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Fit Body=Fit Mind

Oct 1, 2014

Can’t remember where you parked the car or if you unplugged the coffee pot? Worried that as you age, your memory and cognitive skills will deteriorate? Never fear—a regular exercise routine will strengthen your brain as well as your muscles! New research shows that even older adults who are physically active have a reduced risk of developing many forms of dementia. No doubt about it, a program of regular exercise and healthy eating has immense benefits for the mind.

What’s the best type of fitness program for promoting brain health?

Different types of exercise positively affect the brain in different ways. What you eat also affects your brain health. Here are three scientifically proven lifestyle changes you can make that when combined together are the best way to sharpen those brain cells and protect against dementia.

Three Tips for Keeping Those Neurons Firing

1. Eat a nutritious, antioxidant-filled diet. Now is the time to change those unhealthy eating habits. Try to bump up your intake of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and good fats. The more vibrant the color of the plant food, the greater the amount of powerful disease-fighting antioxidants you are feeding your neurons (brain cells). What’s more, the fat you choose to eat also has a huge effect on your brain cells. Omega-3 fat, specifically the fish fat called docosahexanoic acid (DHA), is essential for healthy brain growth and development, as DHA makes up a large portion of the gray matter brain neurons. Because of this fact, DHA has taken on a critical role as a potential therapeutic intervention in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. What’s the best food source of DHA? Large cold water fish that swim in the deep oceans contain the highest amount of DHA as well as the other important omega-3 fish fat, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Some fabulous fish choices high in omega-3s and low in mercury include wild salmon, canned light tuna and catfish.

2. Daily cardio exercise. You are probably already aware that regular aerobic exercise is key for keeping your body lean and your cardiovascular system fit. What you might not know is that cardio exercise has also been shown to boost brain power by stimulating the formation of new brain cells, or neurons, and the connections between those cells, regardless of age. Regular exercise is thought to provide protection against age-related cognitive decline and possibly reduce risk of dementias. A program of regular aerobic exercise specifically benefits the brain’s domain of memory and learning. Recent evidence is shedding light on the mechanisms responsible for exercise’s ability to keep the brain fit. The increase in blood flow within the brain, changes in neurotransmitters, and increased production of brain-derived chemicals stimulates neurogenesis (new neuron growth).

3. Strength training. You’re never too old to see improvements in brain power with a program of regular strength training. That’s the findings from a recent study published in the prestigious medical journal the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study demonstrated that a regular program of strength training improves cognitive function in women aged 65 to 75 years old. What’s more, researchers showed that strength training also helps the wallet: The strength training group incurred fewer health care costs and had fewer falls than the subjects who were restricted to just balance and toning exercises.

Indeed, the brain is like a muscle—with fitness training it can be toned and sharpened. You can achieve your health and fitness goals with the help of Fitness Together Chapel Hill. Fitness Together Chapel Hill offers one-on-one sessions with experienced personal trainers who will develop exercise workouts tailored to your needs and goals. An important part of their program is Nutrition Together, which provides nutritional counseling to complement your exercise regimen. Let Fitness Together and Nutrition Together help you to heighten your mental acuity and keep your brain and the rest of your body in tip-top shape! Call us at 932-7303.


Schedule a complimentary fit evaluation so we can get to know you and your goals and build you a customized training program to reach them.