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Happy New Year!

2013, the Year of Snake

For over three millennia China has followed the lunar calendar to record time. To count the years, the lunar calendar uses the 10 Heavenly Stems (甲、乙、丙、丁、戊、己、庚、辛、壬、癸) and 12 Earthly Branches (子、丑、寅、卯、辰、巳、午、未、申、酉、戌、亥). Each year is named by one Heavenly Stem combining with one Earthly Branch. The combination, a cycle, has 60 years. In the mean time, to correspond with the Earthly Branches, each year is assigned to one of the 12 animals (鼠、牛、虎、兔、龙、蛇、马、羊、猴、鸡、犬、猪), that represents people who were born. Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac are thus used to number the years, record and measure time, and determine each person's zodiac sign.


The Earthly Branch is 巳("si"). Zodiac animal is snake. The snake is an old species on earth. The snake ranks sixth among the 12 zodiac animals. It is said that during the hour (9:00 - 11:00), the mist has lifted and the sun shines brightly. Snakes are extraordinarily active during this period. The hour is thus matched with the snake. The Snake is regarded as keen and cunning, quite intelligent and wise. Ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means your family will not starve.

Snake years are sixth in the cycle and recur every twelfth year: 2025, 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941... The Chinese New Year does not fall on a specific date of the Solar Calendar, so it is essential to check the calendar to find the exact date on which each Snake Year actually begins. The year of the Snake, 2013, is coming on February 10th.


干支 五行 生肖 公元
甲子 木 (Wood) 鼠 (Rat) 1924, 1984
乙丑 木 (Wood) 牛 (Ox) 1925, 1985
丙寅 火 (Fire) 虎 (Tiger) 1926, 1986
丁卯 火 (Fire) 兔 (Rabbit) 1927, 1987
戊辰 土 (Earth) 龙 (Dragon) 1928, 1988
已巳 土 (Earth) 蛇 (Snake) 1929, 1989
庚午 金 (Metal) 马 (Horse) 1930, 1990
辛未 金 (Metal) 羊 (Goat) 1931, 1991
壬申 水 (Water) 猴 (Monkey) 1932, 1992
癸酉 水 (Water) 鸡 (Rooster) 1933, 1993
甲戌 木 (Wood) 狗 (Dog) 1934, 1994
乙亥 木 (Wood) 猪 (Pig) 1935, 1995
丙子 火 (Fire) 鼠 (Rat) 1936, 1996
丁丑 火 (Fire) 牛 (Ox) 1937, 1997
戊寅 土 (Earth) 虎 (Tiger) 1938, 1998
已卯 土 (Earth) 兔 (Rabbit) 1939, 1999
庚辰 金 (Metal) 龙 (Dragon) 1940, 2000
辛巳 金 (Metal) 蛇 (Snake) 1941, 2001
壬午 水 (Water) 马 (Horse) 1942, 2002
癸未 水 (Water) 羊 (Goat) 1943, 2003
甲申 木 (Wood) 猴 (Monkey) 1944, 2004
乙酉 木 (Wood) 鸡 (Rooster) 1945, 2005
丙戌 火 (Fire) 狗 (Dog) 1946, 2006
丁亥 火 (Fire) 猪 (Pig) 1947, 2007
戊子 土 (Earth) 鼠 (Rat) 1948, 2008
己丑 土 (Earth) 牛 (Ox) 1949, 2009
庚寅 金 (Metal) 虎 (Tiger) 1950, 2010
辛卯 金 (Metal) 兔 (Rabbit) 1951, 2011
壬辰 水 (Water) 龙 (Dragon) 1952, 2012
癸巳 水 (Water) 蛇 (Snake) 2013-2-10
甲午 木 (Wood) 马 (Horse) 1954, 2014
乙未 木 (Wood) 羊 (Goat) 1955, 2015
丙申 火 (Fire) 猴 (Monkey) 1956, 2016
丁酉 火 (Fire) 鸡 (Rooster) 1957, 2017
戊戌 土 (Earth) 狗 (Dog) 1958, 2018
已亥 土 (Earth) 猪 (Pig) 1959, 2019
庚子 金 (Metal) 鼠 (Rat) 1960, 2020
辛丑 金 (Metal) 牛 (Ox) 1961, 2021
壬寅 水 (Water) 虎 (Tiger) 1962, 2022
癸卯 水 (Water) 兔 (Rabbit) 1963, 2023
甲辰 木 (Wood) 龙 (Dragon) 1964, 2024
乙巳 木 (Wood) 蛇 (Snake) 1965, 2025
丙午 火 (Fire) 马 (Horse) 1966, 2026
丁未 火 (Fire) 羊 (Goat) 1967, 2027
戊申 土 (Earth) 猴 (Monkey) 1968, 2028
已酉 土 (Earth) 鸡 (Rooster) 1969, 2029
庚戌 金 (Metal) 狗 (Dog) 1970, 2030
辛亥 金 (Metal) 猪 (Pig) 1971, 2031
壬子 水 (Water) 鼠 (Rat) 1972, 2032
癸丑 水 (Water) 牛 (Ox) 1973, 2033
甲寅 木 (Wood) 虎 (Tiger) 1974, 2034
乙卯 木 (Wood) 兔 (Rabbit) 1975, 2035
丙辰 火 (Fire) 龙 (Dragon) 1976, 2036
丁巳 火 (Fire) 蛇 (Snake) 1977, 2037
戊午 土 (Earth) 马 (Horse) 1978, 2038
已未 土 (Earth) 羊 (Goat) 1979, 2039
庚申 金 (Metal) 猴 (Monkey) 1980, 2040
辛酉 金 (Metal) 鸡 (Rooster) 1981, 2041
壬戌 水 (Water) 狗 (Dog) 1982, 2042
癸亥 水 (Water) 猪 (Pig) 1983, 2043


