Brain Running

Brain Running sounds a bit like the title to some slasher/zombie flick where brains are stolen and run across the border to some secret lab....

Or maybe you do not have small children who love to cuddle up and watch horror flicks and scare the bejeebers out of themselves, and when you read the phrase brain running, you thought of the good impact running has on your brain.

That latter definition is the one I will write about here, the impact of aerobic exercise on the brain.

The resource that I find that is the most comprehensive and accessible is Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans, Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt, Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.

Their purpose in writing the book was to find all the nuggets hidden away in the academic research and bring them to the light of day for consumers who are interested in brain fitness for themselves, and to make the information accessible and understandable.

Evans and Burghardt say this about brain running, actually they are writing about physical activity and exercise, "The vast majority of us need more of it."

That is the bad news, the good news is that I do not need to look like Jack LaLanne, (you gotta be a Senior to know who he is) or to work out like an NFL pro-bowler to benefit from brain running, or deep breathing.

I can add in some HIIT or high intensity interval training right in the utility room of my basement tailored to my needs, my abilitites, and my schedule.

I first came across this model when I found Scott and Angie Tousignant's model called More Love, Less Fat which is a model for couples to use for working out together, you know, transform the body, and transform the relationship.

Please check out The Aesthetic Muscle Plan, and book, More Love, Less Fat, by Angie and Scott Tousignant. 

HIIT for Your Brain 

I was already involved in regular workouts, but I decided to try their model at home on weekends, and I really enjoy it.

I do some stairs, for 30 seconds, some jumping jacks for 30 seconds, some push-ups, for 30 seconds, some burpees, some skipping rope, ect. until I have done 10 minutes of exercise, and believe me, it really fills the bill for what Evans and Burghardt prescribe.

I am winded, and have a bit of a sweat worked up.

However,no expense, my schedule, my limits, I pick the exercises, so I pick exercises that my 61 year old knees will tolerate, and I get the benefits of brain running.

Actually, my wife and I did a video a quick youtube video on the couples warm-up forMore Love, Less Fat in January, and if you go look at that, you will see that we are far from the muscle beach crowd, which fits with what Burghardt and Evans say in Brainfit for Life that we need to do fitness appropriate exercise, meaning start where we are today.

The next point about brain running that Burghardt and Evans make is that it is preventative, which they call "prehab", rather than "rehab".

In other words, do it before you need to and build up a reserve.

Brain running also supplies the brain with increased amounts of blood, containing the food and nutrients neurons need, which needs to include omega 3's and antioxidants, lots of antioxidants, because the brain uses about 20% of the body's energy, meaning there are lots of chemical reactions in neurons each of which could unleash free radicals increasing oxidative stress on neurons. The more blood filled with antioxidants that we can get to the brain, the less oxidative damage there is, meaning less chance of Alzheimer's disease.

And then of course, after your brain running, you will want to try out a computerized brain fitness program to solidify your gains, and there are three I can recommend from personal experience.

The first one, Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, is based on research that Evans and Burghardt mention.  Check the link below for information about Mind Sparke.

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Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro - Software that makes you smarter
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