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Live Active for the Spring!

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

As spring approaches, it is a perfect time to kick those fitness goals into high gear! Here are some tips to help you start and maintain a healthy spring fitness plan:

  • Become more active. Pick three simple ways to become more active and write them down. Examples might be taking the stairs at work, taking the dog for longer walks, or cutting out time spent in front of the TV or computer.
  • Set realistic goals. Committing to too much at once can lead to frustration. Try starting with 15 minutes of cardio exercise a day, and then increase the time each week until you reach 30 minutes a day.
  • Don’t overdo it. Overly ambitious workouts can lead to injury. Start small and stop if you feel pain. When in doubt, consult your primary care physician to determine what activity level is safe and most effective for you.
  • Enjoy Living Well. Choose activities that you enjoy. Your fitness plan will be easy to follow as long as it is enjoyable and fulfilling.

 

Ask Dr. Nancy

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

Q: What activities really help in avoiding mental decline as we age?

That’s a great question—for one reason because you assume brain power need not diminish with time. You’re right. As our cover story explains, scientists now know that brain cells and neural pathways can grow throughout life. Yes, the brain does shrink from age (particularly from about the 60s on), but many easy, everyday activities counteract the process and its mental losses.

 

1. Move it or lose it.

You may be surprised at the premier strategy for keeping your brain sharp: physical exercise. The scientific evidence is clear. Just walking 30–60 minutes several times a week has a big impact on the brain’s “executive functions”: planning, focusing, working memory (for example, retaining a phone number as you dial), multitasking, and making good behavior choices. More exercise increases the benefit. Lifelong exercisers show better mental functioning and less incidence of Alzheimer’s than sedentary people. However, even inactive people of 70 years and older improve cognitive performance with regular exercise. Why? Physical activity improves blood vessel health (blood flow to the brain) and releases proteins that grow neurons and their connections. The brain shrinks less.

 

2. Use it or lose it.

Seek out mental stimulation and training, like the coming InSight™ program for CHP seniors (see page 1). Research shows that learning something new (a language, sport, skill) or improving visual and aural acuity leads to overall improvement in brain function. Practicing a specific task (memory of names, for example) has a more limited benefit.

 

3. Get connected.

Social ties keep your brain livelier. In a study of 2,800 people aged 65 or older, those with at least five social ties suffered less cognitive decline than those without ties. Having connections doesn’t mean a social whirl. The ties included church and social groups, regular visits, and phone calls. Walk with a friend. Your brain gets a double boost!

 

4. Eat to think.

Some nutrients, such as antioxidants, appear to protect our brains—and they’re in tasty foods. Many experts recommend diets rich in colorful fruits (berries, raisins, prunes, oranges, red grapes), dark-colored vegetables (spinach, kale, eggplant), and fish with omega-e fatty acids (salmon, trout).

 

So . . . move, learn, socialize, eat well, and stay smart! It’s your choice. Live well.

These Holiday Hustles Are Good for You

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, exercising often gets left behind in your dust. While walking around a grocery or mall is exercise, does it unstress you? Hardly. CHP proudly sponsors two holiday walks and runs that will lift your mood, burn calories (pumpkin pie, anyone?), and benefit good causes. Have an outing with friends or family!

November 27, Tallahassee Turkey Trot

Gulfwinds Track Club Event

8:00 a.m. 1-mile Turkey Gobbler walk/run

8:30 a.m. 5K, 10K, 15K

State Office Complex, Capital Circle S.E.

Register online at www.gulfwinds.org/turkeytrot, on race day 6:45–7:30 a.m., or call 850-425-6671.

For full information, including the pre-race Music Fest on November 23, see the website.

 

December 6, Jingle Bell Run

City of Tallahassee, Winter Festival

6:15 p.m. 3K

Monroe Street at Park Avenue

For registration details, visit http://www.talgov.com/parks/winter/index.cfm or call 850-891-3860.