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Puzzles and games are not the best exercise for your brain. According to plenty of research, physical exercise is the best activity for brain health. It is aerobic activity that benefits the brain not crossword puzzles or sudoku. Any activity that gets you sweating and elevates the heart and breathing rates for an extended period of time has a significant, overwhelmingly beneficial effect on the brain. When it comes to boosting your mood, improving your memory, and protecting your brain from age-related cognitive decline, exercise is as close to a wonder drug as you will get. Aerobic exercise is key for your brain , just as it is for your heart.
Resistance training with free weights, machines or body weight exercises is beneficial in that it allows individuals to improve and maintain muscle mass. Muscle mass burns more calories, even when the body is at rest but maintaining muscle also ensures that strength will be maintained. Strength is important to any older adult who desires to maintain independence in caring for themselves. Activities such as Yoga or Tai Chi are important to maintaining good balance and flexibility. Participating in a stretching program such as these will also help reduce age related mobility decline. All of these activities are great. Everyone of any age should participate in them as often as possible. But it is aerobic activity that will be of most benefit to the brain.
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain involved in memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and toning exercises did not have the same effect on the brain. Aerobic exercise causes the body to create new blood vessels. Blood vessels carry oxygen. New blood vessels mean more pathways for blood to travel throughout the body as it brings oxygen to all areas. In the cardiovascular system this means if one pathway is blocked due to any kind of heart disease the blood will have other pathways to follow and a heart attack can be avoided or the severity lessened. An increased number of blood vessels in the brain means improved oxygen levels to the brain which means decreased risk of stroke and improved brain activity.
Other studies have found that the prefrontal cortex as well as the medial temporal cortex regions of the brain have greater volume in people who exercise aerobically versus those who don’t. These areas of the brain control thinking and memory. Exercise also stimulates the release of growth chemicals in the brain which affect the health, abundance and survival of new brain cells. Exercise improves mood and sleep as well as reducing stress and anxiety. These factors can all play a part in cognitive impairment. If exercise can help, why would you not give it a try?
Researchers say that one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds globally. If you don’t want to be that person, get moving. Walk briskly, cycle, swim aggressively, get moving enough to break a sweat for at least 20 minutes 5-7 times a week. Dancing is also a great way to improve brain health. A style of dance that requires you to learn patterns or moves and is done at a level quick enough to elevate the heart rate is the best choice. Find a Zumba or line dancing class to attend. Not only will you have a ton of fun you will also be taking care of your brain.
Allowing your child to experience unstructured, free, playtime, outdoors or in is one of the best things you can do for them. Free play, along with the basic needs of shelter, nutrition, and education is vital to a child’s healthy physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. According to the Pediatric Society, unstructured play is essential for healthy brain development. Kids who are involved in unstructured active free play improve their strength, agility, balance, fine and gross motor skills as well as physical confidence.
Fitness Corner and Fitness Corner South
Fitness Corner and Fitness Corner South
As we move into the second month of 2018 are you still on track with meeting your goals for this year? May people set a goal of smoking cessation. That’s a good one. Health benefits begin to happen within the first hour after your last cigarette. Smoking elevates the heart rate, but not in a good way like that of a brisk walk. It is elevated due to decreased oxygen in the blood caused by smoking. The heart works harder to deliver what oxygen there is to areas of the body that need it. Your heart rate will return to a more normal level within the first half hour of your last cigarette and you are on your way to better health.
Within 12 hours after that last smoke your oxygen levels begin to return to a more normal level. This is due to the decrease of carbon monoxide in the blood. Carbon monoxide is released from burning tobacco and inhaled with the smoke. Carbon monoxide is toxic in high levels in the body. We have home detector systems for the stuff. It also bonds well with blood cells which prevents them from bonding with oxygen which pretty much feeds every organ we have. This lack of oxygen causes many problems especially for the heart, lungs and brain. The good news is within 12 hours carbon monozide begins to decrease and oxygen to increase. Within one full day of being a non-smoker your risk of coronary artery disease begins to lower.
At two days smoke free you will notice an improvement in your sense of smell and taste. At 2 weeks your withdrawal symptoms will decrease and at 3 weeks you will be able to exercise and perform physical activity without feeling winded. Blood circulation and heart function will be improved and your lungs will begin to clear. Less coughing will occur after a month or two. After one year smoke free your risk of heart disease drops to half that of a smoker. By 5 years your risk of stroke is as low as a non-smoker. By 10 years your risk of lung cancer is also the same as a non-smoker. Risk of other cancers lowers at 10 years as well. At 15 years your risk of heart disease is the same as a non-smoker.
The health benefits of quitting smoking are many. Non-smokers generally live 10 years longer than smokers. Give it up if you can and enjoy 10 more years of a healthy active lifestyle.