In the News: Brain-Stimulating Activities May Help Dementia Patients, Altitude Linked to Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome, Camping May Improve Sleep Quality

I don’t just like puzzles, I lobe them. There may be a link between brain-stimulating activities and dementia. In many ways, the brain is like a muscle that needs regular exercise. A recent study investigated the association between brain workouts and dementia. The scientists followed nearly 2,000 healthy seniors over four years and found that those participating in brain-stimulating activities had a significant decrease in their risk of developing cognitive impairment – even in patients with a genetic predisposition to cognitive decline. Some of the activities include computer use, social activities, and playing games. Check out some of Dr. Oz’s favorite brain boosting games here. (MEDNEWS)

The hills are alive… with the sound of heart health. Altitude might have an impact on heart disease risk. A recent study found that living at a higher altitude is linked to a lower risk of getting metabolic syndrome – the combination of increased blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol, and waist size. Together, these factors greatly increase the risk of heart disease. The authors of the study recognize that living or exercising in low oxygen environments like those at high altitudes seems to be very helpful for heart and lung health, weight loss, and even insulin sensitivity. The good news is that you don’t need to live in the mountains just to decrease your risk of getting metabolic syndrome. Take this quiz to find out if you’re at risk for metabolic syndrome. (EUREKA)

The sleep I got on that camping trip was in-tents! Camping trip might help you sleep. In a recent study, scientists tested the melatonin of people who went camping and compared it to people who stayed at home. Those who spent time in the great outdoors had a melatonin boost one and a half times earlier than those who stayed home. According to the authors, this means the campers’ biological clocks reset to better match the sun and that may have greatly improved the sleep quality. If you can’t get away for a weekend camping trip, don’t worry. Just try to increase the amount of natural light you’re exposed to during the day and decrease the artificial light from smartphones and tablets at night. Check out Dr. Oz’s favorite tips for better sleep here. (NPR)