One of the highlights of our October AmaWaterways cruise was the 11-mile, 2 1/2 hour guided bike ride along both the west and east sides of the river. We had two fluent English-speaking guides who took about 8 of us on an easily-managed bike adventure (everyone else was either part of the walking or beer tasting tour). We started our ride along the Rheingarten, a riverside park where pedestrians and bicyclists were out in force on a sunny (yet cold) weekend day. At first, we were riding fairly quickly, but when I said I wanted to stop for more photos, the guides were quite amenable. This I appreciated, or I would have gotten cranky.
We pedaled past the Chocolate Museum, which my sister noticed. Yes, we went back later to learn the history of chocolate, though we didn’t stop in the museum café to eat any of their 9,866 chocolate items. Um, I have no idea of the exact number, but I sure saw lots of options.
Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city, with over 1 million people, 45,000 of whom are university students. One fact I really liked was discovering that 18% of the inhabitants come from over 180 nations. Hmmm, probably easy to find a correlation between that and the reputation Cologne has for being a major cultural center.You can take a bike tour of Cologne, Germany as part of a Rhein River cruise w/ @AmaWaterways?… Click To Tweet
Though I prefer old buildings (castles are my thing, perhaps related to my Medieval Studies BA), I found the three “cranes” interesting. Two of them are office buildings, while the one with the balconies is apartments. Who wouldn’t want riverfront living, even if it’s shaped like a giant piece of machinery, eh?
Our guides stopped for a while on the Rodenkirchener Bridge so we could take pictures and drink water. When you’re on a bike, it feels like the vista is really expansive. We could see barges and pleasure boats going north and south beneath us. When we were onboard our ship, the Ama Prima, it always felt like we were moving at a leisurely pace, yet when standing on a bridge above the ships, they appeared to be speeding along.
On the east side, away from the main part of the city, we felt like we were in the woods for a bit, as we rode by a fairly extensive campground. It’s probably jam-packed in summer, though we saw just a few campers in October. Perfect time to travel if you own a jacket and like to go when the city is not so crowded. From the east side, with its tennis and soccer (call it football if you want to sound truly cosmopolitan) fields, we had unimpeded views of St. Martin’s Church, the Cathedral, the Innenstadt, and Hohenzollern Bridge, which is where the Locks of Love are, and which leads to the Dom Platz.
After we crossed the bridge, our guides asked if we could figure out why security guards were preventing people from walking on the plaza. We had no idea. As it turns out, the Cologne Philharmonic is just below the plaza, and when they are performing, they keep people off the plaza to prevent extraneous sounds. So the floor is also the roof.
Near the end of the ride we stopped to admire the Cathedral. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visible from fairly high up, which presented some issues during World War II. According to our guides, the Allies respected the history and cultural significance of it, so they intentionally avoided bombing it to ruins. Another story is that the pilots left it (for the most part) intact because it was an easy landmark for bombers to use to calculate their various targets. As well, the guides said that church representatives removed all the glass from the windows, which lessened the destruction from the bombs. On a cheerier note, the Cathedral was the tallest building in the world until the Eiffel Tower came along in 1887.
We got back to the Ama Prima just in time to change for dinner (and an impromptu performance of “Thriller” by moi for all the passengers). No muscle soreness after 11 miles, either. Or should I say 18 kilometers, as that sounds even more impressive?!
Alexandra Williams, MA
photos by me
Have you read our post about all the castles and riesling in Rüdesheim yet? Better yet, have you subscribed to us?
When I think of international sightseeing bus excursions, I usually focus on all the time spent sitting on the bus, which I equate with enforced passive activity (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Yet yesterday’s local excursion helped me realize that sightseeing can really mean quite a bit of walking, which is definitely exercise.
Once in Los Angeles, we first drove east toward downtown to visit Farmers Market, then we took Venice Blvd. west all the way to Venice Beach. We spent two hours at Farmers Market and The Grove (my son seems to like this place that feels like a combination of upscale shopping and Universal Studios), then another 2-3 hours walking on the boardwalk and pier at Venice Beach.
By the time we got back in the car to head home, I had logged about 6 miles on my Charity Miles app, a fantastic FREE app that logs your walk, run or bike ride, then donates money to the charity of your choice (from their extensive list) based on the number of miles you completed. Win Win Win.
The next time you go on a sightseeing junket, near OR far, download the app or check your fitness tracker to see how much you’ve walked. If you’re like me, and feel like all you did was sit all day, you may be surprised. Six miles definitely counts as exercise. And my feet were ready for the car at about 5.5 miles, so that’s another sign that I was moving and logging those steps. Though next time maybe I should pay one of those strapping fellows who work out at Muscle Beach to carry me that last half mile.
