Tips on Staying Healthy in Cold/Flu Season

During this time of year it can be especially challenging to stay healthy.  Here are a few things I do that help me maintain my immune system throughout the year, and especially during cold/flu season.  *Knock on wood* I haven’t had a cold in 2 years (compared to most of life where I spent most of the year being sick).  This means I have learned a lot about maintain health throughout the process!  This week I am reminded I am not invincible, as I feel the lingering of a cold trying to come on, and so I will practice what I preach and see if I can ward it off with the tips below.

I will rank them based on the importance I give them 🙂

#1:  SLEEP!  Sleep is the only time of day we completely relax our body, and is the only time of day we allow our body and immune system to regenerate and grow stronger.  Without proper sleep and recovery our immune system will suffer.  I don’t bargain on my sleep.  I will put aside anything I have to do to get a few extra winks in.  In the past when I used to cut myself off from 7-9 hours a night of sleep, and drink a ton of caffeine during the day I was ALWAYS sick, and I mean- ALWAYS.  Not only would I get sick but I would be horribly sick, bed ridden, and it would last for weeks.  Since I started sleeping/napping at least 7-9 hours a day, and even more when my body wants/needs it I have a much stronger immune system.  Poor sleep is a sign of an imbalance in your body or potentially your life.  I am not a sleep expert, but I do know that something might be off internally if you can’t fall asleep at night or don’t stay asleep.  There may be a nutritional issue, stress issue, hormone issue, etc.  Speak to a Naturopath or your preferred health practitioner for help on this one.

#2:  Stress!  Stress can come from work, to- do lists, social anxieties, overwhelming fears, personal expectations etc.  Stress is everywhere in our society.  When stress accumulates in our body we produce hormones that are catabolic, inflammatory, and damaging to our systems.  The times I get sick, are the times I am most stressed.  By practicing some of the following stress management techniques you can start to decrease stress in your life, and boost your immunity:

  •  Meditation practice
  • Breathing practice (being more away of proper breathing throughout the day)
  • Journalling & Conversation
  • Relaxing activities (art, music, dance, etc.).
  • Managing boundaries and expectations

#3:  Maintain a Healthy Gut.  The research being done studying our gut is astounding.  More studies are showing that our immune system starts in our gut, and by creating a healthy environment full of good bacteria we are healthier and better able to ward off disease.  In my own life I know that for most of my life I ate a shitty diet and really suffered from bloating and GI discomfort.  When I started filling my body with plants and whole foods I noticed first of all that my GI discomfort went away and I no longer get bloated, and also that it had a correlation on my ability to ward off illness.

How do I build a healthy gut?  For me, by eliminating dairy from my diet I saw a drastic improvement in my gut, skin, and overall health.  Next, by cutting out processed foods and junk foods I felt even better.  Now that I focus mostly on eating as many whole foods as I can my gut is the healthiest it’s ever been.  Start there and see how you feel.  (oh- and remember, everything in moderation- you won’t get sick from having a few processed foods here and there).

#4:  Oil of Oregano

Whenever I feel that tickle in my throat of illness I drop 6-8 drops of oil of oregano into water and down it back!  It tastes disgusting, but it really does seem to help to ward off sickness.  Oil of oregano has been shown to ward off infection and fight the immune system, yet human scientific studies are still lacking.  You can read more about it on my favourite website for looking into supplements:  https://examine.com/supplements/Origanum+vulgare/

#5:  Lemon, Ginger, Turmeric, and Garlic

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These are my illness fighting super foods!  The first thing I do to ward off a cold is grate fresh ginger, lemon, and honey into a warm tea.  Ginger has a HUGE list of notable benefits to the body (including decreasing inflammation ) you can read more here:  https://examine.com/supplements/Ginger/.  Lemon is hydrating and detoxifying to the body, and the honey adds a soothing touch**.  Sometimes I will also add turmeric to the mix to boost up the inflammatory compounds https://examine.com/supplements/Turmeric/ .20170125_094229-1

 

 

This is a tea I made this week that simmers all the ingredients together (including turmeric) and it was surprisingly delicious!  Check out the recipe and more information about turmeric here:  http://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/tea-time-with-turmeric/

 

 

 

Next, I find ways to get as much garlic into my food as I can.  My favourite way is to fry up a bunch of greens  (covered with a lid) with my meals in numerous cloves of garlic and lemon juice.  Garlic has antibacterial properties (among other medicinal uses)  https://examine.com/supplements/Garlic/ (check out the evidence for garlic’s effect on our blood profiles).

