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Can Waffles Make You Stupid?

Welcome to The 5-Minute Recharge with one quote, three ideas, and a 5-minute recharge challenge to supercharge your wellness.


One thing we always say is, “Leave it on the mat.” And what that means is you just take everything you have and give it all in that one moment. ― Navarro College cheer team coach Monica Aldama (featured in the Netflix documentary series Cheer) shares the advice that has guided her toward 14 national championships


#1 WHAT'S THE BEST EXERCISE INTENSITY FOR YOUR BRAIN? Exercise is a miracle drug, so it makes sense that different intensities of exercise have different effects on the brain. Such is the finding of a new study in which moderate and high intensity exercisers were given brain scans that revealed moderate-intensity exercise affects cognitive processing and attention, whereas high-intensity exercise lights up parts of the brain associated with emotion processing. We know from previous research out of Australia that high-intensity exercise releases the stress hormone cortisol that can block some of the positive brain effects of exercise, but moderate-intensity exercise doesn’t release cortisol. Therefore, mixing an exercise cocktail of high and moderate intensity would seem to both allow stress hormones to return to normal and give us the full spectrum of intellectual and emotional benefits of exercise.

“We found a significant increase in positive affect after both exercise intensities.” ― Researcher Angela Schmitt et al. (In other words, exercise, regardless of intensity, makes you happy.)

Photo by Yuvraj Sachdeva on Unsplash

#2 CAN WAFFLES MAKE YOU STUPID? Not to pick on the waffle, that beloved centrepiece of the Sunday brunch, but the answer, according to new research, appears to be yes. In as little as one week, students on a Western-style high-fat high-sugar diet scored lower on memory tests and developed a taste for overeating. The reason seems to reside in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory, including food memories, that help guide our decisions. Too much fat and sugar makes the hippocampus less efficient and prone to poor eating decisions, setting off a cycle of increasing hippocampal impairment and more poor decisions. What can you do to be kind to your hippocampus—other than avoid a high-fat high-sugar diet? Exercise.

“Demonstrating that processed foods can lead to subtle cognitive impairments that affect appetite and promote overeating in otherwise healthy people should be a worrying finding to everyone.”― Richard Stevenson, Professor of Psychology Macquarie University, Sydney

#3 FRIENDS OF THE SAME MIND If a scientist with an MRI machine measured your brain activity and those of your closest friends while you watched video clips on a variety of topics, it’s likely that your brain patterns would be similar. “Our results suggest that friends process the world in exceptionally similar ways,” said lead Dartmouth researcher Dr. Caroline Parkinson who studied 279 graduate students and found similarities in emotional response, attention and reasoning among friends. It's unclear whether we're attracted to people with similar brain patterns or if our brain patterns naturally merge with our friends over time. But research indicates that close friends really are of the same (or similar) mind.

“Friends are literally seeing and hearing the world more similarly than people who are friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends.”– Dartmouth researcher Dr. Thalia Wheatley


The Fast Five

1. Why you should use technology like the Amish.

2. The agony of garbage language.

3. The squiggly path to success.

4. Why do you wake up at 3 a.m.?

5. Embrace boredom.


“Learning, getting to those insights and feeling smarter about a subject are immensely rewarding.”– Scott Young

In both The 5-Minute Recharge and Acts of Friendship, we encourage readers to get fired up about learning. Nothing says you’re fully engaged with life like a thirst for knowledge. BBC WorkLife reports that “micro-credentials” are a great way to supplement a formal education and may one day replace the university degree. Scott Young, who challenged himself to get the best of a 4-year MIT education without attending MIT, is an example of this innovative approach to learning.What do you want to learn more about? What piques your curiosity or would make your life easier if you knew more about it?

Take just five minutes and write down as many possible micro-credential topics as come to mind.

We're living in the golden age of learning. Never before in history has it been so easy to learn so much in so little time. Take one of your topics and feed it to your favourite search engine. Now take the first step toward a micro-credential.

“I’ll admit, I may be a bit crazy, or arrogant, for wanting to complete a 4-year program in only 12 months. However, my real motivation is to show people that learning faster is possible and that it can be more fun at the same time.” ― Scott Young

Wishing you many fun and fast learning experiences in the week ahead,

Lynne & Addie

If you have a friend who could use a positive charge, please share our newsletter...consider it an Act of Friendship!

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