Health fitness professionals, health care practitioners, and students are gathered this week at ACSM's 20th annual Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition - taking place March 29-April 1 in Orlando. Follow all the action online by looking for the hashtag #ACSMSummit16, or learn more about educational & career opportunities at acsmsummit.org.
What do nursery rhymes, meditation, dance, moderate to vigorous physical activity, yoga, learning (and writing and telling others about what you learned) all have in common? They make you smarter. But it's not just about becoming smarter. Your brain actually becomes healthier, too.
In "Cross Train Your Brain," Dr. Terry Eckmann enlightened, educated, danced, sang and convinced everyone in the audience that we have the power to grow, expand and improve the health of our brains.
Cross Training is the Name of the Game
The brain, like muscles and other organs in your body, responds positively to exercise. Just 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus and increases BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that causes neurons to fire more effectively. This combination gets oxygen and glucose in the brain faster, increases mood and elevates a person's stress threshold. Essentially, exercise creates a brain superhighway that can happen at all ages and stages in life. All types of exercise have been shown to have a positive impact on the brain. Yoga increases GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), which acts like a neurotransmitter to help the brain focus and feel calm. Dance improves memory and attention and aquatic exercise increases blood supply to the brain.
Pick your movement. Any way you want to move, it'll help your brain's superhighway move that much faster.
Dr. Kara Mohr, Ph.D., is an internationally known educator in the area of weight loss, behavior change and exercise. She is co-owner of Mohr Results, Inc. and was previously an assistant professor at the University of Louisville and the assistant director of the Physical Activity & Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh.