Final Brain in the News of 2018


Photo from the December issue of Brain in the News. Image: Shutterstock

If you’re a subscribed reader of Brain in the News, you should have the final issue of the year in your mailbox by now (if you’re a loyal reader from outside of North America, please allow a couple extra days for delivery).

This year Brain in the News underwent a few changes, while maintaining the foundation of the publication as a trustworthy collection of news articles about the brain. We hope you enjoy the new layout as much as we do. It features a new “Bits and Pieces” section made up of facts and figures about the brain, neuroscience throughout history, top-rated brainy books, and our “honorable mentions” of internet news stories, “Brain on the Web.” The paper also includes a new “Stay Healthy” section, which highlights different wellness tips each issue and offers guidance on small things we can all do to protect our brains.

Another feature we are especially excited about is a new neuroethics column, written by former deputy editorial page editor of The New York Times Phil Boffey. Boffey, who also served as editor of Science Times, will continue delivering his monthly columns on different topics that analyze ethical dilemmas around brain-related news. You can read his latest column on the opioids crisis on the Dana website.

To highlight a story featured in our December issue, the subject seems appropriate as many of us go into the new year with revitalized goals and resolutions.

The US Dept. of Health and Human Services issued updated recommendations of the federal government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to help people ages three and up improve their health. The article we featured by National Public Radio (NPR) sums up the new guidelines and its importance:

While it’s true that sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your health, the good news is that we can offset the damage by adding more physical activity into our days … With a few exceptions, the advice in the new guidelines is not so different from what we were told in the 2008 guidelines. But here’s the trouble: Only about 20 percent of Americans meet them.

This alarming lack of physical activity is not only detrimental to our health, it is linked to $117 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The NPR story continues with key takeaways from the new guidelines:

The new guidelines marshal a growing body of evidence that documents immediate benefits of exercise such as reduced anxiety, improved sleep and improved blood sugar control, and long-term benefits (of regular physical activity), including cognitive benefits, and significantly lower risks of heart disease and certain cancers.

So, how much physical activity do we need? On this point, the new guidelines haven’t changed: Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.

One way to think about this: Aim for at least 22 minutes of movement a day. You don’t necessarily need to go to the gym or take up jogging. Pick any activity that gets your heart rate up, including walking. In addition, the guidelines call for adults to do muscle-strengthening activity on two or more days a week.

The full story can be found on their website.

Brain in the News is the only Dana Foundation publication that cannot be found online. We try our best to serve as many members of the public as we can, including those who may not have access to computers or the internet, or those of you who just like a good page to turn. It is free, and subscribing is easy.

If you’re already a subscribed member, don’t forget to fill out our Reader Survey to help determine the future of this publication.

Thanks to all our readers for your enthusiasm about our publication and the brain!

– Seimi Rurup

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