New article on Medium: You are in spring training; what are you training for?

 

Solving the mystery_ what’s the right way to exercise for your body and the real results you want, Part 1 (6)

Rethink exercise for your brain

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Rethink:  If you think of exercise as something to ‘just do’, like a task to check off on your long list of things to get done in a day, you might be missing out on the brain benefits.  Here is how to raise the quality of the time you exercise, to benefit your brain and your body.

Are you starting to notice small slips in your memory and less ability to focus? Maybe you have heard how exercise can help with brain function, especially as you age.  However, because our society has a very broad definition of what counts as exercise, how do you know if you are exercising in a way that will maximize your brain benefits. It turns out that what you do when you exercise can be the deciding factor for how your brain benefits. Let’s rethink exercise for the brain so you get the most from every move.

When you are under mental stress, your body fatigues because stress is preparing it for movement. Like a car that is sitting in traffic, your body is revved up, using up energy,  because it is ready to move but not moving. This increases the work for your body while putting healing and repair on hold until you are more relaxed mentally.  Movement is the antidote to the stress response. This is why exercise can be so effective for stress reduction.

But exercise is not always effective for reducing stress because often your brain is still working when you exercise. When you multitask your exercise time in an effort to just get it done, it reduces the effects of exercise on the body and on the brain as well. A recently published article found that when workers took a mental break while on an exercise break at work, their brains functioned much better than those whose brains continued working during exercise.

While exercising, take a break mentally by putting aside any work or personal problems to give you the most benefit from the time you are investing in exercise. This study, like so many, reinforces that the brain and body are an inseparable two-way street. When you consider what is happening in both, you get more of what you want from exercise for your health and well-being. It’s a whole-person recharge because your body gets back to the state in which it can heal and repair and your brain get a memory and focus boost.

Take a moment right now to get up, stretch, dance, walk, move —without multitasking.  If you are thinking you cannot take the time away from work to exercise, consider the return on your time investment. Your work productivity could increase and in the end get more done when you return from your exercise break.  If your mind wont let go once you start to move, give it something to focus on in the present moment, such as being grateful for what your body can do right now or how good it feels to simply move and not try to accomplish anything.  

Bottom Line: You hold the key to exercising for your brain. Move your body with present moment attention and raise the quality of your exercise time to give your body and your brain more instant benefits.

Enjoy Exercising WELL
Janet

P.S. One of the three principles of Exercising WELL™ is presence.  If you have been told to use distraction to “get through” exercise or to multitask to get to a step goal, it’s time to start Exercising WELL.

How strength training activates your well-being

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In the last blog, I highlighted how your strength is not from your muscles, but from your brain and nerves that connect it to your muscles.  It turns out, that ‘waking up’ of nerve fibers activates your whole body and your well-being in very unique ways.   Let’s take a look.

Your muscles. Your muscles are made up of lots of muscle fibers. Imagine each of those fibers like rowers on a boat; the more people rowing, the more strength and power the boat has. If the exercise is with light resistance, only a small amount of muscle fibers is activated. If the weight is heavy, more muscle fibers are called into action. As your muscles get fatigued during an exercise, your nervous system will call upon more muscle fibers to help out.

Your bones. Every day your body is both making and losing bone cells. Around age thirty we seem to start losing more bone cells than we are making. The rate at which that happens depends on how often you are telling your bones to make new cells. When muscles contract, they tug on your bones. When that tug happens, it’s like your muscles are tapping on the shoulder of your bones, saying, ‘hey, stay strong, I need you!’ This sets in motion the immediate signal to your bones telling them to make new cells. Your muscle contraction is what slows the loss of bone. The stronger the contraction, the greater the trigger for new bone cells.

The catalyst:  How often do you hear advice to get enough calcium for your bones and protein for muscles? Well, if you put all the ingredients for a cake into a bowl, but never put it into the oven, would you end up with a cake? No. Those ingredients need a catalyst, heat, to make them work together to produce a cake. Getting enough of the right nutrients is only part of building strong muscles and bones. Strength training is the catalyst that makes the nutrients work for your bones and muscles! 

