Your brain moving a little slower than it used to? Exercise might be the cure.
It’s cold here. It’s raining here (?!). None of us San Diegans are used to this and we’re all moving a little bit slower, waiting for the (hopefully) inevitable turn in the weather that we’re paying for. But what if—what if—it’s not just the weather? What if it’s—gulp—you?
Well, La Jolla Sports Club has some good news for you.
Neurodegeneration -> Effortful Learning -> Neuroplasticity
Boom! Right off the bat, you just got smarter! As you’ve most likely put together, neurodegeneration is the unfortunate and natural decline of brain functions that accompanies aging. But guess what Science (as reported in the January 2019 ACE Fitness Journal; Cody Sipe, PhD) has found? That effortful learning, a version of which combines mental exercises and physical movement, can help accelerate neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt to new challenges. Even more exciting from a study from Zivari Adab, et al. 2018, is that certain types of effortful learning can actually increase the amount of white and gray matter in the brain. Take a minute and soak that in: You can not only halt the negative effects of aging, you can actually reverse them! What!
Phew, you’re finally on board, so, What should I be doing?
Dual tasking in the fitness world combines physical activity with cognitive exercises. According to ACE, preliminary studies suggest that ‘dual tasking may be more beneficial than the sum of the activities’ separate gains.’ Our ability to dual task diminishes with age, so what better way to beef up your brain than brush up on your espańol while sweating? When we work out, we increase blood flow to the brain, which helps remove waste products and deliver good juju (technical term). Going back to ACE, ‘Aerobic exercise bathes the vital tissues of the brain with oxygen, glucose and other nutrients. Combining aerobic exercise and cognitive challenges increases the rate at which the brain receives these necessary ingredients.’ Seems like a no-brainer 😬
A lot of the effortful learning requires two people, so if you’re lucky enough to be working with one of our award-winning La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainers, bring it up in your next session. You might even stump them, which is always fun.
If that’s not your style, grab one of your gym buddies and start working on each other. Related sidenote: If you don’t have a gym buddy, try to find one, as a buddy has been shown to significantly increase your enjoyment in the gym and also the accountability outside of it. Once you have your buddy in tow, pick a cardio-driven exercise and turn on the brain juice. One example is doing multi-directional lunges (ex. forward / backward / sides) with assigned numbers, changing directions when your partner calls out that number. Too easy? Assign a country or historical figure to each direction. Another cardio option would be complex math equations on a treadmill, amping it up a bit by walking sideways or involving intervals. Burpees and the Pythagorean Theorem? Oh, yes. Basically, you want to choose a mentally-challenging task while your heart is pumping and delivering the aforementioned good juju to your brain.
More of a solo person? Not a problem—there are approximately 1,000,000 brain-game apps out there. We here at La Jolla Sports Club like Lumosity, but check these out and see what you like. The options are limitless, just aim to challenge yourself, both internally and externally.
OK, that’s it for us this month, we’ll see you in March when we’re (hopefully) all a little drier.
// Your friends at La Jolla Sports Club