The Neuroscience Of Exercise

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Neuroscience is the study of the brain, the spinal cord, how the nervous system develops, its structure, what it does, and its impact on behavior and cognitive functions.

The neuroscience of physical, mental, and spiritual health is very dear to my heart because of my family's history of mental illness.

My family practiced healthy living; we lived on a farm, eating fresh fare and vegetables we grew from our garden. We were dancers, athletes, health-conscious, spiritual. What went wrong?

My sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age twenty. She just passed away last Christmas, having spent her entire life in mental institutions. My brother suffered brain damage when he was five months old. He is still in a mental institution today at 64 years old. My mother suffered from religious psychosis and was hospitalized on many occasions. My father couldn't take it anymore. When I was ten years old, he jumped out a second-story window, broke all his bones, and ended up in the psych ward. Consequently, he was on medication for the rest of his life and passed away from dementia in 2009.

As a teenager, I was confused and baffled by all these dysfunctional behaviors; I didn't want to be like them, I left home at age 15.

So began the conquest of searching for answers throughout my entire life, which I wanted to share some of my findings.

The brain can regenerate itself with the right activities, mindsets, and nutrition. It is what we know as neuroplasticity.

The benefits of mindset and nutrition for brain health are widespread, but not so much when it relates to exercise.

Research shows that exercise induces neuroplasticity.

It increases oxygen in the brain by opening new pathways internally; it stimulates the development of blood vessels in the brain, improves healing of neural tissue, creates new neurons in memory formation areas of the brain, and stimulates cellular growth that supports cognitive function.

It stabilizes mood behavior by augmenting the production of mood-elevation neurochemicals such as dopamine and endorphins. Other studies indicate that it helps in addiction recovery and potentially tempering impulsive/compulsive behaviors, as it also increases the production of serotonin.

The nervous system connects every cell in the body to the brain through the spine. It controls every cell, tissue, and organ, as well as emotions, feelings, and thoughts. The brain is like the electrical panel in your home, the nerves are like the wiring, and the spinal cord the conduit.

When your nervous system is stressed out you are prone to

  1. Overthinking
  2. Poor diet
  3. Doing strenuous exercises counterproductive to where your body is at by not factoring in your age, posture, conditioning, limitation of range of motion, injuries, or the right fitness tool to physically strengthen the body.

The chances are that your nervousness will blow a fuse, much like the electrical panel in the house, potentially resulting in injury, illness, depression, anxiety, and/or addictions.

If the conduit is damaged, the electricity will not reach the control box.

Similarly, if the spine is misaligned, it affects the nerve tissue by altering blood flow to the spinal cord and impairs the neurochemicals' delivery to the brain.

Bad posture also prematurely ages the spine, joints, tendons, and ligaments and results in injuries such as Sciatica, frozen shoulder, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain.

Clearing the neuromuscular pathways to the brain through postural realignment exercises is imperative to restore blood flow to the brain and prevent early degeneration of the spine.

While exercise, in general, has proven to be an essential component of neuroplasticity and brain health, research shows that strength training explicitly provides additional health benefits.

A study published by the Karger Journal of Gerontology shows that increasing leg strength, the most massive muscle in the body, is linked to improved brain function because it improves the flow of blood into the brain. The study also shows that increasing leg power improved cognitive aging over the following ten years by increasing brain volume and brain activation, as shown in functional MRI studies after 12 years.

Grounding the physical body and strengthening it through exercises that strengthen the nervous system is like upgrading the electrical panel wiring of your house, providing a sense of calm, relieving stress, and restoring a state of balance in the body.

I leave you with a thought.

Could strength training be the answer to the fountain of youth?

Written by Batista Gremaud – co-founder of Dr Fitness International - No1 Best Selling Author - Recipient of the “Most Outstanding Fitness Program” award 2019 by The Winners Circle -DrFitnessInt.com 

DrFitnessUSA.com - DrFitnessInt.com

Originally written for and published in #Inthelimelight magazine for @ClarissaBurt https://clarissaburt.com/winter-2020-issue/

 

Urgent…disturbing statistics

Urgent... A matter of Life and Death.

Disturbing statistics!

A sedentary lifestyle is responsible for one out of ten mortalities worldwide or over 5.3 million+ yearly since 2012. Health authorities pronounced this matter as a worldwide pandemic; Harvard analysts found that lack of exercise is accountable for a shocking rise in people passing away from coronary illness, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon malignancies.

Studies have demonstrated that it is more probable that those with prior health conditions will die from the coronavirus.

PUTTING YOUR HEALTH FIRST IS A MUST

strong, responsive immune system is superior to any mask, medication, or vaccine. Because without it - nothing will help you! It is your insurance against viruses, against falls, accidents, and other unforeseen circumstances that may occur.

One of the foundational law of nature states that the weak shall die, and the strong shall live. 

Therefore, your first priority needs to become a stronger you, that is if you want to thrive in your personal and professional life, not just survive or even die; Physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically stronger, because you can't have one without the other. They are interrelated. 

Sadly enough, many have been and are still laughing at the face of death. 

Attitudes and language that put you at risk of dying prematurely

"I am so busy."

"I am good; I walk every day."

"My children come first."

"My business comes first."

"My cat has diabetes." 

You cannot take care of anyone or anything, whether it is your pet, children, significant other, parent, a friend, your business when you are sick or dead or lack the strength to handle problems that come up.

QUIZ

Which one of the following activities is likely to make you stronger, faster?

1) Yoga 

2) Pilates 

3) Running 

4) Swimming 

5) Walking 

6) Lifting Weights 

Right answer: #6

The number 1 scientifically proven anti-aging sport, is STRENGTH TRAINING;

What better approach to get STRONGER! 