Your metabolism. When you challenge your muscle fibers, they go through changes like tiny tears in the fibers and use of the fuel stored right in muscles. It takes them about 24-48 hours to repair and refuel after that use. As they repair from those small tears, they gain strength. While they are refueling and repairing, they are more ‘metabolically active’. That means they are burning more calories for a day or two after you do strength training—up to about 15% more!

Your blood sugars. When your muscles contract, they use fuel stored in your muscle fibers and in your blood system. The fuel is glucose (sugar) and fats from your blood system. Each time you contract your muscles, they are ‘soaking up’ blood sugar and using it. That means that sugar is not hanging out in your blood, affecting every other cell in your body. Because strength training causes the longer-term repairs I mentioned, it also causes longer-term use of blood sugars for hours after you finish. This is why strength training is one of the best ways to manage high blood sugar levels.

And more… There are many more cascades of real-time changes that happen each time you perform strength-training exercises that are similar to those that happen with cardio. For example, brain chemicals are released that improve a sense of optimism, focus, and calm. Nitric oxide is released which helps keep blood vessels relaxed, regulating blood pressure and reducing strain on blood vessel walls that could lead to cardiovascular disease.

Unique benefits, unique barriers. These are just the highlights of the unique and powerful Real-time Results of strength training. So why are 80% of people not doing it regularly? If you are one of them, stay tuned.  Next week we will look at the specific road blocks to motivation to strength train.

Bottom Line: Your brain signals your muscles to contract, pulling on bones, and creating movement.  This simple progression of events, when done in a way that is challenging for each one of the steps in the process, creates the catalyst for strengthening and maintaining your bone, muscle, and metabolism.

How can you start this domino effect of health and well-being for yourself today? 

B-WELL

Janet

 

 

Why be Fueled by Facts?

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Why invest even five minutes a day to get the facts? Isn’t fitness petty straightforward? You know what to do, you just need to find the time or the motivation to do it. Well, what I have learned over the past thirty years of talking to people about exercise is, it’s often not a lack of time or motivation that gets in the way. What gets in the way are the myths that have become infused into our ideas about how to exercise and what it means to be fit. Once those myths are cleared away, uncovering how doable and life enhancing fitness can truly be, exercise becomes a resource for enjoying more of life every day.

If you enjoy reading blogs or listening to podcasts, you will love the format of this online course. The information is condensed, because I am pretty sure you don’t want to waste a lot of time listening to “filler” information. Each video session of the 30-day course takes less than five minutes and can be viewed on any device.

Because I know how easy it is to lose track of courses and programs you sign up for, we have made this easy to complete. Each day for the month of February, you will receive an email with the link for the topic of the day. Simply click the link wherever you read email and you are taken right to the video.

A new session of Fueled by Facts, my FREE online course starts February 1, 2018.

Click here to enroll—the rest is easy! Enrollment closes at midnight on January 28.

Enrollment Closes Today!

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Today is the last day to join the people who are starting their new year with a different kind of cleanse. Fueled by Facts is my FREE online course that clears away the myths about exercise so you can discover the energy and motivation of fact-based fitness. Enrollment for the January 2018 session will closes today!

This course is designed to be doable. It takes little as five minutes a day to complete, with daily email reminders containing a link to the video of the day so you are sure to complete the course.

Plus …

  • resource links for further learning
  • powerful coaching questions to personalize the learning
  • an interactive comments section to share comments and ask questions
  • a 10% discount on Simply Strong*, my online course on how to strength train

The next enrollment date for a new session of Fueled by Facts will be announced at a later time.  Now is your chance! Click here to start your year Fueled by Facts!

*10% off coupon must be redeemed within 30 days of completing Fueled by Facts