Article – Keys to a Young and Vibrant Brain!
Good news! After the age of 30, we’re programmed to lose around 4% of our muscle tissue every 10 years and after 40 years of age we start losing brain matter also. What? Okay, that isn’t the good news. But since I have your attention now, let’s get to the better part. Despite old science that spoke of our brains becoming like unbendable plastic with age, new science clearly demonstrates otherwise! Our brains, given the right stimulus and environment can remain malleable until we don’t need them anymore. In this month’s article, I plan to take you back in time. You will start again as an infant, curious as curious can be. I will then journey you all the way from young and curious child to crotchety forgetful old man. Along the way, note the influences coming from both environmental as well as social stimuli. Recognize how they continue to impact your brain.
As an infant to 3 years of age your brain is absolutely amazing. If you have ever watched any of the “Your Brain Matters” shows on KUAT, you know what I am talking about. The messaging going on and construction of new pathways literally looks like the birth of a solar system! It is absolutely incredible.
By the time you were born, you had 100 billion brain cells (neurons) in your possession waiting to make lasting connections, or synapses, with other neurons.1 By the age of two, you had about your max density (15,000 synapses per neuron) for the life of your brain at 1000 trillion of these individual connections!1 Life experiences based on environment, social interactions, nutritional intake, physical activity, sleep, and getting your hands and mouth on everything you possibly could continued to produce the personality, likes/dislikes, and other unique qualities you possess to present day.
By the age of 18, of the 1000 trillion individual pathways your brain had realized, only half of them remained1. This was largely the result of your brain pruning away connections in your early years that were weak because they didn’t get used much. You may have experienced some world travel while younger and been exposed to foreign language for example. However, that contact stopped when your parents flew back to the states and resumed everyday living. Your brain pruned some more.
Your brain continued to sharpen your focus by strengthening heavily used connections and getting rid of less used ones. As you continued on into early adult hood your young and very malleable brain started to become even more narrowed as letterman’s jacket was replaced with 3 piece suit and your first briefcase. At around 40 years of age you started to experience your brain beginning to age subtly at first with simply forgetfulness. You swore that someone kept moving your keys because you were certain of where you had left them. Long nights getting a project done and minimal exercise were beginning to dumb down your poor brain. Synapses continue to get pruned on top of the fact that now also brain cells were dying and naturally continued dying at a more rapid rate. 40 marked that progressive change biologically. The coffee and donut most mornings, skipping lunch to get more work done, and piling the plate at night because you worked hard and deserved it did not do your brain any good either.
Now you retire. You admire the watch that was given to you as a send-off. “It’s a wonder I can still tell time” you think to yourself. Reveling in never having to have a meeting with another person willingly again, you decide to head up country and spend your remaining days somewhere remote. Good bye social interaction and hello quiet. More brain cells die and more synapses stop getting stimulated that were in your working years with all of the job talk inside and outside of the office.
You get more and more cozy in your Lazy Boy and pretty soon it’s getting hard to even walk without losing your balance. “This is what it must be like to get old” you think to yourself. Meanwhile more death and dying of brain cells and more lights turned out on non-used synapses.
You get increasingly forgetful, anxious, agitated, and fearful as the environment around you becomes less familiar and your body starts to fail you even with simple daily activities such as standing up from your chair.
Whoa! Did you pick up on the factors that aged your brain? Remember when you opted for less sleep and more work? How about when you started moving less and eating more junk like your donuts and coffee for breakfast? Lastly, what kind of interacting did you engage in once you retired?
Science is clear on your brains ability to remain changing. Yes, synapses will be lost and yes brain cells will die. This is still a function of aging that no one has been able to stop yet. However, you can keep the neurons that you have and the communication between branches of them going strong.
Because so many of us are turning 50 in the next 15-20 years, science is heavily invested right now in discovering every possible means of keeping our brains vibrant. An article from the Science World Report from August 25th, 2014 for example read, “Cardiovascular Health Linked to Cognitive Changes as we Age”.2 A study in the journal SLEEP from July 1, 2014 speaks to evidence found by researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore relating amount of sleep and faster aging of the brain.3 Visit the United States Department of Agriculture website and you will find a whole page dedicated to nutrition and brain function, with particular attention to, you guessed it, the aging brain.4
So, if you read all the way to here, you clearly value what I’m sharing. For your knowledge I encourage you to check out the links I provided. And, above all, practice consistent application of all the components I shared. Stay active both through strength training and aerobic exercise. Eat for health and vitality. Keep social and find opportunities to be stretched out of your comfort zone from time to time. Play brain games. All of these elements will keep your brain looking and functioning like a young un well into your later years.
