This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
While exercising the brain is of great importance in retirement wellness centers to aid in preventing or reversing memory loss and dementia, it’s never too early to start actively increasing your “brain fitness.” Occasional memory loss happens to anyone, young or old. It often occurs in moments of fatigue, nervousness, or anxiety.
There are exercises you can do to increase memory and other cognitive skills. Just as you should incorporate variety and extra challenges into your physical exercise routines, you should do the same for your brain.
A few mental exercises suggested in this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer are
- Learn one new word per day and find ways to work it into normal conversation.
- Learn a new language.
- Perform routine tasks in a different way.
Often in retirement or corporate fitness centers, we challenge clients by asking them to close their eyes or stand on only one foot while they do basic strength exercises, thus heightening their proprioceptive awareness and teaching better balance. Similarly, the article says that when you change up simple daily tasks, such as unlocking your front door with your eyes closed, you are activating more senses and key areas of the brain, keeping your mental function at its top level.
Make it your goal to add one mental exercise, such as a crossword puzzle, to your daily routine!
This blog was written by Mara Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
You know the feeling. The alarm clock is ringing and you're thinking, “If only I had one more hour to sleep.” Americans tend to lose about an hour of sleep per night (about two full weeks of slumber per year), pushing our bodies into sleep debt.
The side-effects of sleep deprivation are not fun to experience: impaired memory, foggy brain, worsened vision, and impaired driving. Long-term effects of lack of sleep can include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease.
Work Out Wisely to Improve Sleep
If you’re like many people, you are looking to get out of sleep debt. Exercise can help you sleep more soundly. Consider the following when exercising:
- Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve your mood. Coupling exercise with the natural morning light reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, improving your night’s rest.
- The most beneficial exercise time is mid-afternoon to early evening. Vigorous exercise during this time raises your body temperature a few hours before bed. Then as you get ready for bed, your body temperature is falling, allowing a natural wind-down for the night.
- Vigorous exercise before bed is not good for sleep. It raises your temperature and stimulates your brain and muscles, making winding down more difficult.
Understand the Importance of Sleep to Your Health
With some practice you can repay your sleep debt. Just like with exercise, the amount of time and intensity you sleep is important. Add an extra hour or two of sleep a night to ensure that you spend more time in deep sleep. Go to bed when you are tired and allow yourself to wake up naturally.
Sleep is vital to restorative health, so bail your body out of sleep debt by being active and catching up on your Zs!
This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Most people would agree that regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but how much of an impact does physical activity really have on one’s health and well-being?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has been advocating exercise as medicine since 2008, and when you look at the statistics, the reasoning behind their now-famous Exercise is MedicineTM initiative becomes clear. Studies have shown that regular exercise does the following:
- Lowers the risk of stroke by 27 percent.
- Reduces the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 58 percent.
- Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by approximately 50 percent.
- Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50 percent.
- Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent.
- Can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent.
- Can decrease symptoms of depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.
Newer research also suggests that certain exercise provides cognitive benefits. Specifically, exer-gaming may delay—or even prevent—dementia, and has been shown to improve cognitive function in normal aging. Such exer-games include CyberCycle by Expresso and Shadowboxer ACTIVE.
Exer-games are also beneficial to physical aspects of health, as they shift one’s attention from the sometimes monotonous mindset of exercise to the task at hand, allowing them to put forth greater effort. Exer-games may also be more enticing for those who are easily bored by traditional exercise, thus helping them to more easily commit to a regular exercise routine.
This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Walking has long been touted as one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise an individual can perform. The convenience of walking and the relative ease of it (compared to some other forms of high-impact exercise) make it a beneficial part of any exercise program for individuals of all ages.
The Impact of Walking on Senior Health
Regular walking is especially important for seniors, as it helps them maintain balance, muscle mass, and cardiovascular function that can otherwise deteriorate with age. It assists with the prevention of chronic disease and may help ease the symptoms of some medical conditions.
In addition, what’s good for the body has also been proven to be good for the mind; walking combats age-related cognitive decline, which helps seniors maintain their memory and prevent dementia. Specifically, walking increases the size of the hippocampus, which is a section of the brain related to memory.
Studies Prove the Memory Benefits of Walking for Senior Wellness
While many forms of activity can be good for the brain, a year-long study at a handful of universities specifically highlights the benefits of walking as compared to other forms of activity. Data was taken from two groups of seniors: one group with a walking program and another performing yoga and resistance-band training. The size of the hippocampus increased in the walking group but decreased in the other group. Therefore, especially if you are a senior, it’s important to lace up those athletic shoes and hit the pavement!
Walking Tips for Seniors
Check out the following walking tips for seniors:
- If you’re just beginning, start slow. You may want to consult with your doctor about a program.
- Walk as briskly as possible, which will help you reap the most benefits.
- Invest in a pair of comfortable walking/running shoes with plenty of support and cushioning.
- If you have joint ailments, try finding softer ground on which to walk, such as a trail or a track.
- Incorporate intervals into your walking program. Mix in speed bursts and incline training.
- Recruit a walking buddy. Exercise can be much more enjoyable with a friend!
- If walking outside, try varying your routes to keep the scenery interesting.