When did you get a surprise when you last went traveling? Read about one of our unusual experiences. We survived. Barely: Hiking with the Leeches
Alexandra Williams, MA
IDEA Fitness Journal has contracted with me for the past few years to cover the convention, with a specific eye toward food and group fitness. Who would say no to that? Not I. One of the benefits of attending is that I get a first look at the upcoming trends in the industry. I also get to write about those trends. One of my articles is already posted over at IDEA, so I hope you’ll read it: Diversity and Collaboration Mark an Outstanding Event.5 trends from the IDEA Fitness & Nutrition Convention that may affect U. #FitFluential… Click To Tweet
Five trends I thought might interest you are as follows:
Dance, dance, dance – More styles were present than I recall in the past 35 years of this convention: Stomp (stepping), Bollywood, Dancing with the Stars-inspired ballroom, military and martial arts dance fusion, South African, and even a combo dance and Step workout. People our age are rediscovering the joys of dance and I expect to see clubs and studios offering more depth to their dance programming.
Celebrity-based workouts – Probably due to social media breaking down barriers, it’s now possible to work out and even chat with some of your favorite celebrities. Louis van Amstel of DWTS, Jillian Michaels of Biggest Loser, Cassy Ho of Pop Pilates – all were there sharing info on their latest workout programs and leading classes. Look for more celebrities crossing the barrier from on-screen to in-person.
Link between nutrition and behavior – This year had a summit track inside the wider convention – the first-ever IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit. For a full day, experts from places such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus came to speak about the link between food and behavior change. Though it may seem obvious in hindsight, it’s groundbreaking to see researchers, medical doctors and health coaches/ psychologists come speak to thousands of fitness professionals. I expect to see further strengthening of the ties between these groups.
Link between food and fitness – Again, this may seem obvious, but for many years the healthy food people had their conventions and made no mention at all about the link between eating and exercise. So the fitness world went to the food people and invited them to speak and exhibit at the fitness convention. Not only are the healthy food vendors now coming to where the fitness pros are, the fitness pros themselves are now getting additional certifications in nutrition. Your instructors and trainers have more knowledge than ever about eating healthfully.
Boomers are different from older adults – At past conventions, people over 50 were sort of lumped together at lectures and workshops. Of course, the needs and goals of an active 50-year-old tend to be different than those of a frail 85-year-old. And this year, more sessions than ever delineated between the groups. My sister was one of the presenters on Boomer Fitness. We are the first generation to intentionally embrace (to a degree) exercise as a way to to stay healthy post-college. I believe that more clubs will be offering demographic-based programming, especially for the Boomer market.
Look for an upcoming post from my sis about the trends she spotted at the convention.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Do Smart People Have Smart Dogs?
Who wouldn’t mind an easy way to increase your health and fitness levels, reduce stress, AND improve your brain? Hint: the answer involves a lick, leash, and lots o’ love. Yup, be a dog owner.
Did you know that dog owners are likely to have lower blood pressure, more active social lives, fewer heart attacks, and totally increased guilt levels when you don’t walk them. I made up that last “benefit.” All the other results (and more) are supported by science.Dog owners are likely to have lower blood pressure, more active social lives, fewer heart… Click To Tweet
As our long time readers know, I am a two dog person (see My Naughty Dog Story, though it may not be the highlight of dog ownership come to think of it….) Just added two kittens to the household as well, for balance’s sake. I am balancing my dogs’ perception that I am the most exciting, beloved, wonderful human ever to grace the planet with the cats’ attitude that I exist to adjust their crowns. Keeps me confidently humble.
Prized Pooch and a Prize for Your Pooch
By the way, stick around to the end of this post because one of you is going to win a prize for your pooch. More on that in a minute or about 7 minutes in dog years.Want to win a prize for your pooch? Enter our giveaway #mysmartdog @ProPlan #ad @PurinaPro Click To Tweet
Another thing long time readers of our blog probably noticed is that I am totally jazzed about the ways that exercise confers to humans better memory, cognition, and brain volume. What??!! You missed those posts? Get smarter right here and now by taking a gander at the following (right after you finish this post).
It’s true that people who own dogs tend to be more active. Makes sense since we tend to walk our dogs and play with them. Did you know that dogs also enhance our mental wellbeing? Canine fit fact – dogs improve our mood, decrease depression, and increase happiness.