20170125_113911

This is one of my Eat Your Cake delicious meal deliveries (cauliflower Kashmiri) and I’ve made an entire head of Kale on the side!

So there you have it- these are all my ‘secret tips and tricks’.  If you have any more to share feel free to post them below!

** In New Zealand I learned that their Manucka honey is an antibacterial agent that is used in hospitals and throughout the country for fighting infection, especially for people that are antibiotic resistance.

3 Things You Absolutely Need to Consider Adding to Your Life

This week I wanted to share with you 3 valuable resources I have come across in the past week that I think will add value, fun, simplicity, and knowledge to your life to helping you achieve optimal health!

#1:  Class Pass.

Class pass is a membership you can purchase in major cities throughout the world that gives you access to a variety of gyms and boutique fitness lass-passstudios in your city for the month.  I pay $55 a month to access 5 classes in my area (there is a 10 pass too).  Almost all the major yoga, cycling, barre, fitness, dance, pilates, boxing studios in Vancouver (plus more) are signed up, which means you get to check out an awesome variety of locations.  If you don’t have a regular gym membership, or perhaps you are like me and on the weekends you don’t want to travel all the way to your regular gym, you might want a pass in your area that you can drop in and get an awesome weekend workout.  What I like most is I get to check out the cycling, fitness, and yoga studios in my area that I have been wanting to try but didn’t want to spend $20 + to drop in each time.  I am pumped that there is something like class pass now here in Vancouver and I hope you join too!  See you at a class 🙂

If you are interested in signing up check out this link:  http://class.ps/eBLot.  You will get $30 off your first month by joining through this link 🙂

#2: An E-book written by my favourite nutritionist!

Laura is MY nutritionist, and the nutritionist I recommend to my clients because she is knowledgable, passionate, personable, empathetic and overall pretty amazing.  She has taught me a lot about all aspects of healthy balanced nutrition eating.  She recently wrote a book with her colleague and they published it this week!  If you have ever thought about hiring a nutritionist but weren’t ready to invest, or maybe you just want a nice guideline to refer to around the house I think you should check her book out.

This is what Laura has said about her book:

Jumpstart your health journey with the 4 Weeks to Health Guide and achieve your best health possible!screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-10-21-50-am

In it you’ll find everything you’ve ever wanted to know about different food groups: why is protein so important? What’s the deal with fats?

Learn how you can live a real life filled with real food without feeling deprived in 42 pages filled with tips, tricks, and recipes with a BONUS chapter!

 

You can find the link to her book here:

http://nutraliciousconsulting.com/store/

#3:  Meal Delivery Services.  

I’ve always struggled with enjoying cooking enough to do it regularly and consistently.  Now that I am working full time, going to school, and still trying to manage a social life and healthy lifestyle I realized something was going to have to give.  This weekend I realized that after years of telling myself I’m going to cook more and make sure I am eating enough protein, fat and iron I realized I was not making it a priority, and my time is better spent doing the things I love to do (more fitness related).  Nutrition is really the pillar that the rest of our life depends on.  If our complete nutrition is lacking then we don’t have the energy, focus, and health to do the rest of the things we want to do with our life!

eat-your-cakeMeal delivery services are becoming more and more popular.  I know of a few great companies in Vancouver, and I am sure there is on in your town too!  I’ve been wanting to order from the meal delivery service Eat Your Cake since it’s started and now my dream has come true! I just got my first delivery which included pumpkin pie pudding, falafel burger, sweet potato chili, soups, salads, croquettes and healthy cookies! I am so pumped to save time and energy by having this service each week. Check out their social media@eatyourcakevancouver.

My message to you is : stop trying to do everything! Figure out what you are good at and invest your time doing that. Find ways in your life when you can to make things easier, making you happier 😊😊make yourself a priority.  Perhaps for you cooking is easy, but fitness is hard, or perhaps prioritizing rest and relaxation is hard, everyone has those few things that we really struggle to implement as habits in our life.  You might need a trainer, business coach, counsellor, personal yoga teacher, nutritionist, naturopath, etc.  Figure it out- and implement 🙂

I hope you can consider the value of adding a fun fitness pass (that gets you excited about working out), or a nutrition guide (to educate yourself and keep you on the straight and narrow), or adding a service like meal delivery to make your life easier, less stressful, and give you more time to focus on the good you can do in the world 🙂

“How to Counteract The Deadly Effects of Sitting All Day”

 

Why are diseases such as Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity at all time highs in our country? Why is the diet industry a multi million (probably billion dollar industry) and why do people struggle so much to lose and maintain weight?

