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The Real Secret of Youth Is Complexity - Issue 36: Aging - Nautilus

The meaning of "complexity"

A complex process involves various components interacting across multiple scales in time and space. To lift a foot requires electrical, chemical, and mechanical parts to coordinate across molecular, cellular, organ, and systemic levels.

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The Real Secret of Youth Is Complexity - Issue 36: Aging - Nautilus

The Real Secret of Youth Is Complexity - Issue 36: Aging - Nautilus

http://nautil.us/issue/36/aging/the-real-secret-of-youth-is-complexity

nautil.us

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Key Ideas

Simplicity is a sign

The process of simplification can be a sign of aging.

Our youthful health depends on complexity. Bones get strength from detailed scaffolds and connective tissue. Even the heartbeat relies on elaborate networks and controls. As our bodies age, these structures lose complexity, making them less resilient and eventually leading to frailty and disease.

The meaning of "complexity"

A complex process involves various components interacting across multiple scales in time and space. To lift a foot requires electrical, chemical, and mechanical parts to coordinate across molecular, cellular, organ, and systemic levels.

Complexity loss

A large and growing body of research suggests that biological complexity breaks down with aging.
Various tissues and organs and their communication pathways gradually diminish and lead to disease or disability.

Slowing complexity loss

We may be able to slow, or even reverse, some of the complexity loss due to aging. Adding complexity to your daily routine can have far-reaching effects.

  • Aerobic exercise and resistance training can increase heart rate complexity.
  • Tai Chi, combined with physical movement, breathing techniques, and meditation, affects postural control.
  • An extensive and diverse social network promotes better health and wellbeing.
  • Learning new skills or solving mental puzzles can improve cognitive function.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Benefits Of Tai Chi
  • Improved lower and upper-body strength. Practiced regularly, it’s comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.
  • Boosts flexibility and strength of upper and lower-...
Getting Started With Tai Chi
  • Find a tai chi branch that matches your needs. 
  • Check with your doctor before starting if you have a physical limitations or take medications that affect your balance.
  • Watch and take a class
  • If you'd rather learn at home, you can get tai chi books or videos.
  • Talk to the instructor. Experienced teachers who accommodate individual peculiarities are ideal.
  • Dress comfortably with nonrestrictive loose-fitting clothes.
  • You can practice barefoot or in lightweight and flexible shoes.
  • Most tai chi programs last at least 12 weeks, with instruction once or twice a week and practice at home. By then, you should know if you enjoy tai chi.
Types Of Tai Chi

There are different styles of tai chi, each has a unique set of methods and principles, lineage, and date of origin. Some of these forms of tai chi lean towards health, while others stres...

Tai Chi Benefits
  • Fall reduction: tai chi helps to prevent trips and falls in the elderly. It also reduced the fear of falling among them and increased balance and posture.
  • Chronic pain: tai chi significantly impacts the chronic pain experienced with specific conditions, such as osteoarthritis of the knee and fibromyalgia. There is also evidence it decreases joint stiffness.
  • Chronic heart failure: tai chi was shown to improve maximum oxygen capacity in people who had heart attacks. And, although the evidence is inconclusive, tai chi seems to benefit areas of cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Mental health and cognitive function: There is strong evidence showing beneficial effects on cognitive function. And, although scientific evidence is inconclusive, tai chi is associated with mindfulness and psychological well-being.
Tai Chi

Is a martial art safe for most people of all ages, as it does not put much stress on the muscles and joints. It combines gentle physical exercise and stretching with mindfulness.

Research indicates that tai chi may improve balance control, fitness, and flexibility while reducing pain and the symptoms of anxiety and depression in some cases.

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Tai Chi

Is a mind-body practice that involves a series of slow, flowing exercises that combine movement, meditation, and rhythmic breathing. Initially developed as a martial art, it's now commonly p...

Research Based Claims On The Benefits Of Tai Chi

"excellent evidence" that tai chi appears to helpful for Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis, preventing falls, improving cognitive function in older adults, and rehabilitation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Improves cognitive functioning, particularly in older adults.

Prevents falls in older adults and Parkinson’s and stroke sufferers by improving their balance.

Ameliorates back pain and cancer-related fatigue.

Helps to rehabilitate the heart of people with chronic heart failure.

Safety And Side Effects Of Tai Chi

It is possible to learn tai chi by yourself through books audio and video but only a teacher would be able to guarantee you are doing the movements correctly and safely.

