Thursday, March 17, 2011

Exercise the brain as well as the body

In Humana Active Outlook there were two articles that I found interesting.  For those of us living with Kennedy’s Disease, I feel it is important to exercise … to stimulate the motor neurons regularly in order to maintain muscle strength.  The first article discussed another important form of exercise.


“Your Beautiful Brain” was written by Kelly Traver, M.D., and Terri Smith.  The article initially says that your brain like for you to continue to do what you are already used to doing.  It does not like drastic change.  Making slow, gradual, easy changes and sticking with them is the key.  Taking small steps over a long period of time is easier for your brain to digest than one major change.


Your brain is:
  • Adaptable:  It can change.  At any age you can learn, grow, and improve.
  • Resistant:  Although it can change, as mentioned above, it is set in its ways and dislikes change.  Studies of brain scans suggest that any big change in your life causes a ‘stress response’.  Yet, there was little ‘stress response’ for incremental change.
  • Rational:  Your brain likes to solve problems.  It likes puzzles and riddles and enjoys being stimulated.  Any activities you enjoy triggers the pleasure centers within the brain.
  • Emotional:  When you are stressed, sad or worried, these emotions work against your health.  In fact, 90% of the information used in your decision making process comes from your brain’s emotional center.  This is why it is important to do things that have a positive effect on your mood and to keep negative stress out of your life.
Work the brain

“To be in the driver’s seat of your health means you must learn to be in the driver’s seat of your brain.  Get creative and set short-term goals that are right for you.”

You also have to recognize that failure is part of the learning (and change) process.  The key is to not be afraid to fail.    Remember Edison and Franklin’s failures, for example.  They all led to significant discoveries.
Dr. Traver ended the article with this comment:  “Lifestyle behavior accounts for 50 percent of one’s health, 50 percent of the total cost of healthcare, and 50 percent of the total causes of death.” 

The second article focused on the importance of combining a program of eating better with regular exercise.


“Nutrition and Exercise Basics” was also written by Dr. Traver and Ms. Smith.  It was an excellent ‘common-sense’ article about smart choices in your life.

fiber for health

They suggest three simple rules for getting to a healthy weight:
  1. Eat smaller amounts in order to lower your calories, lose weight, or maintain your current weight.
  2. Choose whole-grain, high-fiber, and unprocessed whole foods (in their most natural state).
  3. Choose good over bad fats.  That means choosing unsaturated, plant-based fasts most of the time.
“Simple Exercise Smarts”
  • Exercise is as close to the fountain of youth as anything we have found.  Aerobic exercises keep your heart, lungs and muscles strong.  Stretching keeps your muscles and tissue flexible and healthy.
  • If you exercise regularly, you can stay healthier and more active longer.
  • Exercise can actually increase a chemical in your brain that stimulates growth and health.  You can lower your risk of dementia through regular exercise.
What does this all mean for those of use living with Kennedy’s Disease.  Eating better and regular exercise, whether mental or physical, will help keep us healthy and stronger longer.  We might not be running any marathons or competing on Jeopardy, but we can “still be in the race.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment. By taking a moment to share your thoughts you add much to these articles. The articles then become more than just something I said or believe. In addition, by adding a comment, you might just be helping the next reader by sharing your opinion, experience, or a helpful tip. You can comment below or by sending me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.