Our Dogs Make Us Smarter; Can We Make Our Dogs Smarter?
But let’s turn that around for a moment. Can we help make our dogs smarter and happier? I know, I know. You already own the SMARTEST, BEST, HAPPIEST dog in the world. Except you don’t, because I do. Wanna see pictures of my smart dogs?
Back to the matter at
hand paw — unless you’ve been out walking your dog in the wilderness for a decade where no wifi exists, you know that what we eat and what we do impacts our mental and physical health. Did you know that the same is true for dogs? Scientists at Nestle Purina have been studying aging in pets for more than a decade and discovered that nutrition can positively impact a dog’s cognitive health. Who knew? I had not. Based on their research results, Purina Pro Plan did two things:
Well actually Purina and Dognition did three things, as they also sponsored this post. Bark alert! Full disclosure that I partnered with Dognition and Purina to bring you this info. Of course I said yes, because what dog lover doesn’t want to combine food and fun for a smarter, healthier pooch?
Anyway, as part of the partnership, dog owners who purchase Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult or Adult 7+ dry dog food at select pet specialty retailers can receive a FREE Dognition Assessment code, a $19 value, with proof of purchase. Find out more here: Dognition/ BRIGHTMIND OOooorr, as I mentioned earlier, you might WIN that code free. Keep reading.
Canine Fun Fact
Let’s end this dog tale with a tail wag after another Canine Fun Fact: If like Kila, your dog ever did something naughty, you might get “that look” that seems to say “Oops, sorry, I am so regretful.” Except dogs don’t live in regret. That sad face with head down and ears back?? — your dog is playing you. A study found that owners who think their dogs feel guilty don’t scold them as much.
Told you dogs were smart. Now go play, instead of getting played. Oh, and learn enough to stay ahead of your dog by checking out this infographic and entering our giveaway. So barkalicious!
Comment Disclosure: Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.
GIVEAWAY! If you want to win free access to Dognition (believe me, you do want to dig around in this site!) then enter a comment below about an activity your dog loves. If you don’t own a dog, why not? I’ll be selecting the winner on or before July 30, 2016.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Purina Pro BRIGHT MIND. The opinions and text are all mine.
Just as we were either trying to A: train the dogs to run alongside us as we rode the bike paths (hahahahahahaha. Just kidding. They’d run off at the first hint of a squirrel, rabbit, lizard, piece of fuzz); B: convince them of the benefits of sitting around all day, looking at pictures of the outdoors (and kitties); or C: teach them to sit in our bicycle baskets, along came SolvIt Products with the offer of a few free bicycle trailers.
As we’d like to think we are smarter than our dogs (which may or may not be true, once you figure out who’s doing the work on the bike rides), we said yes to their offer and promptly ordered the aluminum medium size for Alexandra and the large size for Kymberly (okay, technically, for our dogs – not to imply that Kymberly is large), as Kymberly has two dogs.
As soon as mine arrived in the mail, I got so excited, I immediately… called my 22-year-old so he could come assemble it, Which he did. In about 20 minutes. Then he had to give me instructions on how to latch and unlatch it from my bike. So when you order your trailer, be sure to also order a smart young person (and a bike hitch).
Our beloved rescue dog Liberty came to us on July 4th a few years ago (hence her name). She loves to get outside. So do I. One of her all-time favorite spots is Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara. Normally I drive her there, then we walk. Seems counterintuitive, though, doesn’t it? Now I can just put her in the bike trailer, and we can ride together along the bike path over to the beach for our walks.
The one minor glitch? “Just put her in the bike trailer.” Turns out you can’t just show her the new toy and expect her to hop in. I used up a lot of her preferred Zuke’s treats enticing her into the trailer. She probably thought she was training ME to give her more treats. In any case, we both love exercise and our beach walks. And it’s the perfect time of year for bike rides. With a helmet, water for Liberty and a few treats. For her, not for me.
It’s easy to get started. No special skills or equipment are required, though we do suggest good walking shoes, especially for women over 50. Anyone else notice more feet issues with each passing mile? Also, walking can stave off many diseases, especially depression just by strolling or striding out. You can be social (walking with friends or family) or contemplative (when walking alone). The risk of injury is low low low so go go go. We also mentioned “FREE,” right?
Walking as exercise, power walking, dog walking, even moseying can all help you to:
The rumors are true that you can lose weight with a consistent, well planned walking program. Take a look at our post “Can Walking Really Get You Fit?” which answers the question “how can you lose weight by walking?” You’ll get super clear specifics that will help you determine your pace and duration depending on your goals.
