Posts Tagged ‘Exercise Good For Brain’

Start Shaping Up

August 19, 2014

IT’S TIME TO SHAPE UPshapeup

As a nation, our waistlines are growing. Today, over 63% of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese.

Unhealthy eating and not enough physical activity can lead to overweight and obesity, and an increased risk of developing a chronic disease such as some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Shape Up Australia is an initiative to help Australians reduce their waist measurements and improve their overall health and wellbeing. There are many everyday changes you can make to help you Shape Up and get on your way to a healthier lifestyle.


GETTING ACTIVE

Life can be busy, and it’s easy to think that there just isn’t enough time to be physically active.  But being physically active doesn’t mean you have to spend hours exercising each day or that you have to push yourself to the point of feeling exhausted.

There are great benefits to getting even a small amount of physical activity each day, both mentally and physically.  Being active gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, reduces the risk of depression and can help to prevent a range of chronic diseases.

You can start with small changes, like increasing the distance you walk by getting off the bus earlier or parking your car further away from the shops.  Gradually increase the amount of physical activity you do – it all adds up.  Aim for 30 minutes (or more) of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.

If you’re worried you don’t have the time, keep in mind that you don’t have to do your 30 minutes (or more) all at once – combine a few shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each throughout the day.  Those short bursts are just as effective as longer exercise sessions.

To get started, check out these physical activity tips or find activities in your local area using the activity finder.

GETTING PHYSICAL TIPS

Tips for being more physically active every day

  • The saying “no pain, no gain” is a myth.  Some activity is better than none, and more is better than a little.  But you don’t have to exercise to the point of collapse to get a health benefit.  Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Set a date for when you will start. Write the date down and stick to it.
  • Make time to be physically active and schedule it as you would an appointment.  The Shape Up activity planner can help you plan and track your activity.
  • Set short-term and long-term goals.  Make your goals specific, measurable and achievable.  Rather than a vague goal like “I will get fit”, try “I will walk every day for 10 minutes after meals” or “I will get off the bus/train two stops earlier than my usual stop”.
  • Build up gradually.  If you are starting a new activity or have been inactive for some time, start at a level that you can manage easily and gradually build up.
  • Choose activities that are right for you.  Do something that you enjoy or go for something different you’ve always wanted to try, such as walking, jogging, joining a team sport, taking a group fitness class, dancing, cycling or swimming.
  • Mix it up.  Consider changing your activities every so often to avoid becoming bored.
  • Plan physical activity with others.  This can help you stick to your plan and achieve your goals.
  • Do not give up before you start to see the benefits.  Be patient and keep at it.
  • HAVE FUN! Physical activity can make you feel good about yourself and it’s a great opportunity to have fun with other people or enjoy some time to yourself.

FINDING TIME TO GET ACTIVE

It can seem hard to find time for physical activity.  One solution is to look for opportunities to build as much physical activity into everyday activities as you can.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Rather than spend five minutes circling a car park looking for that “perfect space” right near the entrance, park five minutes away and spend that time walking instead.
  • If you arrive at a bus or tram stop early, why not make use of the time to walk to the next stop?
  • Walk rather than rest on escalators… it’s quicker so you’ll actually save time! (Or better still, use the stairs).
  • Work in the garden – get into some energetic gardening activities like digging, shifting soil and mowing the lawn to raise your heart-rate.
  • Clean the house! Activities like vacuuming, cleaning windows and scrubbing floors that raise your heart rate are all good examples of moderate intensity physical activity.
  • Park further away from work (or get off public transport a few stops early).  If you walk for 10 minutes to and from work, you’ll have done 20 minutes without even noticing.  Add a 10 minute brisk walk (or more!) at lunch time and you’ve met the guidelines for the day.

ACTIVITY INTENSITY

What is moderate intensity activity?

Moderate-intensity activity will cause a slight but noticeable increase in your breathing and heart rate.  A good example of moderate-intensity activity is brisk walking; that is, at a pace where you are able to talk comfortably, but not sing.  Moderate-intensity activity should be carried out for at least 10 minutes at a time.

What is vigorous activity?

Vigorous activity is where you “huff and puff”; where talking in full sentences between breaths is difficult.  Vigorous activity can come from such sports as football, squash, netball, basketball and activities such as aerobics, speed walking, jogging and fast cycling.

Note: If you are pregnant, have been previously inactive, or suffer from any medical conditions, it is recommended that you seek medical advice before commencing vigorous physical activity.

