Dr. Michael Merzenich has an excellent program airing on PBS called Brain Secrets. There are a lot of great tips on it....you should check it out! Some of the tips revolving around physical activity to improve brain function are:
1. Get cardiovascular exercise - the brain needs a lot of blood and by exercising on a regular basis you increase collateral circulation to all parts of your body - including your grey matter!
2. Challenge your balance - slow movements, fast movements and static posture are all very important. Often when people start to feel like their balance is impaired, they stop challenging their balance. This is entirely incorrect - this is exactly when balance challenges are important. However, balance training needs to occur in a safe setting - perhaps at physical therapy or with someone close by to help steady.
3. Focus your attention
I love this picture of these two ladies working their balance because you can see their laser focus to maintain the position. Pilates is a mind body exercise method which can be done on a mat or in this case on the reformer. The reformer moves and thus is an unstable surface - an unstable surface - inherently challenges your balance. Furthermore, there is always at least one new exercise to do in a Pilates class and technique is always a big focus - I like to think of Pilates as a physical meditation where there is so much required of you, that you have to focus your mind fully!
4. Try something new - like cross country skiing or maybe learn how to play the accordion or to juggle. You are never too old to learn something new. Your brain is craving new experiences and practice. Practicing a new skill means your brain has to lay down new synapses or in other words new connections - cognitive reserve! Dr. Merzenich states that from thirty on we stop using our brain to its full function....as the saying goes, "Use it or lose it!"
Please let me know if this blog inspires you to challenge yourself - whether it is to start standing on one leg or to go to a Pilates reformer class or to learn a new skill...here's to USING IT AND NOT LOSING IT !!!!!