(Frankly, I’m not sure about any of this. Maybe there would be more validity if I had taken it when I was middle-aged and had the energy to rebound and peak. As a seenager I seem to be in the slowdown phase, perpetually.)
Let me explain . . .
What’s the best time to Think?
Daniel Pink* (born in 1964 and he’s NOT a seenager) says our ability to think changes throughout the day, consequently we function better, smarter and even more creative at various times. Research suggests these effects can be as large as 20%.
Generally, we have a peak, a slowdown and a rebound during the day.
- Most people are at their peak function during the late morning, till about noon. We think and focus the best then. We don’t get distracted as easily.
- Early to mid afternoon we are less alert and focused-this is the time for “busy work”.
- In the late afternoon to early evening we rebound. We are more easily distracted though, which turns out to be good for creativity – problem solving and creative thinking. Our mood tends to be up and we are alert. Note that night owls have this time in the morning.
One in 5 people is a night owl, then the order is reversed–rebound, slowdown, peak.
(Frankly, I’m not sure about any of this. I’m a night owl person. My morning rebound lasts until about 3 pm, followed by a slowdown until 11 pm when I go to bed. My peak performance occurs undoubtedly while I’m sleeping.)
What’s the best time to Exercise?
When is best time to exercise? Depends on your goals-here is Pink’s guide:
- Morning exercise is best for losing weight –since blood sugar is low before we eat, we will burn fat – even 20% more fat than later exercise
- Cardio in morning will boost your mood, and doing this in the morning lets you enjoy the boost longer
- It is easier to have a routine in the morning that later in the day.
- Late afternoon exercise is best for avoiding injury, since your muscles are warmed up
- You also perform your best in the afternoon ( one study by Elise Facer-Childs and Ronald Brandstaetter at U. Of Birmingham in 2015 showed a 26% difference. Lung function is highest and strength peaks at this time, reaction time is quick and eye hand coordination is at its best. This time of day is when athletic records tend to be set-late afternoon to early evening. You tend to enjoy your workout more at this time.
(Frankly, I’m not sure about any of this. I’m a night owl person. Since my morning rebound lasts until about 3 pm, followed by a slowdown until 11 pm when I go to bed. I should be exercising while I’m sleeping which will ensure I enjoy it more.)
How to stay happy and productive
Take short breaks-this helps keep you able to focus, especially when you move during the breaks. Taking a 5 minute walk every hour will increase your energy, focus and mood, lessening afternoon fatigue. It’s better than one 30 min. walk. Researchers at Stanford found motivation, concentration and creativity went up with short walking breaks.
(Frankly, I’m not sure about any of this. Peggy told me this is how we evolved – pick some food from a plant, walk a bit, pick more food . . . I tried this and gained 10 pounds which depressed me and now I’m going to bed to sleep at 3 pm when my slowdown starts.)
Pink says social breaks are the best as they increase mood and decrease stress. The best breaks may be ones in nature, people feel happier and more rested.
(Frankly, I’m not sure about any of this. I could take a social break but I don’t think my husband would appreciate my asking anyone else to bed)
Peggy made Mood Tracker charts to help me pinpoint my daily energy swings.
Click HERE to get a PDF and print your own chart and instructions.
Sample Mood Chart & Tracker
Wall Street Journal article Feb. 16, 2018,
*“How to be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing” by Daniel H. Pink
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I hate to say “I told you so” but I told you so – Walking is good for you. It’s my preferred form of exercise. Peggy and judy have found lots of studies on the benefits of walking. They asked me to promote it since I’m an expert walker:
Walking (preferably with me)
Gives you a creative lift. A study at Stanford showed a 60% increase in creative output. Researches called the kind of creativity “divergent thinking”, thinking out of the box, looking at many different possibilities. Walking lets out minds wander and this puts us in a good mental state for generating new ideas. (My Human Judy is already a “divergent thinker” . . . to a fault. Her brain hasn’t ever been able to walk a straight line)
Boosts your mood. In one study scientists saw increased energy, good mood, attentiveness and confidence with 12 minutes of walking compared to 12 minutes of sitting. (I like my human to be attentive and obedient)
Walking in nature also reduced repetitive negative thoughts (ruminating).
Improves memory. (You’ll remember that walking helps you)
Just 10 minutes of walking may relieve anxiety and improve mood as well as a workout lasting 45 minutes. (I prefer long walks but I’m all for anything that gets my human in a better mood)
If it’s raining or snowing or blowing you can use a treadmill for a walking workout.
