Tag Archives: health

The New Normal

Another tremendously powerful post from Mackenzie Craven:

So here is a snapshot of my post-cancer life, my new normal. I’m back at work full time, squeezing my 40 hours in any way I can with at least 1 of the aforementioned appointments each day. I’m getting mapped for radiation today – once those daily appointments start, my calendar is going to fill up even more. My free time mainly consists of getting my stretching time in to improve the mobility in my arm, but I do try and work out when I can (now that I can). And other than that, I’m just… trying my best to remember how to enjoy life, and to remember what normal even is. It isn’t easy. Some days all I want is for people to acknowledge I’m still recovering from this whole nightmare and cut me some slack, yet other days I swear I will scream If I get another sympathetic face and a “how are you feeling?”  I don’t even want to THINK about cancer one moment… then suddenly it is the only thing on my mind. I’m laughing, I’m crying. I’m a survivor; I’m a victim. I’m fine! I’m not fine. I’m… a contradiction. Every day I put on my best normal face and fool the world around me that I’m doing as well as I’m leading on, yet every day I get frustrated that the world thinks I’m back to normal. I don’t have hair, eyelashes or full range of motion in my arms – but I also don’t have cancer. Baby steps.

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5 Reasons to Run

This post originally appeared on my previous blog, TheStarrList, on 1/12/13 and earned me an IGN Community Spotlight profile. Reblog comes courtesy of Ben Kuchera’s Four ways to become a happier gamer, and person, in 2015

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1. Boost Your Brain Power

Generally, we are all fans of music. Whether it’s dance, metal, hardcore, or pop, we can usually identify something upbeat or driving in our iTunes Library. While upbeat music is great for getting pumped up, short of studying chord progressions and lyrical meaning, there is little payoff to listening to the same set of repetitive tracks on every jog. For some, music may actually be the reason they dread running. Next time you’re out, try a podcast!

Similar to talk radio, there are tons of free and unique podcasts in the iTunes store. From cooking tips to comedy, tech talks and TED Talks, there is something for everyone. Subscribe to a few podcasts and load up your iPod. Have a smartphone? Download a podcast app for your iOS or Android device!

If podcasts aren’t your thing, try an audiobook. I once heard a story of a runner who would listen to suspense novels while training. Only while training would he allow himself to listen to the books and, assuming they were any good, this tactic kept him from wanting to stop running. It also conditioned him to crave running. During races, he allowed himself to indulge in a playlist of upbeat music. This helped change the pace and created a fresh experience.

Understandably, podcasts and audiobooks are certainly not as upbeat as music. However, unless your are sprinting for a time, a good jog requires endurance over speed, and an informative podcast or suspenseful audiobook will certainly keep you at your paces.

2. Fresh Air

While treadmills are great during extreme weather or the night, nothing comes close to an outdoor jog. As simple as it sounds, a bit of fresh air can do wonders for the soul. After a long workday or at the tail end of being bedridden, busy city streets or a refreshing view of distant mountains can provide for a cleansing of the mind and clear thoughts. Stepping away from your belongings for 20-60 minutes can be enough to remind you of what is really important in life, provide a little inspiration for that project you’re working on, or help sift out those feelings of anguish toward a troublesome co-worker.

As you run, breathe in and take a look around. Get out into the world to remind yourself that the world is much larger than your immediate surroundings. If you are lucky enough to cross paths with another jogger, remember to pass along the motivation with a friendly wave, thumbs-up, or high-five. Tell yourself that those drivers on their commute home are looking at you in envy, wishing they had your drive. Your efforts will certainly inspire others.

3. Game On!

When I began running, I was fairly overweight. Unbeknownst to me, my body did not behave the way it did in high-school. I was still expecting to be able to eat the same junk food and plop down in front of video games with no severe consequence to my body. I was sorely mistaken. I knew that I needed to do something to get back into shape. I had heard about Nike+ and decided to take a leap of faith. I invested $300+ (a lot to a college student) into running equipment, an iPod, and the Nike+ sensor. I began to play a new kind of video game.

