Exercise In Tampa Reduces Mental Decline

I hope your 2009 exercise commitment is still going strong. If you are still achieving your aerobic activity (30 minutes of heart-pumping action on most days) and strength building (two or three safe, challenging workouts each week), congratulations – you have weathered the Super Bowl, Gasparilla, Valentine’s Day and many other hurdles. You should be feeling pretty good about yourself right now; you probably have more energy, achieved some weight loss and are feeling stronger. Keep up the good work! For those of you still seeking consistency in your exercise commitments, our healine may spur you forward.

Two new reports add to the growing body of evidence that keeping your body fit also helps keep your brain in shape – not just preventing, but actually reversing mental decline. The Tuft University Health & Nurtrition Letter, of Januaary 2009, details the results of these two studies.

The authors concluded that an active lifestyle with moderate amounts of aerobic activity will likely improve mental performance and might even revers the neural decay frequently observed in older adults. This includes any physical activity that is strenuous enough to raise your heart rate and your breathing.

If asked “Do you hope to age easier than your parents or grandparents?” Mos of us would answer “yes.” Well, these studies add to the vast research that supports the many benefits of exercise. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, regular physical activity reduces the risk in adults of early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancers, and depression. These new federal guidelines recommend two and one-half hours a week of moderate exercise. “Moderate” activity is defined as enough exertion that you can still talk, but you can’t catch enough breath to sing. There are plenty of acitivities, not limited to regular exercise, that fall into this category; such as walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and gardening.

Further guidelines were set up for vigorous activity, in lieu of moderate exertion, of 75 minutes per week. “Vigorous” activity is more challenging – where you can only say a few words withough stopping to catch your breath. Examples of this greater exertion might inclue race-walking, jogging or running, swimming laps, jumping rpe and hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack.

According to Miram Nelson, Ph.D., who served as vice chair of the expert panel behind the recommendations, “Being completely sedentary is the most riskey. So do anything. I’m dead serious.” She went on to suggest we each find an activity we enjoy, or the one you “detest the least” and “then do it!” To learn more on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans visit:


Exercise of the Month: THE BICYCLE CRUNCH

Objective: Safely strengthen the core muscles, especially highlighting the side abdominals – the oblique muscles.

Equipment Required: None

Starting Position: Start on the floor, lying on your back, with your hands behind your head, but do not interlock your fingers. Lift your head and hands off the floor while also lifting your legs about 6 inches from the floor.

Technique: Slowly pull your right knee in while raising your left shoulder towards your left knee, keeping your right leg straight. Then reverse the sequence by moving your right leg and shoulders back to the starting position.
Repeat the movement bending your left leg towards your right shoulder and return to the starting position. Continue the exercise alternating leg/shoulder combinations.
Remember to breath. Lightly exhale each time you bring your knee towards the opposite shoulder. If you feel pain in your lower back, re-set yourself to the starting position and press your lower back firmly against the floor by tightening your core abdominal muscles. If that does not alleviate the back stress, discontinue this exercise and replace it with a different abdominal strengthening exercise.

Repetitions: Work up to 15-25 repetitions for each leg-shoulder combination.

Trainer Note: Be careful not to pull your hands up, forcing you to bend your neck, as you move your shoulders from side to side. This will result in un-necessary neck stress. Also, rotate smoothly as you alternate legs and shoulders; try to avoid a rocking or jerky motion.

Davis Islands Community News   ●   March 2009
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