365 Challenge Day 10 – Cardio

25 May

A couple of years ago, even though I was in a good routine of walking almost every day, I realized that to be healthy I really needed to add cardio, or aerobic exercise to my week. The thing that made me realize the importance of it was reading this book: Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, by Dr. Daniel Amen.  Actually, I just decided I need to read it again.

Change Your Brain

I love neuroscience, and I find neuroplasticity completely fascinating!!  For years I had been reading about how meditation changes the brain, but this book was much more comprehensive.  There were many issues the author specifically outlined and how they were related to brain health, linked back to areas of the brain being damaged or understimulated.  There were multiple solutions for specific problems, some were complex and required medical interventions.  But there was one solution that would help any of the issues and all areas of the brain: aerobic exercise!  Basically, by increasing the oxygen flow to the brain, it improves brain health, which in turn improves  mental and physical well-being.  Things like memory, mood, and willpower could all be improved though cardio.

For example there was a study that showed students excelled academically in a school that made aerobic exercise part of the weekly phys-ed program.  Another study that showed regular aerobic exercise was more effective in the long term then anti-depressents for treating depression, and didn’t have any of the terrible side effects.  His first book (which I haven’t read) talks about mental health and depression in much more detail: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.

Today I signed my son up at the gym where my daughter and I are both members.  I was just there to get him started so I followed him around and we went on the bike, the stair master, and the treadmill, about 25 minutes all together.  He also tried this crazy looking thing called a Jacob’s Ladder.  Then in the afternoon I went back with my daughter, and I did 20 more minutes on the elliptical machine.  I’m hoping that we’ll be able to get into a routine of all going together twice a week.

When I was in my 20s and trying to lose my “freshman 15” (except it was more like freshman 20) I used to go on the stair master for one hour at a time.  I don’t know how the heck I did that!!  Well, I sure did lose the weight.  Now, since I started trying to incorporate cardio again, I can’t seem to do more than 30 minutes at a time.  Even 20 feels like a lot!  I’d like to work up to at least 40.  That would be a good goal for me.  At least twice a week.  I can’t say I love going on the elliptical machine the way I love yoga, love dance, and LOVE Zumba.  But I don’t dislike it either.  I put on some good tunes, or even listen to an audio book, and am always happy when I’ve done it.





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