Exercise over 60 is good for your brain. That is the bottom line for me.
Although I enjoy still having the strength to muster for tussling with the boy, who is 14, and keenly anticipating that day that he can "handle the old man", I am far more worried about the impact of aging on my brain's ability to function, especially since I have noticed issues with word recall.
To sum it up memories of sex are better than sex, although exercise is very beneficial for sex.
Luckily for me, there are a lot of researchers out there working on developing information about two key capacities of our brains that were unknown not to many years ago, called neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis means that my brain grows new brain cells daily, and, if I do not kill them with stress hormones or booze or VOC's or high fructose corn syrup, and if I challenge them with some kind of novel learning experience, they end up helping my hippocampus form or recall memories.
Neuroplasticity is the word used to describe how plastic my brain is, how neurons are constantly seeking to connect with one another, sometimes in minutes, and those networks of connections are vital to my brain's continued healthy functioning as I age.
The most important factor for increasing neurogenesis and neuroplasticity?
You got it, physical exercise.
If the words 'physical exercise' conjure up unpleasant images of gyms with massively muscled and sweaty men and women throwing around huge barbells, please discard that image, and the dread that goes with it.
Exercise over 60 does not have to be like that in order for our brains to benefit, although it can.
Exercise over 60 has a plethora of benefits besides brain fitness, including keeping your heart young, driving down high blood pressure, building up good cholesterol, improving balance, enhancing your sex life, increasing mental acuity, elevating mood, controlling diabetes, decreasing cancer risk, strengthening bones, easing joint pain and much, much morre.
Here is an an excellent e- book, Brainfit for Life which will give you an overview of how to get or to sustain brain fitness.
The book is written by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan, and their book is written for those of us who want to age gracefully.
They talk about what they call the pillars of brain fitness, and the most important pillar is physical activity/exercise.
Evans and Burghardt indicate that we can begin the pursuit of brain fitness by increasing the amount of what we are already doing in terms of exercise.
So if you are walking around the block once per day, go twice. Park further from the front door of the shop you are going to, all those things we have been hearing from the green folks about fuel conservation now apply to our brain fitness.
As you get stronger, you can move towards that workout style of exercise, but again it does not need to be the muscle beach type of workout.
Your physical exercise has to involve deep breathing, which increases blood flow to your brain, which increases the growth of the small blood vessels in the brain, feeding and cleansing neurons.
The exercise you do needs to make you breathe heavy enough that you cannot talk and exercise at the same time, and do it regularly.
If you are looking for some guidelines, Angie and Scott Tousignant have put together a HIIT or high intensity interval training workout, which is not where near as scary as it sounds, called More Love, Less Fat, which you can do at your pace and intensity in your basement with equipment no more sophisticated than an exercise ball and/or dumbells.
It is actually 30 second intervals of exercises you did as a kid in PE classes, for 10 minutes, and believe me, your brain will be fitter and your lungs out of wind.
Please check out The Aesthetic Muscle Plan, and book, More Love, Less Fat, by Angie and Scott Tousignant.
There are other brain pillars to attend to, including nutrition which is going to include putting an end to processed foods, and making sure you get enough omega 3 fatty acid.
Another part of your brain exercise over 60 workout will include novel learning experiences.
When Evans and Burghardt talk about that, they mention that the learning is usually of the kind involved in learning a new language, or a new instrument, but might involve using a computerized brain fitness program which could prove to be valuable it it provides the right kind of feedback, and increasing levels of challenge.
They discuss the research about how doing the dual n back task can impact IQ.
Can you imagine increasing your IQ over the age of 60? (Not to over 60). According to the researchers, the more you practice, the more your IQ can increase.
I have tried three of the brain fitness programs commercially available, because I was curious and I was impressed by the research.
The Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro is wonderful for focus and attention, and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, recently evaluated in the IMPACT study, which included over 500 participants over my age of 61, produced results for us Seniors which were quite amazing.
The Lumosity program is quick, a subscription program, and I do it right on my computer between clients or phone calls to brighten my brain.
They are valuable parts of my exercise over 60 workout.
Hint-Try them before and after your exercise. I bet you will notice a big improvement.
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