Train Your Brain & Your Body

Fitness Expert Beth Oliver joined us to talk about the importance of working our brains as much as we work our bodies.

This is what Beth had to say:

Most of us know that physical exercise stimulates the part of the nervous system that influences the production of serotonin and dopamine, often referred to as the ‘feel good” drugs. They help improve mood, vitality and alertness and decrease stress and anxiety.  This in itself is great, but newer research is showing just how great exercise is for the brain itself.

Your brain is a thinking organ that learns and grows by interacting with the world through perception and action. Mental stimulation improves brain function and actually protects against cognitive decline, as does physical exercise.

The human brain is able to continually adapt and rewire itself. Even in old age, it can grow new neurons. Severe mental decline is usually caused by disease, whereas most age-related losses in memory or motor skills simply result from inactivity and a lack of mental exercise and stimulation. In other words, use it or lose it.

There are lots of great “brain games” we can play to keep stimulating the brain:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Jig-saw puzzles
  • Math games
  • Memory games
  • Things that challenge our creativity and spatial awareness
  • In fact, anything that makes us concentrate on the task at hand

We can use some of those ideas to make simple exercises even better for the brain.

1. Basic lunge ( challenge the body  by moving in different planes and by challenging spatial awareness)

  • a. Add an under and over movement with a ball.
  • b. Do the same thing with eyes closed.

2. Pointer w/ a-symmetrical movements ( right side  and left side are doing different things)

  • a. Add upside down crunch

3. Bicep curl with airplane

  • a. Stand on one leg

4. Traveling push-up

5. Memory  Sequence

  • a. Squats
  • b. Walking burpee
  • c. A-symmetrical pointer
  • d. Flying locust
  • e. Reverse the order

The bottom line is that if you don’t have to think about what you are doing, you are on auto-pilot.  When you are on auto pilot you are not challenging your brain,  So think of your brain like a muscle and flex it!

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