We can all appreciate a good game. Most of us grew up playing board or video games because they provided competitive and, in most cases, friendly fun. For those that need a little extra push to head out on a jog, making a game of it can do the trick! Several companies are gamifying the workout experience and the Nike+ service is leading the way! Nike+ not only keeps records of run/walk history including miles run, calories burned, and average pace, it also includes cross-community challenges. See where you rank amongst your friends on the weekly leader-board, be the first to reach 100 miles in the office, or challenge your best friend to a calorie burn competition! As you run and compete, you will earn achievements and kind words from world-renowned athletes, pushing yourself to run a little farther next time or maybe try one extra jog per week. Gamifying the jogging experience is a great way to stay motivated and provide a new kind of gaming experience!

Nike+ is offered through GPS iOS and Android apps as well as a shoe sensor (and iPod dongle in needed) for specially designed Nike+ enabled shoes.

4. Solitude

Everyone needs a little “me” time. Similar to tip 2, solitude can help provide clarity and peace-of-mind. Leaving you to your own thoughts can allow you to sort out those items that have been filling you with anxiety or allow you to solve that problem that’s been gnawing at you for the past several days. For some, solitude can assist in inspiration or a moment of clarity. The ability to completely escape the needs of others and detach oneself from the rest of society undoubtedly allows us to sort out what is really important and a stimulating jog only enhances the experience.

5. Multitask

For those of you that have trouble carving out a chunk of your day to exercise because there is just simply “too much to do,” you likely crave productivity. The best part about jogging is that the four tips listed above can all be achieved on a single run.

Over the course of several years, I have realized that multitasking is my biggest motivation to run. As often as possible, I will set aside 1-2 hours to jog and blog. After turning on my Nike+ app, I quickly throw on a podcast. Be it John Gruber’s Apple-centric The Talk Show, obscure stories across America on This American Life, or staying up-to-date with the latest video game industry news with The Indoor Kids or IGN’s Game Scoop, these podcasts not only fill my interests but they provide me with ideas.

Throughout the course of a single outdoor jog, I am afforded the luxury of audible inspiration through podcasts and sightly inspiration through my environment. I am disconnected from social media, e-mail, and text messages and am able to focus on myself. If I am able to push myself a little farther and a little harder, I may beat the stats from my last run. By the end, I am usually able to churn out an idea or two for my blogs. Within 1-2 hours, I have satisfied my desire to be productive by gaming, thinking, mentally cleansing, and blogging… and exercise!

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‘Exercising With Nothing But An Xbox’

Stephie Grob Plante, writing for xoJane:

The free songs — including “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic and “#thatPower” by will.i.am ft. Justin Bieber — are not necessarily my jam(s), but it’s hard to complain about free. As I scroll through the song purchase options, I grumble at the glut of current(ish) tracks and dearth of classics. Swipe, swipe, swipe — WAIT: “Creep” by TLC for $1.99?! I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but…sold.

With one solid tune and a wealth of moves like “Niece,” “Rejectin,” and “Pros and Cons,” my childhood aspiration of becoming an In Living Color Fly Girl — a very real, very unattainable dream — feels within reach, at least from the confines of my 12×16 living room.

Hilarious read, surprising results.

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Rose Gold Lining

Mackenzie Craven, Rose Gold Lining:

Let’s rewind. I’m 26 years old. Freshly married. And healthy! That young, dumb kind of healthy that convinces you it’s okay to only see the doctor when you need a prescription filled. You drink green smoothies and run half marathons, therefore you’re untouchable – right? Life has been good in this blissful, newlywed, dumb-healthy bubble – perfect, even. Filled with morning coffee and walks to the farmers market hand-in-hand with my husband, Kenny. Bike rides to the breweries, hikes with our dog Hugo. I ate the chia seeds and I wore out my running shoes, so I was completely blindsided by my diagnosis. I have breast cancer?