Also watch our short video on ways to amp up your walking. You’ll get some surprising tips, progression methods, and pretty scenery (plus a peek at the world’s cutest dog EVER in the universe for all entirety. Feel free to totally agree or leave a comment below).
Become an even MORE proficient walker when you consider these 7 Steps to Walk Better. Read this companion piece if you want to discover more about yourself.
What if you don’t walk to lose weight? What if you simply want to age actively, move comfortably, travel and explore the world by improving your walking abilities? Perfect!
Did you know that people who enjoy life have faster walking speeds than their more pessimistic counterparts? Or that walking can be as effective as running? Good thing, as my knees put a moratorium on me running, but I walk every day. (Thanks to my motivators, Kila and Sydney. Barkalicious).
For a few motivating Fun Fit Facts about walking, take a look at our post Sneak in Stats When Walking Briskly for Calorie Burn.
If all this walking for exercise gets you sore, find out how to minimize muscle aches in our post on preventing calf soreness after walking, especially uphill.
If you are wondering about the best and most effective technique for getting started on cardio equipment, take a look at our post and video on the Right and Wrong Ways to Work Out on Treadmills and Stairclimbers.
Lastly, are you among the many who consider strapping on light wrist or ankle weights when you head out for a power walk? Then FOR SURE find out about the pros and cons here: Use Weights While Walking: Yes or No?
Small steps lead to big changes! Even a 5 minute walk triggers a bunch of benefits. That’s partly why we’ve written so many posts on this subject. So open up your front door and get your groove on as you move on!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
ACTION: Walk the Talk by subscribing to our blog and accessing your bonus “5 Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.” Click this link to see what’s on the other side that will help you be more confident, capable, and comfortable in your midlife body.
Are midlife exercisers safe to exercise in the heat? Is it enough to simply stay hydrated? What are the dangers (and solutions) for active boomers who face high temperatures and humidity? Are you thinking yet of the Poindexter song, “Hot, Hot, Hot?”
Summer is here. We can all go outside and run (or walk, in our case). In the heat. And possibly where the humidity is high enough to make your body look like it’s crying. But wait, we’re not saying avoid outdoor exercise. Say nay to that. We want to encourage you to go outside and be active. Of course we always support going inside to group fitness classes, especially when the room has AC! But stay hydrated.Are midlife exercisers safe to exercise in the heat? Click To Tweet
Often we’ll put sunblock on, then a hat and head outside (Head. Hat. Get it?), but leave behind a water bottle because we won’t be gone long, or it’s a hassle to carry, or or or. Be well-prepared especially if you aren’t well-hydrated. We won’t lecture you (but we’d like to) if you don’t take along your water bottle, but we WILL share some definitions and information. Then you can know when you’re in harm’s way or safe to beat the heat.
Euhydration – normal hydration. Your body is taking in the same amount of fluid as it’s expending. In a hot environment, that’s about 3500 milliliters (compared to 2500 on a normal day).
Hypohydration – a reduction of body water as the body progresses from a euhydrated to a dehydrated state.
Dehydration – when water losses due to sweat are not offset by water intake. Read Water: Chilled, Stirred or Straight from the Pool Post-Exercise? if you wonder whether to drink cold or tepid water:
Hyponatremia – abnormally low plasma sodium concentrations. When more fluids are consumed than are lost, excess water accumulates relative to sodium. Danger, danger.When exercising in heat, is it better to drink a lot at once, or go w/ lots of sips spread over… Click To Tweet
Exertional Heat Exhaustion – the body’s heat production exceeds its ability to dissipate heat, and core temperature rises to >104°. Symptoms can include excessive sweating, nausea, dizziness, and headache.
Exertional Heatstroke – more severe than heat exhaustion. In addition to the above symptoms, heatstroke sufferers can also experience a gradual impairment of consciousness, difficulty concentrating, sweat-soaked, pale skin (these symptoms are different from classic heatstroke), and even death.
* Rather than taking sips of water over the course of your outdoor exercise, drink a larger volume all at once. You’ll stay in euhydration longer.
* If you exercise longer than 90 minutes, rehydrate with water that has electrolytes added (primarily sodium and potassium, though some sodium is reabsorbed by the sweat glands – the body sure is amazing, eh)?
* Drink water before, during AND after exercise – yes, all three.
As to whether it’s better to drink cold or room temperature water, the research clearly indicates that … it doesn’t really matter. The temperature that’s most effective is … the one that will induce you to drink more water.
