Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age: Optimism,Trail Running, and Cognitive Psychotherapy
It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Optimism,Trail Running, and Cognitive Psychotherapy

The June 6, 2011 article in Time titled “The Optimism Bias” by Tali Sharot explains neurologically the hard wire process of how we operate. In other words, the capacity for optimism lies within our brain structure. This scientist identifies  the prefrontal cortex( the area responsible for planning and goal setting); the hippo campus(  the area crucial to memory); the amygdala( the area that allows us to process emotions; the caudate( the area which processes rewards); and the rostral  anterior cingulate cortex( the area that boosts the flow of positive emotions) the components in both the right and left sides of our brain that is responsible for our optimism.
This neurological model helps explain our short-term memory, why many of us simply forget the pain, and are future oriented. Take for example, my recent training run on Sunday. I was miserable, in discomfort, tired, and felt like my legs were stuck in concrete. Was I having fun? Are you kidding? Do I want to re-experience that five hour self-inflicted torture again? No! I can easily think of other events, that at different moments, I felt like crap such as during the Western states 100, the American River 50, other training runs, and more recently my 50 K. run in Malibu. If I just focused on the discomfort and the negative, I would not again set foot on the trail nor would you.
Thank goodness we are hardwired to be more optimistic than realistic. Just think of all the examples in our lives that parallel my trail running example. We know that generally speaking, we expect things to turn out better than they do.  When it comes to interpersonal relationships, and health issues, we often think the better. We don’t necessarily think that our relationships are going to fail nor do we think we are going to come down with a terrible disease. So this optimism component is related to the evolutionary mechanism in brain development. We don’t just focus and become stuck by what happened in the past. If we did, just think of the limitations. We think things will be better. Notice the importance of thinking in all this.  How we think about events is extremely important.
Now of course, I am not talking about somebody who is clinically depressed, has an anxiety disorder diagnosis or some other mental illness. If you’re depressed or anxious you get stuck in doom or gloom, and are in a state of constant worry.  If you have a  panic disorder diagnosis, you don’t feel in control and might think you’re going crazy. The fear is devastating and one might think that they are dying because of all the discomfort in and around the chest that they experience. Fortunately, there is psychotherapy and medication as main treatments. In addition, physical exercise is recommended as well. Research has shown that physical exercise 3 to 5 times a week along with proper diet reduces depression and anxiety. Cognitive psychotherapy, group therapy or group classes, medication, exercise, diet has shown to be of great benefit. Remember, prescription # 1. Get inspired. It’s okay to begin a new activity by taking baby steps. A physical activity can help in improving physical fitness, losing weight, reducing anxiety, and minimizing depression that is found in “It Has Nothing To Do With Age”. Remember to embrace your optimism and how you think about it.


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