Mental and Physical Fitness (and how they’re linked)

Today we will cover why fitness, both mental and physical, are required to have a healthy brain.

Remember a few weeks ago I stated that if you sit all day and don’t move your body that you start to become less of a genius?

When we don’t exercise – it can decrease the volume of our brain and puts us at risk for dementia and heart disease.

There is a direct link between exercise and the brain. Those who do not exercise often feel depressed stressed out, have negative thoughts about themselves and have a hard time staying focused.

For me, I can tell a huge difference in my mood and focus if I have not worked out in a while. I get so crabby that I can’t even stand myself!  But the moment I get up and do something, that switch flips and ahhhh I feel so much better!!

I also feel so exhausted if I don’t exercise and have noticed that if I do a quick workout in the morning, my energy and focus levels are high for the whole day.  Or I get an energy boost if I fit in a quick workout in the afternoon.

Let’s look at the best exercises for your brain!

Strength/Resistance Workouts

If you are new to working out, start with bodyweight or resistance band exercises, then transition to dumbbells or kettlebells and if you want to challenge yourself with barbell exercises.

Not only are these great for the brain, but they build muscle, boost your metabolism and help you to burn fat and strengthen your bones; all which are necessary to live a long healthy life.

The key is to not get complacent with the weight, once you can lift a weight for eight reps with ease; it’s time to increase the weight. Otherwise, you won’t build much muscle.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) or Burst Exercises

These exercises are done with body weight, dumbbells or kettlebells and are usually shorter in time because of their intensity. For example, you can take four exercises: Lunges, pushups, air squats and burpees, do each one for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds, and go four rounds.

Download a Tabata app on your phone and set up your time intervals.

Lunges 20 seconds work – 10 seconds rest

Pushups 20 seconds work – 10 seconds rest

Air Squats 20 seconds work – 10 seconds rest

Burpees 20 seconds work – 10 seconds rest

Repeat four times

Over time you will be able to increase the work time to make it a bit more challenging.

Extra Movement

Movement is so important as we discussed a few weeks ago. Our bodies are designed to move not sit. Ideas to getting extra movement in every day are:

  • Leisure walking
  • Get up from your desk every 90 minutes and walking around
  • Take the stairs instead of elevator
  • Park farther from the door in parking lots and walk
  • Dance
  • Jump on a trampoline

Get creative and find ways to get in extra movement each day.

Now let’s cover mental fitness!

Our brains like a challenge, and if they are not, we start to lose our capability to learn, lose our memory skills, and we don’t feel as sharp as we once did! As we age, we don’t want others referring to us as the crazy old fart that went senile and can’t remember $h!t!

We need to take our focus off of mindless activities such as binge-watching TV and use this time that will benefit our mental fitness.

Meditation

You know when your body is tired and you think you’re ready for bed, yet once you lay down, your brain doesn’t shut off?

Meditation is a great way to help the brain quiet down. I love the app called Calm; they have many guided meditations for every situation you can imagine.  Once you are ready for bed, turn on the guided meditations and begin your new relaxing bedtime habit.

Meditation is also great when you are feeling anxious, upset or stressed out. Start with 5 minutes of meditation and over the next few days and weeks, start adding more time. You’ll be shocked at how this positively affects all areas of your life!

Put together puzzles or play games that flex your strategy skills such as cards, checkers, chess, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku.

There are many online options and apps for the phone to challenge your brain. Just do a quick Google or app search to begin sharpening your mind!

Reading

So many people do not utilize actual reading anymore since there are now audio books. But I challenge you to pick up a real book and get lost in the story! Reading is an excellent way to keep the mind sharp and thinking!

Learn Something New

Take up a new hobby, learn a new trade, learn how to salsa dance, or learn how to sing and play an instrument. These are all great mind-building skills!

There are so many ways we can implement both physical and mental fitness. Get creative and find ways to sharpen your mind with activities that you love and make you happy!

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