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Aerobic exercise, resistance training (such as weight lifting), and tai chi can all boost brain function in people older than 50, concludes a review published today in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Those mind-strengthening benefits even provided a boost to those who were already suffering from mild cognitive impairment, which is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The researchers also found that “multicomponent” programs--which combine aerobic exercise and resistance training as recommended by the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines—were particularly effective in boosting brain health.

Resistance training and aerobic exercise each release different types of compounds that “help support the growth of neurons in the brain,” says study author Joe Northey, a Ph.D. candidate in exercise physiology at the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise in Australia. “Doing both may be providing a ‘sweet spot’ for brain health.”

“What’s good for the body is good for the brain,” says exercise physiologist and neuroscientist Dianna Purvis Jaffin, Ph.D., director of strategy and programs at the Brain Performance Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas. “We know that people who have higher levels of cardiovascular fitness tend to have larger brain volume, but both aerobic exercise and strength training are important.”

A Workout Routine for Your Brain

If you’re thinking about starting a workout regimen (or amending your current routine), you can often find supervised programs through a hospital, community recreation center, or gym.

But while the new study only included such supervised programs—where elements like frequency, intensity, and duration were monitored and controlled—you can reap these cognitive benefits by exercising on your own, too, says Northey.

“Just discuss your plans to exercise with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe,” he says.

To maximize the brain benefits of working out, keep these key takeaways from the study in mind:

Include resistance training along with aerobic exercise. Current U.S. exercise guidelines recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise a week and doing strength training two or three times weekly. (At a moderate level, you can maintain a conversation while you work out. During vigorous exercise, it will be difficult to talk.)

Work out for 45 to 60 minutes per session. Researchers found the biggest benefit came from at least 45 minutes of exercise, although shorter sessions are certainly helpful as well. If you’re working out more intensely, you may be able to do it for less time. (Northey is currently studying how high-intensity interval training—alternating between hard and easy bouts of exercise—can impact brain power.)

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Exercise on most days. While the review found beneficial brain effects with any level of frequency of exercise, a regular, consistent routine will improve your fitness level and muscle mass, two things that are protective as you age.

Consider starting with tai chi. Although there were fewer studies with tai chi, researchers found it does enhance cognitive abilities and it can be good for people who are new to working out or aren’t as mobile. (The study also looked at yoga, but researchers weren’t able to accurately gauge its impact on the brain due to a lack of good quality studies.)

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