If you find water boring, that’s no excuse to go buy sugar-laden drinks or skip the water bottle. Simple throw in a sprig of mint or rosemary, or a wedge or orange, lemon or lime, and off you go. Up hill. Down dale.
ACTION: Drink up biweekly solutions for aging actively and exercising effectively and safely when you SUBSCRIBE. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes floating about.
by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Carmel was incorporated in 1916; Hermosa in 1907. Both attract surfers, though the water is definitely colder in Carmel. And both have small cottages that were built generations ago sitting next to award winning, “to the lot’s edge” architectural wonders on every street. Don’t ask the prices unless you aren’t daunted by California real estate.
As part of a bloggers’ weekend, I drove up to Carmel with the simple expectation that I would have a good time. Since so many of you are similar to me in that we like history and the personal touch, I’ll share some of the things I did and discovered that I think YOU might also enjoy.
A gutsy, go-getter woman founded the hotel where we stayed – Donna Hofsas. In 1947 she lived in the cottage where I stayed while adding more rooms over the years. In a town that only allows two-story buildings, she talked the city planners into letting her build a 4-story hotel. How’s that for moxie? Then she commissioned the same female painter who did the fresco at Coit Tower, Maxine Albro, to paint several murals and other works at the hotel.
Donna’s granddaughter now runs the bright pink Hofsas House (as well as being on the city council), so ask her for the hotel’s secrets when you stay there. Hofsas House is on San Carlos Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue (see below to discover why I’m not giving you a numbered address).
On the details side, Carmel is more affordable than I expected. Even in high season, room rates range from about $150 – $275, with no stupid ***@** resort fee snuck in. Wifi, breakfast and parking are free.
Did you know it’s illegal to wear heels higher than 2 inches in Carmel? You won’t get a ticket: the law was created in the 1920s to protect the city from lawsuits from people who tripped on the sidewalks. Great excuse to put on sensible shoes, eh?
The town has no street light or addresses. Walk around and you’ll notice that homes all have names. Keep in mind that the town was founded by creative types. They wanted a forested, European feel to the town, so bourgeois things such as number plates were verboten. Everyone has to go to the post office to collect mail. Certainly means all 3,700 inhabitants get to know each other.
For now, you can still have fires in certain locales on the beach too. This was exciting for me to hear, as we used to dig sand pits and have fires on the beach in Hermosa in the 60s. They were banned by the time I hit middle school.
No big box inns or stores are in Carmel either. It’s mom and pop all the way. Actually, the town is so friendly, even your dogs are welcome. Even in the inns, restaurants, wine-tasting rooms and shops, where you’ll spot water dishes and treats everywhere. Annnnnd, free parking.
Shopping, Hiking and Dining
Compliments of the Hofsas House, I received four Wine Walk Tasting tickets, each good for a wine flight at any of the 14 wine tasting rooms in town. Yup, I left Santa Barbara County’s wine country and landed in Monterey County’s. I also discovered two designer consignment shops, an Alice in Wonderland shop, a chocolate shop, and enough bakeries to keep my bread-baking, carb-loving self happy.
For dinner, a friend and I went to Beach House Restaurant at Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove (an 8-minute drive). It’s right on the beach, and our service and food were excellent. Plenty of options for vegetarians, too. FYI, the portions are huge, huger, hugest, so come hungry.
Hiking is my meditation, so I walked along the beach, around town on the residential streets, Point Lobos, Big Sur, and about 20 different pull-out stops along Highway 1 as I drove south. On my next visit I might take one of the History Walks, though I could also be persuaded to do the art walks or food tours. I also want to hike along the Mission Trail Preserve. For those of you into birds, one of the secrets I learned from Carrie (co-owner of Hofsas House) is that the Carmel River is the place to be.
Final piece of good news that you will never think about in advance, but makes a big difference – Carmel-by-the-Sea is a safe place for women to walk alone, day and night. I went walking early in the morning, and felt at ease and quite peaceful. Even though I had my iPhone and Canon out (major tourist alerts), the locals out running and dog-walking all said hello. I truly had to resist the urge to say, “I grew up in a town that used to be just like this. Can we please chat about the good ol’ days?”
I want to go back soon. Preferably on a romantic getaway, but another girls’ getaway would work too.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Photo credits: Alexandra Williams – Canon and iPhone
Let’s walk through the sometimes confusing realities of killing off kilocalories. Once we appreciate the role carbohydrates and fat both serve in providing fuel, then we can understand how to select the “best” workout programs.
