Do It For Your Brain
Covid-19 seems to be affecting our lives everywhere we turn. Even the simple things that we may have taken for granted have either been severely altered or completely taken away from our daily routines. Gyms are closed, a lot of us are working from home, and social distancing has put a damper on friend time, which in turn has created a very isolated and sedentary lifestyle for many of us.
Sitting too much and not exercising our bodies and brain, can negatively effect us on multiple levels. Working out not only makes us stronger and increases metabolism, it also increases our mood levels in the brain. And, even though the brain may not technically be a muscle, physical exercise is a vital component in preventing mental decline. Here are three things you can do to keep your brain in sharp-smart-shape!
The brain controls your ability to think, breathe, walk, remember, see, hear, feel, and so much more. Without it, you're not living, only existing. Because of this, keeping your brain healthy and strong should be at the top of your to do list.
1. Work those muscles (without a gym)
"Physical exertion, in fact, is the only thing scientifically documented to improve brain health and function. While we can record associations between eating a healthy diet and having a healthier brain, the connection between physical fitness and brain fitness is clear, direct and powerful. People fail to appreciate how valuable muscle mass is to quality of life." - Reader's Digest
When we exert our bodies, it says to the brain, "I'm here, and I want to be alive." By exercising, we are keeping a vital connection to that part of our brain. So, whether you've gotten out of your workout routine due to gym closures or you simply haven't been putting exercise as a priority, there's a simple solution.
Let me introduce to you the TSC-90 Workout. It's known as the everyone anywhere workout. You don't need expensive, bulky equipment, and it only requires two twenty-minute at-home workouts a week. It eliminates any reason to make excuses.
TSC-90 is based on timed static contractions and each exercise is performed for 90 seconds. Because you aren't working through a dynamic range of motion, it allows you to be in control at all times, making it extremely safe.
The TSC-90 Workout is appropriate for all ages and fitness levels. This portable approach only requires a table, chair, phone timer, two foam yoga blocks, and a yoga belt in order to achieve a challenging workout. Here's how it works:
The first 30 seconds of each exercise is the warm-up phase where you will be using 50% of your effort
At the 30-second mark you will increase your level of effort to 75% for the next 30 seconds
Once you reach 60 seconds, you’ll increase to 90% of your strength
At 80 seconds you’re going to take it up to 100% of your effort, using your full capacity for the final 10 seconds
To learn more about how to perform the TSC-90 everyone anywhere workout, click here.
2. Learn Something New
Like many things in life, if they're not maintained properly, they can breakdown, become weak, or rust over time. The brain is no different, and although there are many tools and props that can keep it running smoothly, there's nothing like a good challenge to kick it into gear.
The white matter in your brain, called myelin, helps increase your ability to perform tasks. When you practice a new skill, it increases your myelin density. Learning new skills also stimulates the neurons in the brain, which forms new neural pathways, allowing electrical impulses to communicate more efficiently through them. When you put these two things together, you are able to learn more effectively and also prevent mental decline.
Puzzles, games, reading, or playing an instrument are all great ways to exercise our brains. However, the catch is that once any of these become easy or predictable, we are no longer exercising our brain sufficiently enough to truly prevent decline. We are simply getting really good at that one thing. Practicing the same song over and over again on the piano will allow you to perform it perfectly, but eventually it will no longer be pushing you outside of your comfort zone. The key is pushing yourself to learn something new. Forcing your brain to have to figure it out.
"The way that I think about it is, if you can get outside your comfort zone in some way every day, you're probably harnessing other real estate in the brain that you don't otherwise use very often. Do something that scares you every day! Whatever the metaphor is, whatever works, just do something different. Learn a new skill. I remember talking to these neuroscientists who said, 'Eat dinner with your left hand tonight if you're right-handed. It's change that builds resiliency. You need the change.'" -Dr. Sanjay Gupta
3. Make time for people in your life
We are social creatures by nature and socialization offers many benefits to our well-being, and makes us feel good. When we socially interact, our bodies produce an organic chemical called, dopamine. This chemical travels through important pathways in our brain as a neurotransmitter. The dopamine signals several functions throughout the brain such as pleasure, movement, memory, and attention.
Another powerful way to nourish the brain is to practice empathy and kindness. Empathy taps into a part of the brain that triggers mirror neurons to fire. Connecting with people on this level requires you to feel what they feel, therefore tapping into a different part of the brain's resources.
Human interaction is more important than ever these days. Social distancing is causing too much isolation and loneliness, which can cause depression and mental decline. We need to be able to look into another human's eyes, even if it is through Zoom or Facetime.
"Having a diverse social network can improve our brain’s plasticity and help preserve our cognitive abilities. In the midst of a pandemic, when our contact with people is limited, this qualifies as not-so-good news. But it’s a good reminder that “social distancing” is a bit of a misnomer. The key is to figure out ways to be socially active while staying physically distant. Your brain will thank you for it." - Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Keep that brain in tip-top shape
I've had people ask me, "If you had to choose between your brain no longer functioning or your body no longer functioning, which would you choose?" First of all, I really don't like this question, but if I had to choose I would choose to keep my brain functioning for as long as possible. I would rather be bed ridden and able to communicate, share stories with my kids, and experience everything around me.
This pandemic has given us a perfect opportunity to learn new things, push ourselves on different levels, and connect with parts of our brain we didn't know were there. Exercising regularly, learning a new skill, and connecting with friends is the perfect combination to keep your brain healthy and happy.
Sights, sounds, touch, and taste are experiences that allow you to feel, which connect and nourish the brain. Ideally, taking a socially distanced walk with a good friend, listening and sharing, will allow you to get your body moving while practicing empathy. And remember, physical exertion is the most powerful way to sharpen the brain. For the complete TSC-90 instructional exercise videos, click here to become a FREE member.