Is it diet? Yes- I believe we as a population and culture eat too much food, especially poor quality food.

But more than that I believe, and the research has shown that people SIT way too much, and this amount of sitting is contributing to an epidemic of poor health in our country.

Here is a great article for you to read (and the one I based today’s blog on:

https://www.ft.com/content/2d8566e2-81b3-11e6-8e50-8ec15fb462f4

Here is a typical day for many people:

Get ready for the day.

Drive to work (sitting).

Spend 8 + hours at work , mostly sitting, very little movement.

Drive home.

Sit while watching TV or talking on the phone, or sit at a restaurant for food, or go for a drink with a friend.

If you are part of the 2 % of our population that exercises daily, then maybe at some point in there you spend roughly 60 minutes exercising.

Most of the day is spent in a flexed body position, requiring virtually no use of the heart, lungs, and muscles.

What do they show sitting all day leads to?

– Raises your risk of: heart attacks, strokes, type 2 Diabetes, cancer, premature death and obesity (and that’s not even mentioning all the anatomical issues that arise from your body barely moving all day).

Did you fully read and comprehend that line?

It has been proven and shown in research that sitting all day at work is putting you at a much higher risk for the major causes of death and disease in our country. This data was first recognized in the 1940’s when a study was done on bus drivers vs. ticket takers on the bus in London. They found that the drivers who sat all day had much higher risk of disease then the ticket takers who stood and move around. This data has been around for a long time- and it’s time to take action!

It’s quite scary.

So What do We Need to Do?

  • Some research has shown that 60-75 minutes of daily medium to intense activity such as brisk walking or cycling can offset some of the effect of sitting for 8 hours a day. This tells us that hitting the gym daily is going to support our health in some way, but on top of that the key factor is finding ways to break up your sitting time with movement. If you exercise every morning and then sit for 8 + hours your benefits dwindle as the day goes on (especially if you are sitting in bad posture). In my lunch and learns I recommend setting an alarm and moving around every 30 minutes. This could be anything! Walk to the photocopier, walk a flight or two of stairs, do 10 squats into your chair. You’ve got to move.
  • Perhaps an easier solution for us might be to focus on our more controllable time. Perhaps you are a busy working professional who works 8 hours a day and each day is jam packed, hard for you to think about getting more movement in. I understand. So why not focus on moving on your free time? Challenge yourself to not sit on the couch when you get home. Instead focus on the laundry, dishes, cooking cleaning, getting a night time walk in, or turning on a yoga video. The average North American watches 3 hours of TV a day.   My suggestion: cut down that TV time, or if you are completely addicted and can’t give it up then how can you MOVE while you watch TV?

Remember last week in the blog I mentioned that the recommendations set out by Canada’s physical activity guidelines were kind of shitty in terms of what I would recommend for weight loss/maintenance (instead of 150 minutes a week I think people need 60 minutes a day minimum). Well- this research on sitting agrees with that statement!

What the recommendation for North Americans is based on what actually works to prevent disease and maintain a healthy body weight:

We need to exercise 60-75 minutes a day (moderate or intense) and MOVE MORE/SIT LESS.

What the average North American does on an a typical day:

½ of the population in North America doesn’t even meet the 150 minute a week mark for activity, and sits to watch TV for 3 -8 hours a day!

How Moving More Has Helped Me Maintain My Weight

If your own health isn’t enough motivation, then let’s talk body weight. I used to count calories, eat my best, and struggle to maintain my body weight. I would exercise as close to 5 days a week as I could, I would try to walk to work, but something didn’t add up- I still wasn’t happy with my weight. Over the past 1-2 years I have noticed a shift. I am able to eat more good food, also enjoy more indulgences, yet at the same time I am slimmer and leaner, what’s the deal? Yes- I am exercising more consistently. To be honest I exercise 6-7 days a week. This is everything from bike rides to long power walks to yoga to strength training to dance classes. I don’t usually miss a day unless I am incredibly sore or exhausted. But on top of that what I think has attributed more to my ability to maintain a lower body weight is moving more. In general I walk or bike to work, I move around all day with clients, I walk to get my groceries, etc. Sure, I sit, like when I am doing my homework, typing this blog, answering e-mails, or eating food, but it adds up to just a few hours a day compared to 8 when I used to work a desk job. So the moral of the story is- if you are struggling to lose or maintain your weight move more, as much as possible, every day of the week.

