Keeping Our Brains Young

Aerobic exercise can change the brain’s anatomy, physiology and function. Wendy Suzuki, PhD, author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life.

Perhaps you think exercise is all about your body—building muscles, conditioning your heart, circulatory systems, etc. You’re right, of course, but exercise is also about your brain. Exercise, along with fresh food, adequate sleep, and socialization, helps keep your brain healthy. “What virtually no one recognizes,” warns John Rately, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, “is that inactivity is killing our brains.”

Scientists believe that physical activity stresses our brains similarly to how it works our muscles. Neurons break down, then recover, becoming stronger and more resilient. The good news is that exercise keeps our brains young. Rately adds, “Everything we’ve learned continues to confirm that exercise helps prevent cognitive decline as we age.” Exercise makes our brain stronger and protects it from a variety of diseases including dementia. If this doesn’t motivate us to exercise, what will?

Affirmation: I exercise regularly.

Coaching questions: How much do you value your physical and mental health? What steps will you take this week to honor this value?  

 

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Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash 

Live Like An Ikarian

We just forget to die. Ikarian woman interviewed by Blue Zones researcher (Ikaria is a Greek Island where many live to be over 100)

People on Ikaria rarely, if ever, experience dementia which affects more than 5 million people in the United States. Here are a few lifestyle tips to help you live a longer, healthier life like the Ikarians. 

…Challenge yourself to master new skills. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the type of activity doesn’t matter. Find something new you enjoy and master it.

…According to the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, eating whole foods like beans, greens, berries, olive oil, and whole grains will help you improve your cognitive processes.  

…Avoid chronic stress. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that those who participated in mediation increased the amount of gray matter density in the learning and memory area of their brains. Daily exercise is also recommended as a stress reliever and to protect your mind.

…Get enough sleep! Quality sleep without the aid of medication is most important.

Affirmation: I choose to live a healthy life. 

Coaching questions: What do you do to stay healthy? What can you do better? What’s one thing you will add or change today to do the most you can to avoid the onset of dementia? It’s never too late to begin.

Exercise Your Heart

There is no better exercise for the heart than to reach down and lift people up. John Andrew Holmes, author

This morning I will be hitting the gym in an effort to keep my body strong. Aerobic exercise is good for the heart but I believe Holmes is on to something also. Just as finding ways to physically exercise like parking in the back of the lot or taking the stairs, looking for opportunities to “lift people up” also strengthens the heart.

Sometimes you hear it in their hello and ask, “How are you really?” or you see it in the tension on their face. Watch for clues that will give you an opportunity to exercise your heart and make a difference in the life of another.

Affirmation: I lift people up.

Coaching questions: What have you done lately to lift another up? How did your heart feel? What will you do to create or be responsive to opportunities in the future?

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Be Good To Yourself!

Women 60 years old and older are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than breast cancer.  Women’s Alzheimer’s Website

I know you’d rather read about beautiful sunrises (see yesterday) than deadly, debilitating diseases but the purpose of my blog is to enlighten, engage, and coach you to being the best you can be. Part three of my upcoming book tells stories of women who have lost or are losing their mothers to Alzheimer’s so I’m on a mission to learn and educate others about this dread disease.

Nothing can prevent Alzheimer’s. However, according to Catherine Cruikshank, MA, Ph.d, from the Alzheimer’s Association, there are things you can do to give yourself a better chance of staying healthy. The key, she says, is to remember that what is good for your heart is good for your brain. For instance…do exercises that elevate your heart rate, stretch, eat well, read, be social, learn new things, keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum, know the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s (see web site) and seek medical help early if you have suspicions.

Losing a mother to Alzheimer’s is one of the greatest heartaches of all because it means losing them twice.

Affirmation: I take good care of myself.

Coaching questions: What are you doing to take care of your heart and brain? Can you do more? If so, what’s one thing you will add to your regimen?