What’s good for your heart is good for your brain.
Exercise – you knew this was coming right?
Your brain needs to be constantly replenished with oxygen rich blood. The best way to accomplish that is to exercise. After you stop rolling your eyes, listen. I am not talking about running a marathon. I am talking about activities such as walking (you already know how), swimming (many high schools, gyms and health clubs have water exercise classes), bicycling (stationary or regular). If you really get into it, jogging, playing (singles) tennis, and hiking are good aerobic sports to keep oxygen rich blood pumping straight to your brain.
You do not need to compete (unless you are wired that way), but you do need some physical exercise each day. Exercise helps your body remain flexible. It builds muscle strength and keeps unwanted fat from accumulating in your body. One easy way to begin is to park as far away from the grocery store/mall as possible. This simple action will add extra steps to your daily routine. Invest in a pedometer. It is roughly a $30.00 investment and will provide objective information about your activity level. Most people think they move far more than they do (I was guilty as charged). If you have not been in the habit of exercising, start slowly. Walk for ten minutes, three times each day and work up to thirty minutes at one session. Aim for 10,000 steps a day – not impossible, simply disciplinary.
Everyone has 1,440 minutes in each day. How you use your allotment comes down to the choices you make. Fit and flexible or couch potato – the choice is yours every day.
“But, I don’t have the time.” is the most often voiced excuse for not becoming physically active. If time is a real issue, consider this: the time spent exercising is the most valuable time of your day. It is a gift of sound brain and strong body that will pay long range dividends. If your goal is to remain physically and mentally fit, you can’t afford not to exercise! A cartoon sent by a friend shows a doctor talking to an overweight patient. “So do you have 30 minutes a day to exercise or 24 hours a day to be dead?”
Another type of brain friendly exercise is yoga. This practice helps you to strengthen muscles and promote balance well into 70’s and 80’s. While not aerobic, yoga works on core muscles to allow you to feel and look better (while you are walking from the furthest spot in the parking lot). Yoga poses force your brain to work differently, telling your body to move in new ways.
Yet another way to exercise – I have worked with 90 year olds who exercise with weights (albeit 1 pound weights). Using weights or resistance builds muscle and uses energy more efficiently. A balance of aerobic, yoga, and weight resistance exercise will keep you fit and functioning.
These older exercising folks are my role models. They are keeping both brain and body fit and functioning well into advanced years. You can do it; so can I. It is a matter of knowing and then doing what you know is right.