Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Great Reason to Exercise - Your Mind

Along with all the other reasons to exercise, how about keeping your wits as you get older. Regular exercise sessions have been proven in scientific journals to increase an area of the brain called the hippocampus. This area of the brain starts to decline at about the age of 30 and is associated with cognitive function. Another neurological study shows how exercise my slow brain shrinkage in patients with Alzheimer disease. Here are a few byproducts of being fit as you age: Improved memory and concentration, reduced gray matter loss, improved neurogenesis (generation of new brain cells), increased brain blood flow ( helps your neurons fire more quickly ) and a positive change in gene patterns ( helps genes that normally become less active to become more active).
A few mental steps can help the physical thing you do in the form of exercise: Read something new every day, try to play your own trivial pursuits ( look at old pictures and try to pick out details),crossword puzzles, old pop culture games, de-stress ( this has been show to shrink the hippocampus), 8 hours of sleep / naps, eat brain food ( walnuts, salmon and food rich in Omega-3's). Challenge your mind and your body and you can appreciate how good you look

Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't Skip Breakfast

Most people I've worked with don't seem to like to eat in the morning. If you skip breakfast or have a breakfast low or without enough protein you are really hurting yourself. Think of the word itself BREAK FAST. You are eating after being without food all night and hopefully since the last nights dinner (12-16 hours). Especially if you're weight training, you need to feed those muscles with protein. Skip breakfast and you'll probably will be short of the minimum requirement for the day. One key thing to remember is when you eat in the morning you jump-start your metabolism. Eat within the first hour after waking for the best results.
If you just don't want to eat in the morning, drink your breakfast. My favorite is whey isoloate protein powder and some OJ. If you want something low fat/high protein try cottage cheese. If you hate the taste of cottage cheese cover it with fruit. Another good idea if you have a little time is egg beaters. They taste a little bland so try the flavored ones (southwest) or spice them up with what ever you like. Your body can only assimilate 30-40 grams of protein at a sitting. Start the day with 30 grams and you should be good for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Mental Benefits of Exercise

The American Heart Association recommends 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Most of us have heard of the term "runner's high". During exercise the body's pituitary gland causes a release of endorphins that cause this good feeling. These neurotransmitters not only reduce the body's awareness to pain but also will elevate one's mood. Studies have also shown that people who suffer from depression also have low levels of serotonin. Serotonin or 5-HT is produced by the body's pineal gland by an amino acid called tryptophan when you keep you heart rate up for 20-30 minutes. Increased serotonin will elevate your mood and help you sleep better as well.
Finally with exercise comes an undisputed increase of blood flow to the brain. This increase in blood flow will make you more alert. With increased blood flow, the brain is also able to eliminate waste products that accumulate during the thinking process. This may explain why we often have so many good ideas when we walk.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Improve Your Balance

As we age there are many things that are inevitable. There are also several things we can do to be proactive and maintain quality of life and independence. Along with walking which should be a given, weight training is a proven way to maintain muscle strength and tone. Unfortunately many people know this but don't follow through and make routine exercise a part of the day to day.
If you want work on balance, here are a few easy exercises. These can go along with your walking and resistance routine or possible be a good place to start. The first one is to look at a clock with a second hand and stand on one leg (without holding on to something.) Have something close by and just tap it to steady yourself as you need it. Start with 20-30 seconds and work up to a min. Repeat the other leg and do the same thing. You usually find one side is easier than the other. This will not only help your balance but also strengthen the feet and ankles. The other thing to do is what I call the Drunk Test. Walk heel to toe across a long room. After this becomes easy you can make it more challenging by pausing a few secs. after each step and then crossing your arms as you pause. If you're better than me you can close your eyes and try. Make sure you have someone you trust in back of you.