Healthy Living Blog

Exercise: The Fountain of Youth for Your Brain

Tina Miller, MS RDN Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.Meijer.com/ahealthieryou  

 

A newly published comprehensive review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed years of research (39 studies) and summed up some significant findings, especially for those 50 and older. One of the most important outcomes described is that a combination of aerobic and resistance (strength) exercises provided a significant boost in brain power, independent of the individual participant’s current state brain health.  So, no matter how old and forgetful you become, exercise can boost brain power reduce risk for dementia and other brain related disorders.

Other specific review findings:

  • Aerobic exercise significantly enhanced cognitive abilities
  • Resistance training had a pronounced effect on executive function (goal oriented behaviors), memory, and working memory.
  • A few studies also showed that Tai Chi improved cognitive abilities, however more research needs to be done in this area.
  • The review summary determined that exercise sessions lasting between 45 and 60 minutes, of moderate to vigorous intensity, and of any frequency (most recommended 4 or more days per week), was good for brain health.

Where to start?

Whether your are well on your way, or just beginning your journey to healthy living, investing in home gym equipment can be an excellent motivator on days where you are too busy or just not interested in going to the gym or out for a run. Just 20-30 minutes of daily activity (even in front of the TV during your favorite show) will make an impact!

If you are just starting your journey to health, cardio exercises are a fantastic way to ease into a routine and make you feel great along the way. Gym equipment doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, and it certainly doesn’t need to take up a whole room.

The Meijer Health and Wellness team provide this list of 5 pieces of fitness equipment to start a home gym and exercise routine:

  1. Walking or Running Shoes: Walking is the number one exercise for strengthening your muscles, bones and joints. Whether you plan to walk or run, proper shoes are a must because they support your posture and stability, which will help avoid fatigue and injury.
  2. Exercise Mat or Yoga Mat: From Pilates, to sit ups and pushups, to meditation, exercise or yoga mats are super versatile and affordable. Folded in half or totally rolled out, the mat will give you that extra cushion.
  3. Stability Ball: From a desk chair to core workout, the possibilities are endless with stability balls. Every home gym would benefit from such a versatile piece of equipment. Use the ball for core exercises such as sit-ups as well as challenging pushups and squats.
  4. Jump Rope: Got $5 and a flat surface? That’s all you need for a cardio workout that is surprisingly difficult after just a few minutes. Cardio is an essential element to any exercise routine – it strengthens the heart and lungs, as well as increases bone density!
  5. Foam Roller: After each workout, the best thing you can do for your body is stretch and a foam roller takes it to a whole new level. Foam rollers help relieve muscle tension, balance and flexibility while also improving posture and alignment. Move from your calves to your back and you’ll feel a major difference!

If you are interested in buying a piece of home fitness equipment, but aren’t quite sure how to use it, there are fantastic online resources, as well as YouTube videos with professional trainers that take you step by step through a routine. You won’t know what an impact a simple piece of equipment can make until you try!

As always, please consult your physician or healthcare provider before starting any diet or exercise routine.

Brain Boosting Exercise Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 ripe banana (frozen if available)

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen—do not thaw if using frozen)

3/4 cup True Goodness by Meijer™ Organic low-fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dash each of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender and blend on until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Blend in a few ice cubes for a thicker smoothie or add a small amount of additional milk for a thinner smoothie.

Enjoy!