WHAT SHOULD I BE EATING

Eating a diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods every day helps us maintain a healthy weight, feel good and fight off chronic disease.

Best of all, healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard if you follow these seven golden rules:

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruit
  3. Watch how much you eat – even foods that are good for us, when eaten in large portions, can lead to weight gain
  4. Eat less processed food
  5. Eat regular meals – don’t skip meals – and always start the day with a healthy breakfast (e.g. a bowl of hi fibre cereal with sliced banana and low fat milk)
  6. Restrict your alcohol intake
  7. Remember that some foods are high in added fat, salt and sugar and so are best eaten only sometimes or in small amounts.  Examples include lollies, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, pastries, soft drinks, chips, pies, sausage rolls and other takeaways.

To help you eat well every day, check out these healthy recipes and snack suggestions, tips for staying on track when eating out, our guide to healthy eating on a budget, and tips for drinking to health.

Snack suggestions

  • Add fruit and yoghurt to low fat milk and blend them together to make a great tasting smoothie.
  • A slice of wholegrain bread or raisin toast with a healthy spread such as avocado or low-fat cream cheese, makes a filling, healthy snack.
  • A piece of fruit – like a banana or apple – can make a great “on the run” snack.
  • Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or packet of chips, try vegetable sticks with low-fat hummus.
  • An occasional handful of unsalted nuts or dried fruit makes a nutritious snack.
  • Grab a tub of natural low-fat yoghurt and add your own fruit.
  • Air-popped popcorn with a sprinkling of salt makes a great afternoon snack.
  • When the weather is hot, fruits such as oranges and grapes make delicious frozen snacks.

Other useful links:

Australian Dietary Guidelines www.eatforhealth.gov.au

Stay On Track When Eating Out Fact Sheet

Your Guide To Buying Fruit And Veg In Season Fact Sheet

Information sourced from this Government Website: http://www.shapeup.gov.au/start-shaping-up

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Exercise Helps Brain Growth

July 22, 2014

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Research into “neurogenesis”—the ability of certain brain areas to grow new brain cells—has recently taken an exciting turn. Not only has research discovered that we can foster new brain cell growth through exercise, but it may eventually be possible to “bottle” that benefit in prescription medication.

The hippocampus, a brain area closely linked to learning and memory, is especially receptive to new neuron growth in response to endurance exercise. Exactly how and why this happens wasn’t well understood until recently. Research has discovered that exercise stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5 that is released into the bloodstream while we’re breaking a sweat. Over time, FNDC5 stimulates the production of another protein in the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which in turns stimulates the growth of new nerves and synapses – the connection points between nerves – and also preserves the survival of existing brain cells.

What this boils down to in practice is that regular endurance exercise, like jogging, strengthens and grows your brain. In particular, your memory and ability to learn get a boost from hitting the pavement.  Along with the other well-established benefits of endurance exercise, such as improved heart health, this is a pretty good reason to get moving. If jogging isn’t your thing, there’s a multitude of other ways to trigger the endurance effect – even brisk walking on a regular basis yields brain benefits.

Now researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have also discovered that it may be possible to capture these benefits in a pill.  The same protein that stimulates brain growth via exercise could potentially be bottled and given to patients experiencing cognitive decline, including those in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“What is exciting is that a natural substance can be given in the bloodstream that can mimic some of the effects of endurance exercise on the brain,” said Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, of Dana-Farber and HMS and co-senior author of the research report with Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, chair of neurobiology at HMS.

In the new study, the research team artificially increased BDNF in the brains of mice by using a harmless virus to piggyback FNDC5 molecules through the bloodstream of the mice.  After seven days, researchers found a significant increase in BDNF in the hippocampus area of the mice brains – the brain area crucial for memory and learning.

“Perhaps the most exciting result overall is that peripheral delivery of FNDC5 with adenoviral vectors (i.e. a virus) is sufficient to induce central expression of BDNF and other genes with potential neuroprotective functions or those involved in learning and memory,” the authors said.

The research team cautions that since this is an animal study, it’s far too early to conclude that the same effect will work in humans, but the significant results of this study show promise for future research into delivering cognitive benefits to the human brain via a similar mechanism. Cognitive boost for suffers of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other debilitating diseases in the form of a brain-growth pill may not be too far off.

More immediately, neurogenesis research has provided yet another great reason to get up, get out and get moving.

The research report was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

You can find David DiSalvo on Twitter @neuronarrative and at his website, The Daily Brain.

Article sourced from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/10/13/how-exercise-makes-your-brain-grow/