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article topics   Related: Jogging adds five years to life

As a bonus these types of tasks improve hand-eye coordination and agility.

The research team enrolled 24 young adults in the study who were given brain scans before the testing commenced.

Half the participants were then given training sessions in how to juggle and instructed to practice for at least 30 minutes a day.

At the end of six weeks of training a second set of brain scans were taken which clearly showed an increase in white matter in those people who had practised juggling daily.

While previous studies have suggested that different mental activities and practices can change and grow 'grey matter' — which is the part of the brain involved in processing comprehending and retrieving information — this is one of the first studies to show an effect on the brain's white matter which controls our ability to see and react to things.

Therefore this study has potential significance for the treatment of diseases like multiple sclerosis Parkinson's and Alzheimer's where neural pathways and brain 'cabling' are damaged.

If juggling doesn't appeal try any sport that requires your complete attention — table tennis skipping and hula hooping are three more good (and fun) ones.

Even if you can't keep those balls in the air or that hoop around your waist remember that the important outcome of this study was that it was the amount of time spent practising not the level of skill achieved that had the brain-boosting benefit.

Related: Autism linked to obesity in mothers

This study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Video: The battle with tourettes

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Juggling might seem like something best left to professional clowns but a new study has found it can increase the size of your brain.

Research conducted by the Department of Clinical Neurology at Oxford University found activities that test the mind and body at the same time seem to increase the brain's 'white matter' — the brain's neural connections — by as much as five percent.

Related: Jogging adds five years to life

As a bonus these types of tasks improve hand-eye coordination and agility.

The research team enrolled 24 young adults in the study who were given brain scans before the testing commenced.

Half the participants were then given training sessions in how to juggle and instructed to practice for at least 30 minutes a day.

At the end of six weeks of training a second set of brain scans were taken which clearly showed an increase in white matter in those people who had practised juggling daily.

While previous studies have suggested that different mental activities and practices can change and grow 'grey matter' — which is the part of the brain involved in processing comprehending and retrieving information — this is one of the first studies to show an effect on the brain's white matter which controls our ability to see and react to things.

Therefore this study has potential significance for the treatment of diseases like multiple sclerosis Parkinson's and Alzheimer's where neural pathways and brain 'cabling' are damaged.

If juggling doesn't appeal try any sport that requires your complete attention — table tennis skipping and hula hooping are three more good (and fun) ones.

Even if you can't keep those balls in the air or that hoop around your waist remember that the important outcome of this study was that it was the amount of time spent practising not the level of skill achieved that had the brain-boosting benefit.

Related: Autism linked to obesity in mothers

This study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Video: The battle with tourettes

Fines herbes butter Fines herbes butter Makes: 1½ cups
article topics   Model Mortgages.

Your say: Do you have any suggestions for good retirement strategies?

">Believe it or not your retirement strategy is probably not going to appear to you in the mirror. Which is a pity because so many women spend thousands of dollars on face creams anti-wrinkle serums hairdressers and time in front of the mirror. But how many women spend the same effort on their retirement strategies?

Not that it's bad for us to look great and spend money doing it it just doesn't make sense to not care about our financial futures when we spend so much on our future appearances. Twenty-five percent of women in Australia do not have one cent saved for retirement according to research by the Federal Government's Women understanding money initiative. There would not be 25 percent of Australian women who don't buy some form of anti-aging products.

The surprising thing is it takes such little effort to get a retirement strategy in place. All you need to do is work out how much income you can live off when you need it by and how much you need to save before retirement. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission's Fido website has free calculators at www.fido.gov.au where you can plan your retirement and they even explain how to use them.

Then you need to work out what return on your money you need to get where you need to go. Again Fido has calculators that can work this out. You can also look at your current superannuation fund and compare its fees using Fido's calculators.

The reason why you need to understand what your superannuation fund invests in and what fees they charge (something 95 percent of Australian women don't know) is because you need to know it's possible for your money to grow to where it needs to get to by the time you retire. If it's not possible you need to look again at your strategy.

One common strategy might be changing from investing in managed funds to index funds due to lower fees. Most managed funds do not outperform index funds which are funds that track an index such as the All Ordinaries' top 200 stocks.

Another strategy might be changing to property investments where you have more leverage as when you pay a 30 percent deposit and borrow 70 percent of the balance you can potentially profit from the whole amount not just the 30 percent you initially put in.

Whatever strategy you decide it needs to be your decision based on a strategy that works for you because you understand it. There is also risk with anything you look at so you also need to understand the risks to you.

When taking professional advice which is of course what we are all recommended to do you still need to understand the risks and costs of what you are doing. You are still ultimately responsible for any of your investments. As many financial advisors will tell you never invest in anything that you don't understand.

In some ways the task of finding a good financial professional is the same as finding a good hairdresser; you need to network to find out who the good people are. Then you need to find the one that suits you but just like your hairdresser if they cut off too much hair or pick a bad colour you end up wearing it. It's the same situation with financial advisers; if they pick a bad product you pay for it. There are many excellent financial advisors around so good luck. I hope you look beautiful in the mirror and get your retirement sorted out.

Virginia Graham is a mortgage broker for Model Mortgages.

Your say: Do you have any suggestions for good retirement strategies?

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