But first, when speaking of “the best” programs, we have to mention our recently created “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.” (Go for it — click that link!) Even if you’re carrying extra ell-bees around the middle, you can still achieve a strong core. Why not feel more confident, capable, and comfortable in your body as you burn fat and gain amazo abs? Read more here as well: Get Ultimate Abs (Better Yet, A Strong Core)
And, we’re back …. Stick with us to the end where you’ll get 4 fat burning programs to try.
First, the goal is to have a caloric deficit to lose any weight. That deficit comes from the age old energy balance equation: take in fewer calories than we put out (eat less); put out more calories than we take in (move more). The entire weight loss picture is far more complex, affected by a myriad of other factors. For more on losing weight and fat, check out To Burn Fat, Do I Go Faster or Slower? Professional alert warning system activated — it’s not just about cals in and out, though you do have to start there! (Then continue with this post on another surprising factor that affects weight: Is Stress Making You Fat? )
Second, is that we break down carbohydrates 40 times faster than fat, with carbs supplying most of the fuel (energy) to power our exercise. Distinguish between absolute and relative numbers when thinking of fat loss. When you exercise with some intensity, you use a higher percentage of carbohydrates compared to fat as the fuel source. However, the highest total of burned calories is what you are going for. For that, you need to suck it up and add some effort.
Higher intensity exercise burns more calories; however, a long, slow approach is better than what most of the adult population is doing — uh, as in better than not much or nuffink! But a workout with some oomph to it at a higher pace will use more total energy (calories) than the lower intensity plan. Absolutely!
Third, thanks to international fitness expert, professor, and colleague of ours, Dr. Len Kravitz you get top level practical tips. He shared with us the exciting, proven, no-magic-required realm of the four best training programs to maximize calorie burning and become lower fat! He recommends we try all 4 methods.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Select a cardio activity you enjoy, such as cycling, running, walking, using a row machine. Go as hard as you can for about 30 seconds. Then recover at a self-selected, variable pace for about 3- 4 minutes. Complete 4-8 rounds for a total workout time of about 30-45 minutes. Dr. Len recommends changing up the mode workout to workout, especially if you have several favorite cardio activities.
And if you forget all this, simply recite the Kymberly mantra: “Go as hard as you can, as long as you can, as often as you can.” I hear the sizzle of calorie burning already!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Cardio exercise has officially moved into the number one spot for “the best thing you can do for your brain” (AARP Bulletin, Get Moving for a Healthy Brain, Sept 2013, pgs 12-13). Take that crossword puzzles, foreign languages, and musical instruments! (Also touted as great vehicles to boost brain power, but downshifted out of first place given the latest research).
If you want to keep smart, cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half, repair brain cell damage, and basically grow a bigger brain, you’ve got to dance, baby, dance! Face facts midlifers and baby boomers — if you do not eke out at least 150 minutes of cardio per week, your brain actually shrinks every year post 40, year after sedentary year.
But if you want to increase your brain size and capability — cue harps and trumpets — then find a way to work in about 22 aerobic minutes each day. Or 50 minutes three times a week. Or 75 minutes twice a week. I can do this math for you because I boosted my brain teaching step class and walking my dogs. We’re easy around here how you get to the total and new studies support that ease. Sure walking for weight loss is wonderful (read our post on what walking can do for you). Walking for brain gain is even more powerful and impactful! Or try dancing, swimming, getting on a treadmill, biking, hiking, gardening even (could this be any easier? No I am not going to include watching Dancing With the Stars on this list even though I admit total fanaticism for the show.) It really does not take much time or effort to succeed with a brain fitness program.
Let me stress again how powerful movement is for your brain — each and every time you exercise, you get a bigger hippocampus (that’s sexy talk for the post 50 crowd); you stimulate the growth of new neurons; you cut your risk of dementia by 60 percent. Can I get a rah rah here with a pom pom thrown in please?
As Dr. Michael Luan, a friend and expert on Conscious Movement puts it, “We exercise to become better humans. Conscious Movement evolves your brain. The body is your ultimate tool for success, and we all have the potential for greatness. Success with your body creates success with your career, relationships, and ultimately, your life.” The better your brain, the better your life, wouldn’t you say?
Movement will improve your focus, increase your mood, enhance your decision-making processes, help your ability to plan, regenerate brain cells, help your memory, and basically outsmart all those young people who can’t believe how sharp you are for a person your age.
ACTION: Improve your brain and body at least twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. Enter your email and claim your free bonus while you’re at it.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA