Last updated on 21st January 2024
I read a fair amount of research and thought some people might be interested in recent studies that I've found helpful. I plan to write a brief approximately 1,200 word (5 minute read) newsletter/blog post pretty much every week, highlighting helpful material that has emerged in the previous couple of months. I'll rotate through six topic areas ... Lifestyle, Positive Psychology, Relationships, Ageing, Psychedelics, and Meditation. I also plan to write occasional posts where I go into more detail about particular related subject areas.
There are many excellent health-focused podcasts (with linked material) on the internet. For example, there is Michael Mosley's Just One Thing, the Huberman Lab podcasts, Rangan Chatterjee's Feel Better, Live More and Zoe's Science & Nutrition. They typically involve interviews with a variety of experts. The podcasts tend to be quite time-consuming to listen to, for example from maybe fifteen minutes to over two hours. And they are usually topic-based, discussing interesting subject areas, sometimes in some depth. When they refer to research, it's about scientific studies ranging back over a number of years.
This is often very worthwhile, however this 5 minute 'Health' read is different in several ways. 1.) It's about the most recent cutting edge research published in the previous few weeks. 2.) It focuses on six topic areas that can be at the heart of Health & Wellbeing. They are Lifestyle (Exercise, Sleep, Food), Positive Psychology (Meaning, Happiness, Flourishing), Relationships (Connection, Intimacy, Friendship), Ageing (Health, Wisdom, Longevity), Meditation (Mindfulness, Compassion, Imagery) and Psychedelics (Wellness, Mysticism, Therapy). Yes I know that including Psychedelics as a topic area is stretching the Health envelope a bit, but see this post to explain its inclusion a bit more. 3.) The 5 minute 'Health' read is quick to get through. Marc Braebart's 2019 meta-analysis of reading rate research gives 250 works per minute as a good average estimate. This equates to about 1,200 words in five minutes.
And three further reasons why this 5 minute 'Health' read is a bit different are that 4.) It's 'clean' (ad & sponsor free!). 5.) It contains easily clickable hyperlinks to any research that's discussed, and 6.) My professional/personal background is particularly helpful when it comes to identifying which emerging research studies in the six areas are likely to be especially interesting and important. I am trained as a medical doctor and in the 1980's I was on the working party that set up the British Holistic Medical Association with its major focus on Lifestyle's central importance for health. Before changing to studying medicine, I read philosophy at university and I've long been fascinated by what's involved in human beings leading really deep, precious, worthwhile lives. This question is at the heart of Positive Psychology, and as this emerged as a major area of scientific inquiry, I reported on a variety of international Positive Psychology conferences and taught courses on, for example, How to live well: a shared exploration. As for Relationships as a topic area, here's an in-depth exploration of social networks I've put together and in this website's Good Knowledge menu see a cluster of other relationship-related resources. I've long been interested in Ageing Well and now at 73, observing myself & my friends, this interest has only increased. As for Psychedelics, some years ago I founded the Psychedelic Health Professionals Network which provides many knowledge-based and experiential learning opportunities including a free weekly recent research newsletter that I help to produce. And as for Meditation, the last of the six covered subject areas, I have a regular personal meditation practice that dates back to 1970 and, over many years, have taught a series of different meditation/compassion/relaxation forms. I think it's likely that all of this background experience will help me select particularly relevant research.
And what journals am I tracking? Well currently, from December 23, for Lifestyle I'm following the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, Sports Medicine, Frontiers in Sports & Active Living, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Sleep, Sleep Medicine, Sleep Medicine Reviews, Addiction, International Journal of Drug Policy, Journal of Nutrition, Nutrients and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For Wellbeing I keep an eye on International Journal of Wellbeing, Journal of Happiness Studies and Journal of Positive Psychology. Relationship-linked journals I follow are Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Journal of Sexual Medicine, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Personality and Individual Difference, Personal Relationships and Social Psychological and Personality Science. The Ageing journals are Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, Journal of Gerontology, Psychological Sciences and Omega - Journal of Death & Dying. For Psychedelics I tend to track 'newsletters' rather than individual journals as research paper locations are so scattered. So I take links from Blossom, Psychedelic Alpha, Tricycle Day, Stay Tuned and The Microdose.
... more to follow ...