Today’s Headlines: Ways Your Job Can Increase Your Brain Function, Which Bad Habits May Lead to Premature Death, and Why the Air You Breathe Could Be Making You Fat

Continuing to challenge yourself and excel at work may have more benefits than just a promotion. Several new studies have shown the relationship between certain job skills and an increase in the brain’s functioning to help make you smarter. Some of their findings included, “Training adults in blocking out distractions, focusing on tasks and interpreting facts leads them to perform better on tests of abstract reasoning and controlling one’s attention…doing exercises in translating code, spotting patterns of letters or lines, and visualizing the movement of three-dimensional objects in space was linked to improved scores on tests of those skills three years later…” The only way to ensure your job is enhancing your cognitive functioning is to continue to work your brain and challenge it with new tasks. (WSJ)

Smoking, being lazy, and not enough sleep, are some of the many bad health habits that can impact your lifespan. While it is known that bad habits can affect your health, a new study has shown that it may be more about how many bad activities you engage in simultaneously that determine risk of shortened life. “…the small number of people for whom smoking was their only vice were 90% more likely to die during the course of the study than were people with practiced clean living…But for those who combined heavy drinking with smoking, the risk of premature death was nearly tripled. And when lack of sleep was added to the mix, the odds of an early death were nearly five times greater — even though lack of sleep by itself had only a slight effect on mortality.” The important takeaway from this research was that healthy habits determine longevity and should be practiced regularly. (LA Times)

The air you breathe in may be the reason for your weight gain. A new study looked at urban versus rural environments to try and determine other factors of weight gain when diet and exercise were controlled. “Two people can eat the same foods, and do the same exercise, but over the course of a few years, one may put on more weight and develop a faulty metabolism – thanks to the atmosphere around their home…Traffic fumes and cigarette smoke are the chief concerns, with their tiny, irritating particles that trigger widespread inflammation and disrupt the body’s ability to burn energy.” The researchers emphasized that regardless of the findings, this is not the only answer for why someone may gain weight and emphasized that unhealthy habits should not be ruled out. While the environment may affect weight gain on a small scale it, “shouldn’t be used as an excuse for obesity by itself…” (BBC)