Walking on a treadmill gives you the most benefit if you vary the speed and incline so that your heart rate is raised and lowered. Sort of like walking up and down hills, going fast some times, slow some times. Setting a high incline makes you use more energy to walk, and you can get a good cardiovascular workout without as much strain on your knees (For those of us who have 4 knees that’s important)
Interval training is a way to get the most from a workout. So whether you are outside on a trail or inside on a treadmill here’s how to do intervals. Start with a warm up warm up 5 minutes, then do an incline or speed for 3 minutes a few minutes, then back to level then 1 minute level at a walk, and repeat for about 20 minutes total. (I do interval training with Judy – I run, stop, raise my leg, run some more, stop, sniff, saunter, stop, raise my leg, run, stop, sniff, trot . . .)
Another protocol I often follow, and you can too, is to go as hard as I can for 1 minute, then sniff and walk until I recover, then go again.
Finding your target zone
My target zone is most often a tree or a post. For humans it may be different and here’s how you do it:
Find an online calculator for your target heart rate zone, or use this:
For vigorous exercise, use 70 to 85 percent of your heart rate reserve or HHR
Here is Mayo Clinics formula:
- “Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.
- Calculate your resting heart rate by counting your heart beats per minute when you are at rest, such as first thing in the morning. (For the average adult It’s somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute.)
- Calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR) – subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
- Multiply your HRR by 0.7 (70 percent). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
- Multiply your HRR by 0.85 (85 percent). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
- These two numbers are your training zone heart rate for vigorous intensity exercise. Your heart rate during exercise should be between these two numbers.”
For example, I’m 6 dogs years old.
Multiply that by 0.7, then add my resting heart rate,
Multiply my heart rate reserve (HHR) by 85% so 82×0.85=69.7 then add resting heart rate so 69.7+65=134.7 which is the high end of my target heart rate or training zone . . .
(I’ve computed my target zone to be 6 trees a minute.)
Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDWE
Canine Dog Walking Expert
You’re feeling depressed. What have you been eating?
Psychiatrists and therapists don’t often ask this question. But a growing body of research over the past decade shows that a healthy diet—high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and unprocessed lean red meat—can prevent depression. And an unhealthy diet—high in processed and refined foods—increases the risk for the disease in everyone, including children and teens.
The findings are spurring the rise of a new field: nutritional psychiatry.
“Now recent studies show that a healthy diet may not only prevent depression, but could effectively treat it once it’s started.
“Researchers, led by epidemiologist Felice Jacka of Australia’s Deakin University, looked at whether improving the diets of people with major depression would help improve their mood. They chose 67 people with depression for the study, some of whom were already being treated with antidepressants, some with psychotherapy, and some with both. Half of these people were given nutritional counseling from a dietitian, who helped them eat healthier. Half were given one-on-one social support—they were paired with someone to chat or play cards with—which is known to help people with depression.”
“After 12 weeks, the people who improved their diets showed significantly happier moods than those who received social support. And the people who improved their diets the most improved the most. (The study was published in January 2017 in BMC Medicine).”
“A second, larger study drew similar conclusions and showed that the boost in mood lasted six months. It was led by researchers at the University of South Australia and published in December 2017 in Nutritional Neuroscience.”
“And later this month in Los Angeles at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago will present results from their research that shows that elderly adults who eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains are less likely to develop depression over time.”
Scientific evidence aside . . .
My dad lived to 93 . . . it might be prudent to follow his dietary regime.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, The Food That Helps Battle Depression by Elizabeth Bernstein
No act of kindness,
no matter how small,
is ever wasted.
Yes, you can “fake out” your own brain.
Smiling fools your brain into thinking you are happy, then this creates actual happiness. A smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin*.
Now here’s the fake-out: Our brain isn’t good at telling the difference between a smile because you are happy and a fake smile.
But wait . . . there’s more
“A study performed by a group at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who could not frown due to botox injections were happier on average than those who could frown.”
“And there are plenty more studies out there: Researchers at the University of Kansas published findings that smiling helps reduce the body’s response to stress and lower heart rate in tense situations; another study linked smiling to lower blood pressure, while yet another suggests that smiling leads to longevity.”
Smiling enhances our Immune system
“More than happiness is at stake. Dr. Murray Grossan, an ENT-otolaryngologist looks at the study of how the brain is connected to the immune system. He asserts that it has been found “over and over again” that depression weakens your immune system, while happiness boosts your immune system.”
“What’s crazy is that just the physical act of smiling can make a difference in building your immunity,” says Dr. Grossan. “When you smile, the brain sees the muscle [activity] and assumes that humor is happening.”
Smiles are contagious
“This is because we have mirror neurons that fire when we see action,” says Dr. Eva Ritzo, As its name suggests, mirror neurons enable us to copy or reflect the behavior we observe in others and have been linked to the capacity for empathy.”
“Try smiling into the mirror. Dr. Ritzo recommends smiling at yourself in the mirror, an act she says not only triggers our mirror neurons, but can also help us calm down and re-center if we’re feeling low or anxious.”
So SMILE and pass on a dose of neurochemical happy
*Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression. Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression.