Have you been worried about keeping your brain fit as you age? We all have. Alzheimer’s has been so much in the news and so many of our family members have suffered or are suffering with this terrible disease.
The good news is that medical science is finding out more about it every day. As with many diseases, lifestyle changes are the most effective means of protecting our brain.
One recent study showed that regular, moderate to vigorous physical activity predicts larger brain size in key regions, including gray and white matter, and the hippocampus. Other studies have also shown a link between regular physical exercise and reduced dementia risk.
In this new study, regular physical activity was measured at between 2.5 and 4 days a week.
“We found that even moderate levels of physical activity, such as taking fewer than 4,000 steps a day, can have a positive effect on brain health. This is much less than the often-suggested 10,000 steps, making it a more achievable goal for many people,” co-author David Merrill, MD, with Pacific Brain Health Center, Santa Monica, California, said in a statement.
Personally, I find that when I do 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there, during the day, my mood improves and it’s easier to fit 30 total minutes in without feeling stressed about time. Often, a 10-minute segment in the morning and a 20-minute afternoon or evening walk fit well into my day. I just have to put them in my calendar or set an alarm to remind me!
Since keeping our memories until we leave the planet is a goal for most of us in the over 60 crowd, there are plenty of exercise/movement choices out there.
A few things to keep in mind are:
- Schedule your short workouts in your calendar like any other important meeting, plan out what you’ll be doing and make a note. For example, if you want to work your lower body on Mondays and Wednesdays, pick three exercises and set your watch to do one minute of each exercise and then repeat three times. Here’s another example: you can choose upper body and core for Tuesday and Thursday by doing my Pilates crunches for one minute, then this upper body exercise for one minute. Rest for one minute and then repeat. That’s five tough minutes, but the benefits you will reap are HUGE!
- Don’t worry what shape you’re in, or not in, JUST START! If you can start with four or five minutes once a day – that’s great! The idea is to START! Once you make these little exercise bursts a habit, you can add more when you’re ready. Over the long run, you’ll build muscle and increase your stamina.
Here are a few suggestions that you can try for adding short segments into your day:
- Pick five of your favorite Yoga stretching or Pilates resistance exercises and do two minutes of each before breakfast. That’s only ten minutes, but what a great start to your day! And as we age, stretching before we start our day is important!
- Instead of a mid-morning “coffee break” take a ten-minute brisk walk around the neighborhood. It will make you more productive during the rest of the day as well!
- Before lunch do a ten-minute lower body burst and then enjoy a healthy, protein filled lunch!
- As little as five minutes of brisk walking after a meal has been shown to have a significant impact in moderating blood sugar levels. Start with five minutes after dinner and work your way up to twenty.
- This five-minute routine gets your blood pumping and exercises both upper and lower body. I highly recommend it, and there are modifications in this video.
As always, if you need a different modification, just let me know and I’ll happily help you.
Best of Health,