Without getting too scientific, what you need to know is that there are two types of muscle fibers in the body.

Slow-twitch muscle fibers activate concentric contractions, these are the muscles we use in yoga and in aerobic, treadmills, dancing and marathon runners  etc…. This develops endurance, it is called static strength. It does not have the necessary properties to build muscle mass. If you are trying to lose weight, then a good thing to know is that studies have shown that those who do a lot of yoga have a slower metabolism, so yoga would not be a good activity of choice for the purpose of losing weight.

Fast-twitch muscle use eccentric contractions, it is an anaerobic activity; it develops explosive strength and is muscle building. Strength training and sprinters employ fast-twitch muscles. Note that most sprinters need to do strength training to balance out muscle mass by developing their upper body, as sprinting mainly builds leg muscles, which would leave them with an unbalanced physique, and poor performance.

Using lightweight and high repetitions fall into the slow-twitch category and is not a muscle-building activity and neither is lifting 10 lbs dumbbells at home or putting 2 lb bands on your wrists while on your walk or doing dishes. These types of activities are still falling in the aerobic category.

Aerobic activities and Yoga, are scientifically proven to be missing the key anti-aging component to a balanced exercise program, which is muscle building.

Here is an overview of what happens to the body as a result of losing muscle mass, which begins as early as age 30, depending on your lifestyle. The women on the top row of the picture are incorporating strength training to their weekly activities,  while the women at the bottom row are not.

MUSCLE LOSS SYNDROME

If you are not building muscle mass, you are losing muscle mass. Muscle loss syndrome is no joke; it leads to serious health problems.

There are various categories of issues that may arise

A. If you have a tendency towards weight gain, you will continue to gain weight and suffer the health consequences associated with it, such as

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancers
  • Back and neck pain
  • sciatica

B. If you are small framed or petite, you will use muscle tissue for energy, which will deplete your body

  • Weak immune system
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes,
  • Anemia.
  • You’ll also be prone to suffer from back and neck pain but for you especially, you will be in very serious danger of developing
  • Osteoporosis

In any case, you are aging prematurely.

Don’t wait until you get sick to take action. I saw an advertising panel from AARP the other day, it said strength is not optional. Strength is not optional and you develop and keep it with strength training; that is why it is called strength training, or bodybuilding!

STRENGTH IS NOT OPTIONAL

Of course, we understand, you have no time, remember:

Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to make time for illnesses.” Earl of Derby

This is why you need a structured strength training system, the keyword here is a system, that will address your basic needs (aerobic and anaerobic = endurance and muscle building)  to stay healthy, saving time money and energy long term but also to give you the education needed to sustain the workouts on your own, for the rest of your life, because there are no quick fixes here, this about adopting healthy habits. After all, you wouldn’t stop brushing your teeth just because you had a cleaning last week, right? It is the same thing with strength training, if you don’t do it, your body will suffer decay and you will have to pay the price sooner or later.

By the way, health is cumulative, you start losing muscle mass as early as 30 years old, depending on your lifestyle and your fitness activities,  so the sooner you start on a healthy and balanced strength training system, the easier it will be for you later on in life.

SOLUTION

The path to becoming physically and emotionally strong requires increasing your physical strength while keeping the body grounded. This is done with specific ergonomic strength training. 

The process immediately relieves stress and produces endorphins that counteract the negative effect of the cortisol hormone that is created by fear, anxiety, worry, and tension.

Ideally, the process of increasing physical strength is done in a gym where adequate weight lifting equipment is found. Since the gyms are temporarily closed virtual programs are available online to do in the comfort of your home, eliminating any excuse not to exercise.    

It is each individual's responsibility to educate themselves on what to do at home. Many well-intentioned people are getting injured at home by doing activities that are beyond their comfort zone. A dancer friend of mine just reported spraining her ankle by jump roping with her son. Others are doing exercises based on body weight, such as pull-ups, push-ups, walking lunges, which can be really hard on the joints, causing shoulder and knee pain. 

TRAINING SAFELY FROM HOME

To build strength and develop lean muscle mass, you must lift more weight than what you would do with bodyweight activities alone. Despite mainstream thinking, yoga isn't a muscle-building activity, for instance. 

WHAT TO DO

Below are a few thoughts to build strength at home 

  • Purchase some workout bands
  • Purchase some free weights, 
  • Use your imagination and check your home for things that you could utilize, for example, a gallon of water, soup jars, cat litter sacks. 
  • Learn proper ergonomic techniques to build strength safely and at the same time correct your posture

FOR GENERAL FITNESS

For cardio health and general wellness, move. 

  • Mow the lawn
  • Do some spring cleaning
  • Wash your car
  • Work in the garden

WHEN WORKING FROM HOME

  • Take frequent breaks (every 45 min take 5 min to stretch)
  • Stand on your porch or an open window and breathe some fresh air
  • Meditate

Other useful tips 

  • Cut down on television and news 
  • Explore fun and healthy activities with your family 
  • Clean up your pantry and try new healthy recipes

ESCAPING REALITY?

Many people are spending their days online, attending everyone's virtual events. This can be more of an escape from reality than providing real solutions. Instead, sit in silence and spend quality time with your family. Escaping reality has never improved anyone's circumstances.

Learn to set your boundaries and say NO to loved ones in order not to hurt yourself.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Don't' use lockdown as an excuse to become a couch potato, indulging in junk food, and booze every night. Use this time to become healthier. Learn new things that can transform your life, and your reality beyond the lockdown and the pandemic.

This is a time for global transformation, which must start with you first.

Gandhi once said:

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

You don't know what you don't know. So when an expert crosses your path, keep an open mind and an open heart, as she/he may be the angel sent to SAVE YOUR LIFE. 

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