My message: For most of us, maintaining our weight, or losing weight is freaking hard! If it was easy we would all be of a healthy body weight and lower body fat. You’ve got to start moving more, for life :).  If you have always struggled with your weight, or never been able to maintain a low body weight it’s time to create a life based around movement of your body.

On top of that- if you sit for 8 hours a day you have to do EVEN MORE on your own free time to counteract for the lack of movement all day.  It’s hard!  

 

What To Do (ideas):

Here are some ideas I have for you to move more throughout the day. I would love, if you have other ideas you do regularly if you could post them in the comments below for the other readers.

  • Walk or cycle to work (this is my favourite idea, it’s so practical and simple, you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything out of your way).
  • Every time your phone rings, stand up.
  • Set a timer every 30 minutes to remind you to stand, do a stretch, do an exercise, move your body.
  • Never take an elevator or escalator again, if you can avoid it.
  • Walk to the grocery store.
  • Save TV for a special occasion.
  • Actually take a lunch break and go for a walk.
  • Get in your daily exercise (60-75 minutes).
  • Record how much TV/sitting you actually do, then try and minimize it.
  • Organize a stretch or movement break in your office in the morning and afternoon.
  • Get a sit/stand desk
  • If you are tired after work it’s because your body has gone to sleep during the day! It doesn’t need more sitting around it needs movement.   Get to a dance class, or go for walk. I will 100% guarantee you will not feel more tired after.
  • Cultivate a life around activity.  Instead of always having dinner/drinks with friends, could you do a hike and a tea?  Instead of making every date night about dinner and a movie, what about strolling the seawall, doing something new like rock climbing, or taking a yoga class together.  Get creative.

 

KELLY STARRETT  said in the article “If you walk into any office and look at the behaviours of people sitting, they default to a position that would make your grandmother sick,” says Mr Starrett. “The human body was not meant to be a couch potato.”

Kelly has a book out called Deskbound, which I haven’t read yet, but based on reading all his other books I am sure you would love.  I will be ordering mine soon.  In the meantime, you can get a good kick out of his quote, and take it was a reminder to sit up tall and straight, and to move less.

A Side Note:

Taking our health seriously.

It’s funny how sometimes we can know something in the back of our mind, yet we sneakily ignore it so that we can justify our actions. Let me give you an example. I LOVE peanut butter. The moment I open my eyes in the morning I am thinking about it. People bring me peanut butter as gifts to the gym regularly, and I got 2 giant jars of peanut butter for my birthday this year. I have been known to devour it by the multiple spoonful. One thing I have always known about peanut butter is that it contains something called aflatoxins which have been shown in research to be cancerous to humans. I have known this for years and yet I continued to consume it by the spoonful. Today, while listening to a podcast totally unrelated to health, the author reminded me of these toxins in peanut butter and their relevance to cancer. I had a light bulb moment. I asked myself- if you care so much about your health, how are you still eating peanut butter everyday!? And I realized, I was hiding the fact that I knew it wasn’t the best for me, to justify my addiction 🙂 So from now on- sure I will eat a bit of peanut butter, maybe a few times a week, but it’s time to find a new breakfast.

My message? What facts are you hiding down so that you can justify your current actions? What are you justifying so that you don’t have to take better care of your health?  Why aren’t you connecting the dots between how much we need to move our body and exercise to your own health and well being.  

As always, I hope some of this helps you out.

 

 

Where do you get your protein? (A look at red lentils).

90 % of the time I don’t eat meat or dairy.  Sometimes I am sad and eat a grilled cheese.  Sometimes I am at a wedding and have some cake.  Sometimes I order fish for dinner.  But 90 % of what I eat contains no meat or dairy.  I feel and look better when I eat this way.  More on that topic another day.

Today what I wanted to talk to you about is one of the most common questions I get from people who find out I don’t eat meat, “Where do you get your protein?”.  I confess, I use to wonder this myself about vegans and vegetarians.  We grow up with 0 % nutritional knowledge, and we are taught to live by Canada’s food guide which promotes both meat and dairy.  I can totally understand your confusion.

My protein comes from a variety of different sources (beans, lentils, nuts, nut butters, chickpeas and chickpea products like falafal and hummous, sometimes a protein powder, sometimes tofu, as well as many other foods we often don’t consider to have any significant level of protein).