Done correctly, tai chi seems safe for most healthy people, but it should not be used as a substitute for standard care in the treatment of chronic health conditions. Also, if you have a health condition such as arthritis, it's important to consult your doctor before starting tai chi to see if it's appropriate for you.

10 Benefits Of Tai Chi According To Research
  1. Reduces mortality for those who self-reported engaging in the practice 5-6 hours per week.
  2. Improves muscle strength, balance and flexibility. Evidence is inconclusiv...
Breathing exercises

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation.

However, studies suggest that breathing exercises alone, derived from...

Deep, controlled breathing

It involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

It has been linked to improved cognitive performance, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

Breathing and yoga
Belief in the benefits of controlled breathing goes back centuries.

Central to ancient Hindu philosophy was prana, described as vital “airs” or “energies” flowing through the body. Stemming from that belief, yoga was built on pranayama or breath retention. 

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Chaos Theory
Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory is a mathematical toolkit that allows us to extract ordered structures from chaos. The theory can reveal the intricate workings of such diverse natural systems as the beating of the hu...

Tiny variations vastly affect the outcome

Order on a small scale can produce chaos on a larger scale. In systems that behave without chaotic effects, small differences could eventually increase in size until they produce large effects - the hallmark of a chaotic system.

Meteorologist Edward Lorenz made this profound discovery when he attempted to predict the weather more accurately using a mathematical model. He found that rounding numbers off to three decimal places significantly changed the course of his weather predictions. Lorenz famously illustrated this effect with the analogy of a butterfly flapping its wings, thereby causing a hurricane formation elsewhere.

Understanding the butterfly effect

A good way to see the butterfly effect is with a game of billiards. No matter how consistent you are with the first shot, the smallest of differences in the speed and angle with which you strike the white ball will cause the balls to scatter in different directions every time.

What at first appears to be random behavior is completely deterministic. It only seems random because changes that are hardly noticeable are making all the difference.

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Network Effects

Network effects are the unseen forces that are guiding our destiny and exerting a powerful intervention on our lives, creating energy that escorts us down a path that is not always fully our intent...

Zipf's Law

Zipf's law is a mathematical probability that states that in a given set, the most frequently used data value (or word) is used twice as often as the next most common value. This is true in various statistical sets like income distribution in companies, internet traffic, phone calls received, and language.

One of the implications of this law is there are unconscious network forces and mathematical patterns governing our lives, with human beings just being nodes exchanging information.

Dinner Party Mathematics

When six to eight people are conversing at a dinner party, it is easy to focus on one conversation, but if the number is higher (say 15), then two-way conversations are more likely.

When groups get larger, the change is exponential, not linear, affecting one's social experience.

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Vitamins and free radicals

In the 90s, vitamins were touted as treatments for cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, and even cancer. Sales in multivitamins and other dietary supplements boomed.

But over...

Added antioxidants

In the 1970s and into the 80s, research was done where mice were given a variety of supplementary antioxidants in their diet or via an injection straight into the bloodstream.

The result showed that an excess of antioxidants didn't stop the onset of disease or extended lifespan.

Antioxidant supplementation
  • In 1994, one trial followed the lives of 29,133 Finish people in their 50s who all smoked. Some were given beta-carotene supplements. The group that supplemented with Beta-carotene had a 16% increase in lung cancer.
  • Another study shows a breast cancer increase of 20% for postmenopausal women who supplemented with folic acid.
  • One study with 100 heavy smokers had a 28% increase in lung cancer after just four years of beta-carotene and vitamin A supplementation.

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Remember what’s essential about holidays
Do you care deeply about your religion? Do you care most about spending time with your loved ones? Maybe certain traditions matter tremendously to you. Maybe you love the feeling of giving (of which, ...
Start to let go of the non-essential
Talk to others about letting go of the traditions you don’t like. Yes, letting go can feel painful at times, but think of the downsides of the things you’re letting go. Think of the simplicity you’re creating. And feel the relief of relaxing around letting go.
Let’s let go of the myth that you have to spend to give:
  • Gift your family with some small experiences, such as caroling, baking, watching It’s a Wonderful Life;
  • Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter.
  • Make meaningful gifts. A video of memories. A scrapbook.
  • Bake gifts.
  • Have an experience instead of giving material goods: do something fun together, go to the beach or a lake.
  • Give the gift of your expertise. Are you good at fixing cars? Teaching music? Teaching cooking? Magic tricks? Help or teach someone something you’re good at.