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Study + exercise = learning

PE

In June I posted about the proven impact exercise has on memory. Let’s take that to another level today and talk about our kids’ education. It is thought that exercise may have an even greater impact on children whose brains are still growing throughout the school years.

The No Child Left Behind program has put intense focus on academic test performance at the expense of physical education. PE and recess time are being reduced throughout the country. Since the link between physical fitness and academic performance is well known, this trend needs to be reversed.

Vanessa Richardson sites several studies in her article, A Fit Body Means a Fit Mind. One study concludes, “…students who took PE prior to class showed one and a quarter year’s growth on the standardized reading test after just one semester, while the exercise-free students gained just nine-tenths of a year.” And the results from scheduling PE before a math class “were even more dramatic; exercising students increased their math test scores by 20.4 percent, while the rest gained 3.9 percent.”

Seriously, my friends. We need to turn this around for our kids!

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First in Training, NC


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Can exercise substitute for drug therapy?

EiM
This is pretty interesting … A recent study published by the British Journal of Medicine concludes that exercise has results similar to drug interventions in terms of its ability to prolong your life. The study also showed that exercise was actually better than meds for stroke patients. It’s super encouraging to see that the value of exercise beyond weight loss is getting some recognition.

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First in Training, NC


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What motivates you to work out?

Why do you work out? To lose weight? Improve your triathlon time? To look great on the beach? The author of 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out hopes her daughter will see exercise as a joy, not as a price she must pay to look great in “that dress.”  I stand firm in the belief that any motivation is a good one if it gets us off the couch, but the real key to this great article is that for those who actually view exercise differently, it becomes part of who they are and the results can be astounding and unexpected.

But maybe the author’s main point is the influence we provide our kids. What are they learning from us about the part exercise plays in our life? Is it a necessary misery they must endure like getting a flu shot?  Is it about sweating in a gym and tolerating it or is it playing soccer and winning?

I’m curious … what did you learn from your parents & teachers about exercise and how did that help form your current views on it? Also, which of the 10 things in the article resonate the most for you?

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First in Training, NC


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Brain Fitness: Can physical exercise really improve your memory?

brain

Short answer … Yes.  An article on my CNN phone app caught my attention yesterday. Titled, “It’s time to get your brain in shape”, it included a list of things you can do daily to keep your brain sharp. You won’t be surprised that one of them was physical exercise. Still, it’s easier to associate improved brain function with mental exercise and a healthy diet. How does physical exercise make a difference, even in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease? The CNN article states that, “exercise enhances the growth and survival of new neurons in the hippocampus – a region of the brain essential for long-term memory – which may be able to replace others that degenerate as a result of the disease.” So read that again … exercise can replace memory neurons that degenerate. So it’s not just preventative, it’s restorative!

For you science geeks interested in more detail, another article from Harvard Health Publications, Get your heart pumping in the fight against forgetfulness, claims that exercise “stimulates brain regions that are involved in memory function to release a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF rewires memory circuits so they work better. … BDNF isn’t available in a pill. Only the brain can make it, and only with regular exercise. That means 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, ideally five days a week. The threshold for brain benefit seems to be raising your heart rate to 70% of maximum. For men, the maximum heart rate is roughly 220 minus age.”

I love finding evidence on the health benefits of regular exercise beyond weight loss. Our culture puts a high value on cognitive strength as well as physical strength. Isn’t it cool to know you can improve both with the same investment of effort?

What surprising health benefits have you seen from your exercise regimen?

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First in Training, NC


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Trends in corporate employee wellness programs

Check this out. According to the article, Trend: Employee Wellness published by Great Place to Work, 55 of the top 100 best workplaces in 2013 offered financial incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs. And the incentives ranged from an average of $460 to a best of $2600 so it’s not just a token. The article also credits companies for having onsite gyms or subsidies for offsite fitness centers. Gym benefits have been around a bit longer though but the point here is the trend.

The trend involves two good things:

  • More companies are actively supporting health & fitness
  • Companies are getting more creative and flexible with their programs

I really love the idea of an incentive for participating in a wellness program on your own. Gyms aren’t for everyone but if they’re your thing, you will probably use one with or without a subsidy. An incentive for a wellness program could (and should) be for whatever it is that works for each individual. It might be food counseling or a step tracker or personal exercise therapy.

With all of the changes and unknowns related to how health care is and will be paid for it makes intense sense for employers who have a stake in it on many levels to invest on the prevention side of health care. Do you agree?

If you got a financial incentive for a wellness program, what would you use it for?

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First in Training, NC


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Is a 10-minute workout a waste of time?

Nope. Of course any amount of movement has value, so grab whatever time you have. Get your heart rate up if you can, work your muscles as much as possible … but just move.

A different question though might be what results you should expect from a 10-minute workout. If you do a Web search for “10 minute workout” you’ll find a ton of articles, videos, books and assorted plans on how to “get fit in 10 minutes a day.” The implication is that if you work really, really hard for 10 minutes, you can get the same results as you would with a more typical hour-long workout.

An intense 10 minutes cannot be a condensed version of a 60-minute workout. It is a portion of it. That means it’s missing some stuff – in particular, ramping up your heart beat at a healthy rate (depending on your age and health, you may need a full 10 minutes of just warm-up time to avoid injury), and stretching (more about flexibility in another blog).
So be realistic. The concept of being “fit” is usually considered to be the full meal deal: balanced strength, healthy body fat, lung endurance, quick heart recovery, a full range of flexible movement and a healthy diet. Most 10-minute workouts focus only on strength with a bit of heart elevation. Be aware of what is missing and set realistic expectations for the results you want. A reputable exercise health professional can design a program to meet the full definition of fitness and that works with your lifestyle.

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First in Training, NC


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Meet Fitipzz!

ImageWelcome Fitipzz!  This exercise bee is here to take some of the ‘sting’ out of exercise issues, common complaints and struggles by addressing some of the everyday and real issues my clients and I deal with on a daily basis.  As an exercise professional, we honestly want our clients and patients to see progress and feel better.  So believe it or not, we can have just as many frustrations with lack of progress as our clients do and can sometimes get even more excited about the progress!

ImageFitipzz comment of the day – I can’t exercise at home….  yes, actually you can! Lets find what the actual issue is that is preventing you from feeling like you can exercise at home.  Lack of privacy?  Lack of space?  Lack of ideas of what to do?   Instead, find the underlying cause and attack that.  Any great solutions or stories about working out at home when the situations are not ideal?  How do you solve that problem?

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First in Training, NC