This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Exercise your brain!

Your brain needs exercise to stay young and fit.

A few days ago at the gym I was getting ready to do a 60 minute intense boot camp class.  Two women were excitedly talking about a new book they had just read and they casually asked the instructor if she had read the book yet.  The instructor's reply was a condescending "I don't just sit around and read.  I like to keep myself  too physically active for that."  Stunned, one of the women began to backpedal and claim that she only read a few pages at a time while the other just looked embarrassed.  Since I can only think of witty responses 15 minutes after they are needed, I said nothing but thought to myself that it was a shame that the boot camp instructor doesn't keep her brain in the same good shape she's keeping her body.

Our brains need exercise.  Everytime we learn something new, read a book, try something different, solve a problem, memorize a list, or meditate we are exercising our brains.  New neural pathways are created, extra blood is circulated through our blood vessels yielding more oxygen for our brain cells.  Dead cells are swept away and room is made for even more learning. 

It is essential that we continually challenge ourselves and it can be as simple as the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper, or as complex as microsurgery, our brains don't really care as long as they are constantly used.  People who are in the habit of thinking are faster at problem solving, have quicker reflexes, suffer less from depression, and have less likelihood of developing senility as they age.  Of course diet and exercise play a huge part in how healthy our brains are and how much blood and lymph can circulate, but denying our bodies the downtime they need so we can focus on exercising our brains is just as aging to our bodies as a sedentary lifestyle.  Watching TV, youtube, and movies sadly does not count as brain exercise, but surfing the web sure does.

I've always been a fan of the walking meditation but I also like to listen to podcasts and audio books as I walk.  I am exposed to so many new and different ideas that way and it helps to broaden my horizons a bit.  In the evenings I like to play a game of spider solitaire on the computer while I'm waiting for dinner to cook.  Sodoku, crossword puzzles, mah jong, and solitaire are all readily available free games that come with Microsoft Windows or are available on the web.

I'd like to think my brain is in excellent shape: lean, young, full of oxygen-rich blood just circulating around as my super-smart thoughts are being zapped from neuron to neuron.  Lacking that, I'd at least like to avoid becoming a stale old curmudgeon.

My boot camp instructor has amazing abs, but I bet her brain is flabby.

8 comments:

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

I'm a big book worm myself. That comment made by the instructor was really insulting and, at the risk of sounding witchy, made her look pretty shallow. Who puts someone down for trying challenging their mind?

Beth said...

Karen I couldn't agree more. I was surprised myself, especially since the women being insulted were in excellent shape and clearly not "just sitting around reading."

Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

Hi Beth!

I loved your parting shot!

I'm going to follow and learn from you. My picture shows up when I comment, but I'm a mysterious, shadowy figure with an old email address (cookies4spartans) as a follower, so don't be creeped out. I'm technologically challenged! I have to figure out how to fix my following icon.

Maybe I should READ about it!!

Anonymous said...

great thought about our minds.....as far as the instructor....she probably doesn't even realize how she sounded...tunnel vision I tell ya...tunnel vision....

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Yeah, bitch surely has a fat head, brain, whatever.

Beth said...

Hello Genie and welcome! I sometimes get stuck trying to request a friend on Facebook so I totally empathize with your dilemma on how to change your icon. It's great to have you reading!

Beth said...

Anonymous I am sure you are right - the instructor may have even felt embarrassed that she hadn't read the book (or any books for that matter) and overcompensated by being snarky. It's hard to know how others take you. I am sure I walk a fine line between thinking I'm funny and being annoying all the time...

Beth said...

SB I am all for having a fat head if it means you're eating your Omega-3 fats that feed your brain!!! (See how I snuck in a health tip? Wasn't that perky and annoying?)