
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Hey, I like the word "aquitity."
How about mental "antiquity"? I think I might have that.
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Old 07-20-12, 06:58 AM   #13
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wait, what?

lol couldn't resist
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Old 07-20-12, 02:40 PM   #14
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Admittedly what the OP observed may have been a fluke -- something that would have happened anyway. But I do not think so...

I have noticed a link between exercize and intelligence ever since being kid when I puzzled over why many of the jocks spent more hours practicing football, basketball and such rahter than studying -- but still got better grades...

Then, when my mom was forced into a nursing home I spent a lot of time in there and was able to watch the progression/deterioration of the incoming patients: People would come in with physical disabilities but, in six months of sitting in a wheel chair, the light was gone from their eyes and they looked dull. In a year, they had dementia. In 3 years they were dead.

Then, a while back I read a publication from Harvard Medical school on aging and they spelled it out very clearly. Most dementias and other losses of cognitive abilities are related to blood flow (or the lack of it). That lack can be from multiple TIAs or silent strokes or even simply from diminished blood over a long period of time from semi-clogged arteries...

Their conclusion was: Taking care of your heart IS taking care of your brain. That is: exercize can help to prevent the most common forms of MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) and dementia...

.... So, as they say: Shut Up and Keep Pedaling!
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