After making a delicious red lentil stew last night I thought I would share with you some findings about red lentils!

I found a lot of this information on my favourite nutrition website:   nutritiondata.com

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-3-25-27-pm

At first glance we see that one cup of red lentils is a fantastic source of complex carbohydrates and fibres.  These are the type of carbs that provide us with sustained energy, as well as promote a healthy amount of fibre in the diet to maintain healthy digestive function (colon cancer prevention!!).

Also- one cup of red lentils also contains 18 grams of fibre and 37 % of my daily recommended level of iron.  

I think that stat is worth repeating.

one cup of red lentils also contains 18 grams of fibre and 37 % of my daily recommended level of iron.  

The average person should consume between .8-1.2 g/kg of protein, To make it simple let’s round that to 1g/kg.  So for me, if I weigh 65 kg then I need 65 grams minimum.  18 grams in one cup of lentils is coming close to 1/3 of what I need in a day!

We can also see that red lentils are INCREDIBLY low in fat and sodium, for those who need to watch this in their diet.

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 3.29.25 PM.pngThis next graph shows us that red lentils have a low glycemic load.   In simple terms this means that lentils will not have a huge effect on spiking your blood sugar.  Instead red lentils are used and digested without giving you the sugar spike and crash and burn that would follow have a higher sugar, higher glycemic load lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 3.31.32 PM.pngThis graph shows us that red lentils rank 58/100 in terms of their ‘completeness’ meaning containing nutrients.  As you can see red lentils are definitely high in some nutrients like potassium, phosphorus and zinc, and yet lacking other nutrients like vitamin A, and E.  (This is why we need variety in our diet :)).

 

 

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-3-33-54-pmI found this graph quite interesting as it highlights whether a protein is a complete or incomplete protein.  A complete protein means that it contains all of the amino acids, incomplete would mean it is missing some amino acids and needs to be combined with another food.  Red lentils rank really well!  86/100- and are missing only methionine and cysteine.  Nutritiondata.com also offers a handy chart that teaches you how to ‘complete’ a protein by combining your lentils with a food high in M+C.

So in the end, I feel pretty good about my nutrition choice to make a red lentil stew last night.  And guess what?  It was delicious!!  To be honest I just made the recipe that was on the back of the lentil package, but I thought I would point you in the right direction by looking at another red lentil stew that looks interesting to me:

Stew Recipe Here

I’d like to explore more vegetarian protein options in the future- stay tuned!

 

Video: Take a Stretch break at your desk!

It’s time to get up from your desk, off the couch, and give your body what it needs- a good stretch!

Use this video as a guide to stop your work every 30 minutes to give yourself 1-2 minutes of these stretches.

In this video we stretch the:

  • neck
  • back
  • chest
  • wrists

Remember- breathe deep when you stretch and hold them for 30 seconds!

 

Watch the video here:  https://youtu.be/ugwvv4eQXw0

 

The Effect of Exercise on Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Disease

What’s on your mind this week?

I feel very fortunate and grateful that a huge component of my day is I get to interact with a ton of people, especially because I do a lot of one on one training.

In the past week so many different topics have come up, but I wanted to share with you one I think you will find interesting.

First up:  Exercise has preventative effects against cognitive decline.

Physical inactivity is the most prevalent dementia risk factor in developed countries, associated with an 86 % risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as well as other chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes”.    

You know sometimes how you can get so specialized  in your specific field that something you know might not yet be common knowledge.  This happened to me last week as I was training a client.  The topic of support and accountability when trying to make a health change came up.  This somehow led to people not doing what they know they should be doing to keep themselves healthy.  And this led to our discussion on how exercise has a preventative effect against certain cognitive disorders.  The person I was speaking with wasn’t convinced when I told her research has shown exercise has a preventative effect against cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

On a side note- The list of what conditions and disorders exercise prevents is LONG and POWERFUL.  You can read some of them here:

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/

But back to cognitive decline…  In the introduction to this study it states “Physical inactivity is an important risk factor for cognitive decline in ageing and for Alzheimer’s disease (Norton et al., 2014). Conversely, exercise can convey a protective effect (Ahlskog et al., 2011; Geda et al., 2012; Wirth et al., 2014; Ngandu et al., 2015; Prakash et al., 2015; Tolppanen et al., 2015) even if initiated after midlife (Tolppanen et al., 2015).(1).  Apparently still poorly understand are the exact mechanisms happening within the body to provide these protective effects, but researchers know there are benefits to the cognitive function and memory of humans when exercising, and are currently exploring the ‘behind the scenes’ pathways.  Researchers are able to correlate that those who exercise have improved and sustained cognitive abilities, and those who are diagnosed with a disease such as Alzheimer’s have a better prognosis if they exercise regularly, yet it is still a tricky subject to figure out what exactly is going on here as there are so many variables and ethic considerations to a study like this.  For our purposes though, Simply put- the more exercise- the more blood/oxygen/nutrients sent to the brain- the healthier it will stay!

“Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that represents the eighth leading cause of death in people ≥65 years of age (Mayeux, 2003), affecting ∼20-30 million people worldwide (Selkoe and Schenk, 2003). Current therapeutics temporarily ameliorate the symptoms of AD, but few affect the underlying disease mechanism (Selkoe and Schenk, 2003). A number of epidemiological studies, however, suggest that simple lifestyle changes may be sufficient to slow the onset and progression of AD (Pope et al., 2003). A recent retrospective case control study (Friedland et al., 2001), for example, demonstrated that patients with AD were less active (both intellectually and physically) in midlife and that inactivity was associated with a 250% increased risk of developing AD”.  (3)

 

Here is more evidence:

  1.  In addition, exercise can reverse declining neurogenesis and memory function in aged rodents (van Praag, 2008; Marlatt et al., 2010; Vivar et al., 2013; Opendak and Gould, 2015), (Figs 1C and 2).  (1)

     

    2.  Exercise can improve insulin sensitivity (Lucas et al., 2015) and could thereby potentially contribute indirectly to improving memory function.  (1)

    3.   A combination of exercise and cognitive enrichment in mice increases protective effects against synaptotoxicity of amyloid-β protein in the hippocampus (Li et al., 2013).  (1)

    4.  Barnes and Yaffee (2011) reviewed 16 cohort studies and found a 28% decreased risk for all-cause dementia and 45 % reduction in AD dementia in those with higher activity levels compared with low.  (2)

    5.  Highlights from this study (as listed on the top of their front page):

    1-s2.0-S0361923016300557-fx1

    Photo credit from research journal listed in footnotes (5).  

    •          A physically active lifestyle reduces the risk of developing brain diseases.

    Exercise and physical activity have whole body anti-inflammatory effects.

    Exercise may be neuroprotective due to a reduction in neuroinflammation.

    Exercise intervention can reduce neuroinflammation in brain disease and improve prognosis.

    6.   If you need more convincing just read some of these articles on Google Scholar (or if you are into reading the science behind what is going on for exercise to protect against these diseases):  https://scholar.google.ca/scholar?as_ylo=2016&q=does+exercise+decrease+the+risk+of+Alzheimer%27s&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5.

    7.  On a side note if you are looking to read some research on what supplements are being studied to prevent cognitive decline you can find those here:  http://examine.com/topics/Cognitive+Decline/

    What I find very interesting is this chart listing how much exercise we need to do to get improved cognitive function: 

    ” Preliminary data in humans and evidence from animal studies suggest that improving brain function would require 3–6 months of moderate to high intensity training. In contrast, preservation of function can be best demonstrated with prolonged regimes where mild-to-moderate levels are more practical. A combination of both approaches seems feasible but has not yet been tested.

    Exercise regime Duration
    Preserving function Mild-to-moderate intensity, 50–70% of max. cardiac output, ≥3 × weeks, 30–40-min sessions (Erickson et al., 2011) ≥12 months
    Improving function Moderate-to-high >75% of max. cardiac output, ≥3 × weeks, 30–40-min sessions with high intensity intervals of 4 × 5 min (Maass et al., 2015c) 3 to 6 months
    Combined approach Long-term mild-to-moderate intensity training with brief intervals (for instance 1 week every 4 weeks) of moderate-to-high intensity ≥12 months

    SUMMARY of Chart:  we need to exercise moderately and regularly, as well as include some high intensity training to get a preserving function to our mental capacity, as well as improve it.  Most of this training should be in aerobic form (meaning it keeps your heart rate between 50-75 % of your hear rate max for the whole length of time ~ 30-60 minutes).  Remember, aerobic training doesn’t mean you have to jump on the treadmill, if you lift weights intensely and steadily for an hour with little breaks, play a game of squash, hike, ski, or dance you are working your heart in the same way.  

