By CEO Robert Forster, PT
The strongest evidence for maintaining your brain health is it’s link to heart health. You can’t feel your brain working; however, it’s one of the most active organs in your body. Your heart is continuously pumping 20 percent of your blood volume to your brain, because the billions of cells that compose your brain require about 20 percent of your blood’s oxygen and fuel.
If your heart isn’t pumping well — or if your brain’s blood vessels are damaged — your brain cells have trouble getting all the food and oxygen they need. Any condition that damages your heart or blood vessels can affect your brain’s blood flow and oxygen supply.
WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE BRAIN HEALTH TO HEART?
A long-term study of 1,500 adults found that those who were obese in middle age were twice as likely to develop dementia later in life. Those who also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure had six times the risk of dementia.
Studies have shown that high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol clogs the arteries and is associated with higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. (Use mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, for example. Try baking or grilling food instead of frying).
If you are a smoker, quit. Smoking interferes with blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain and increases your risk factor for heart disease and stroke exponentially.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
Adopt a heart healthy lifestyle with food and exercise. Walking and other moderate exercise for 30 minutes each day gets the body moving and the heart pumping. Walking and exercising in the proper heart rate zone is essential.
Endurance exercise, like running, swimming or biking, can also foster new brain cell growth and preserve existing brain cells.
Flexibility declines with age. Muscles and connective tissue shorten and tighten. Posture collapses as well, which not only compromises breathing, but also blood flow to the brain. There is new evidence that shows tinnitus, (ringing in the ears) develops because of bone and circulation degeneration in the ear. With targeted physical therapy exercises and ultra sound therapy, tinnitus may improve.
Better flexibility means more energy, a strong poised posture, and reduced risk of injury. Stretching exercises increase flexible, circulation, and structural alignment, which are essential to brain health.
Strength training isn’t just for beach bodies and body builders. Most of us know that strength training (with free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands) can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength. What many of us don’t know is that strong muscles lead to strong bones, and strong bones help minimize the risk of fracture due to osteoporosis.
Vitamin D deficiency is a major contributor to osteoporosis, and osteoporotic fractures. Its effects are mediated by the development of cerebrovascular disease, postural instability, muscle weakness, and bone fragility. Thus, osteoporotic fractures result from both a bone and brain disease.
Lifting weights or using your FTS resistance bands not only build muscle and strengthen bones; they boost brainpower, improve mood, enhance concentration, increase decision-making skills, and improve sleep.
Balance diminishes progressively as we get older. Balance training is not just about avoiding falls. Better balance will improve your overall movement and your ability to do things safely throughout your life. At PHASE IV our structural programs include not only strength and flexibility exercises, but balance training as well.
According to the American Heart Association, exercising in your target heart rate zone is essential, but they don’t tell you why.
Below is the American Heart Associations Target Heart Rate Graph.
WHY HEART RATE ZONE EXERCISE?
The specific goal of heart rate training is to improve your energy production system. Your body has, through genetics and your past exercise habits, developed a preference for burning fats, carbohydrates, and protein in a specific ratio. For this reason generic heart rate zone protocols are almost always inaccurate, overly broad, dangerous, and unsustainable.
Generic heart rate zones like the one illustrated here are not only inaccurate; they fail to follow the principles of adaptation and periodization. Simply put, all exercise protocols need to follow periods of rest and metabolic retesting. Why? Because your heart rate zones improve with proper training and exercise. This adaptation makes it possible to burn fat at higher and higher intensities; saving the limited amounts of carbohydrate storage, and instead using the virtually unlimited amount of fat we store on our bodies. By exercising in a prescription heart rate zone you will continue to burn fat both during exercise and at rest.
The PHASE IV Metabolic Testing protocols will determine your body’s current preference for energy production and will adapt a unique heart rate exercise zone plan to direct your metabolism to burn more fat for fuel. This type of personalized fitness prescription will shift your metabolism to better facilitate your goals (i.e.: increased muscle mass, increased energy, weight reduction, etc).
Utilizing the most advanced scientific technologies, a VO2 and RMR test will provide a snapshot of exactly what energy production systems are operating well and which are deficient. The information culled from this testing will shed light on the secrets of your personal physiology and solve the inevitable question of how much and how often should you exercise, and what shift in your nutrition plan is necessary to boost your metabolism and overall health.
What can add years to your life, help you lose weight, boost your mood, improve your sleep, reduce your risk of heart disease, and cancer, as well as keep your bones and your brain healthy? Exercise!
If you would like to learn more about prescription exercise and weight management nutrition, please contact PHASE IV for a complementary consultation: (310) 582-8212
Alz.org | Alzheimer’s Association
US National Library of Medicine
Strength Training Builds More Than Muscles
Cleveland Clinic Healthy Brains