Brilliant, brave, and honest. One of the best pieces I’ve ever read. Take a moment to read and appreciate this woman’s work. #KenzieKicksCancer

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Game Less Than One Hour Per Day

Pediatrics:

Low levels (3 hours daily) of game engagement was linked to key indicators of psychosocial adjustment. Low engagement was associated with higher life satisfaction and prosocial behavior and lower externalizing and internalizing problems, whereas the opposite was found for high levels of play. No effects were observed for moderate play levels when compared with non-players.

It took me a second to wrap head around this. I wish the clearly defined moderate play. My interpretation:

– Less than 1 hour of play (low): Positive effects

– 0 (non-players) or 1-3 hours of play (moderate): No change

– More than 3 hours of play (high): Negative effects

Update: The BBC offers more clarity.

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Health tech Trojan horse

Holly Green writing for Polygon:

Integrating new technology into our daily lives relies upon accessibility, affordability and ease of use. Where motion control is concerned, video games are the perfect Trojan horse.

A great piece on the health benefits of motion control.

I’ve failed to look at video game motion controls as a power player in the physical therapy industry. I don’t doubt that motion controls will fade away from the consumer video game market. However, it is worth noting that these tools do exist and have been invested in while, at the same time, lifestyle betterment (health, environment, social, etc.) has become a huge focus in the tech landscape. I don’t think this is the end of Kinect.

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Game Play Has No Negative Impact on Kids, UK Study Finds

Game Play Has No Negative Impact on Kids, UK Study Finds
Games and Learning

Less TV. More games!

Headed into the study, the authors wanted to study both television and video games, arguing that connections with attention disorders, anger and other problems might be connected to both. Still, researchers wondered if “games may have more powerful effects due to active user engagement, identification with characters and repeated rehearsal and reinforcement.”

KEY FINDINGS

– Exposure to video games had no effect on behavior, attention or emotional issues.

-Watching 3 or more hours of television at age 5 did lead to a small increase in behavioral problems in youngsters between 5 and 7.

– Neither television nor video games lead to attentional or emotional problems.

– There was no difference between boys and girls in the survey results.

In my own experience, the participatory nature of video games adds stress, problem solving, and exploratory functions that can enhance one’s imagination. Speaking for myself (and hopefully many others), I feel that this medium has helped flesh-out ones creative passions be it storytelling, pattern assessment, communication, and/or technical know-how. ‘

As I am currently writing a book, I have found it easiest to open up a world by envisioning how I would explore a video game. I am able to more effectively envision the world through a first or third person view by relying on the mechanics that have been built into some of my favorite video games. The ability to attach myself to video game characters has had a profound impact on my writing abilities. My book may or may not be very good but the ease of writing it has been nurtured by a lifetime of gaming.

How have you benefitted from gaming?

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Study: Playing video games can increase brain size

Study: Playing video games can increase brain size
Polygon

Two study’s on the positive size effects of game in one day?!

“…this, the researchers asked 23 adults with an average age of 24 to play Super Mario 64 for at least half an hour a day, every day for two months. Compared to a control group of individuals who did not play any games during the study, the gamers evinced “significant gray matter increase” in three areas of the brain: the right hippocampal formation, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and bilateral cerebellum.”

– Polygon

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5 Studies That Prove Video Games Are Good For You


BuzzFeedPop

So that’s why I don’t need glasses…

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How a video game could help children with food allergies

How a video game could help children with food allergies
Polygon

Mmmmmm… educational gaming for health… yum 🙂

Elizabeth McQuaid, a psychologist at Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, is overseeing the trial launch of a video game designed to help children with food allergies.

McQuaid teamed up with developer Virtually Better to test a web-based game for children 8-12. Researchers hope the software, which puts players in scenes intended to help them learn more about food allergies, symptoms and reaction management, will reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

– Polygon

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