1- Fact Sheet on Stages of Brain Development
4- Nutrition and Brain Function
5-Exercise, Effect on Aging of Brain
Welcome New and Returning Clients
Roberta Koenig – referred by her husband Martin
Amanda Hummer – referred by Dr. Lin
Anthony Scaramella – referred by Tom Martinelli
Paul Simon – found us on Google!
Hartley Newkirk – joined after attending our open house in June.
Abbie Burton welcome back!
Refer a new client to BodyBasics and enjoy picking a fabulous prize off the referral rewards board!
This Month’s In Studio Challenge Is…
This month is all about the push up. Beginning September 1 and continuing to the 30th, join us in completing a maximum of 40 pushups by the end of the month. And, if that sounds too easy, see if you can double that in 30 days! Details can be found inside the studio on our Challenge Board or on our Facebook page, BodyBasics. Let’s all have fun with this bodyweight staple.
Painting Party! Saturday, September 20th 1pm-4pm
If you’ve set foot inside BodyBasics in the last couple of weeks, you have been even more inspired than usual because of the amount of motivation on poster paper all over the walls. You may also be wondering why we’re doing this. Simply, we want our walls to communicate the same level of motivation and inspiration we hope to bring to every training session you have with us. And, WE WANT YOUR HELP. So, between now and September 10th we are asking for you to give us, either through our Facebook page or in person, your most inspiring and motivating quotes. We will put all submissions on the walls for all to see. Then between September 11 – 16 you, along with the rest of us, will vote for your Top 5. We will compile votes and determine the Top 5 for permanence on our walls. September 20th we will be stenciling and painting them on the walls as a team and we would LOVE to have your company as well. Bring yourself and your inspiration and we will provide the supplies, healthy snacks and drinks.
Chi Running Clinic, Sunday, October 12th 9am-1pm
ChiRunning takes some principles from Tai Chi and applies them into a running system dedicated to efficient and reduced risk of injury running. If you are interested in a new approach to running join us for this clinic. For more infomation click here.
Cognitive Change Workshop, Saturday, October 25th 1pm-2:30pm
Come and meet guest presenter, Marianne Curtis,a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in a particular type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She will be providing us with strategies to help us deal with life’s little annoyances, like long lines, poor customer service, or bad drivers. She will also be providing her expert insight with other things more complex, like reaching an important fitness goal, keeping your cool with difficult co-workers, or reducing harmful behaviors. The workshop is free and we will provide some light snacks so you can concentrate on what you’re learning instead of your grumbling tummy. For more information on Marianne Curtis or her business, Hillman Curtis Counseling Services, click here.
Meet Ross Markwardt, one of the biggest characters to ever walk into BodyBasics. He has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy and was told there are risks associated with building strength and muscle. When he began training with Maureen in January of 2013, he had very poor posture which negatively affected his gait pattern. He also had been lifting weights at another facility that were far too heavy via gross compensations and resulted in a badly impinged shoulder.
Maureen started slowly with Ross, working on soft tissue release and gait retraining. He said, “I feel weaker since I’ve been working with you” She knows it is impossible to lose strength in only 4 sessions. Still, she feared losing him so she appealed to Ross’s sharp intellect. She sent him journal articles and videos that confirmed her philosophy and methodology. Once Ross had a better understanding of what they were trying to accomplish, he decided to put forth his best effort. For Ross, that’s easier said than done.
Growing up as the “weak kid” and believing that there wasn’t anything he could do about it; exercise had never been the highlight of his day. To bolster his self confidence, he decided to dress the part. Ross has an unequaled wardrobe of flashy workout attire and clever t-shirts that brings the studio to a standstill each time he walks in.
To date, Ross has more than doubled the weight he can do on the lat pull down and leg press with good form. His posture and gait have dramatically improved and he reports feeling more confident in his day to day activities as well as when he travels. He now enjoys walking his two dogs whereas before, he was too fearful of falling. Ross’s whole demeanor has brightened and he is much surer of himself. He says he will continue to dress sharply though, to bring smiles to anyone else that is currently struggling as he used to.
Ross, we are so proud of your many successes and more so because none of it has been easy. It is an absolute joy to watch your hard work pay off!
Teacher Supply Drive
Thanks to the generosity of all of you we supplied two of our clients who are teachers here in Tucson with much needed items for their classrooms.
Recipe – Chocolate Peanut-Butter Powerballs
These are a great, no cook, healthy, energy packed snack. Give them a try! You can use any tree nut and your choice of dried fruit.
I used pecans and dried cranberries, yum!
3/4 cup tree nuts
3/4 cup dried fruit
2 Tablespoons of peanut butter (all natural is recommended, be sure it has nuts, not the smooth kind)
3 Tablespoons 100% cacao (unsweetened chocolate bar)
Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend.
Form into balls (I used a tablespoon portion per ball)
Serve immediately or keep refrigerated.
Note: if mixture is too soft to form into balls, refrigerate for 30 minutes