In conclusion, although there are obviously many variables that would affect a study of this magnitude (genetics, flaws in the studies, self reported data etc.) it is evident that exercise is playing a role in preventing cognitive decline.  Whether or not researchers can pinpoint and demonstrate exactly what is going on in our brain, at least for now they can get our butts off the couch to get some exercise.  

In today’s society with the majority of our population aging- how important do you see it being to get people up and moving in a fun way on a daily basis!  Keep your parents and grandparents active as best as you can.  

GET OFF THE COUCH AND MOVE REGULARLY no matter what age you are!!  🙂  Keep as much function as you can, and prevent these diseases!

(1)  https://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/139/3/662.full

(2)  https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BVRyCwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA147&dq=does+exercise+decrease+the+risk+of+Alzheimer%27s&ots=9p6w3ItSj5&sig=OV4gopUQ6YZHiH7kMtJzrUaqLZM#v=onepage&q=does%20exercise%20decrease%20the%20risk%20of%20Alzheimer’s&f=false

(3)  http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/17/4217.full

(4)  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361923016300557

 

 

Get Moving (In a Fun Way)- NEW IDEAS- and an Intro to Movement Geometry (Katy Bowman).

Sitting has been shown to be an independent risk for death, regardless of how much you go to the gym and do your formal exercise. Researchers are showing that even hitting the gym for an hour a day, but spending the rest of your day sitting leads to a drastic increase of all cause mortality. (Please note that exercise daily does decrease risk of death greater than not moving, but the common denominator is that prolonged periods of sitting are leading to overall increased risk of death).

It’s evident that we need to find ways to move more, especially if we have a job that requires us to stay quite sedentary.

My plan with this blog today is to inspire you to think critically about the time you spend sitting, and find ways to decrease sitting time and increase fun/moving time!

It’s time to get CREATIVE with your moving!! Here are five ways I have used to decrease sitting time on an average day.

  1. The Walk and Talk- With cordless phones/cell phones nowadays there is no reason why you can’t take a personal or business call while going for a walk outdoors or on your treadmill. Strap your shoes on before you make the call and get out and get the blood pumping. Even simpler, stand at your desk, or do a few stretches if you can’t get outside for a walk.
  2. Don’t sit on your couch while watching TV or on your laptop, sit on the floor! What I like to do if I have to spend time on my computer, or want to veg. out and watch a show, is I sit on a yoga mat on the floor, or on a big cushion. While sitting this way I find I move my body about every 10 seconds to readjust and stay comfortable. This is movement! It seems so simple, and yet just being in different positions that cause us to want to shift and move more is MUCH better than sinking into your comfy couch and not moving for hours.
  3. DANCE! Come on, don’t take yourself so seriously. One of my favourite ways to let loose, feel great, change my mood, and put a smile on my face is to throw on one of my favourite songs and just move/dance around the room.
  4. Where else can you sneak movement in? Can you walk to the store? Take the stairs and not the elevator? Carry your groceries home? Get a dog? Walk on your lunch break? Get a hobby that requires movement.
  5. Sign up for new things that challenge your body in new ways and new positions. I get into this topic more below, but for now consider how well rounded and healthy your body would be if you participated in a variety of movements: walking, weight lifting, tennis, yoga, dance, swimming, gymnastics. Find new ways to have fun and challenge all aspects of your body. You can find these activities for people of any age or ability, so don’t let that stand in your way!

Most importantly remember that movement doesn’t have to be anything structured, sweaty, or organized. Simply finding small ways to move more has a drastic impact on your overall well-being.

On top of moving more it’s now time to start thinking about the geometry of your movement. This idea was presented to me by Katy Bowman, a pioneer and free thinker in the world of human biomechanics.

Katy encourages us to think of our movement in terms of it’s value, efficiency, and ‘nutrient level’.   She talks about this concept in her book “Move Your DNA”. To summarize this idea let’s compare two forms of activity; running and dancing.

Running is done generally in one plane of motion (moving forward), in a repetitive fashion, using only some of our body parts and systems. If you imagined all the little cells and tissues looking to get exercised, have an increase in blood flow and get nourishing movement, you would realize that running is not the most nutritious movement to challenge our whole body geometry. Basically when we run there are many areas of the body that are getting stressed cellularly (in a good way), but many that are not! In one of her examples, it was either in her book or podcast she explains how running would is technically cardioprotective- a.k.a- it’s cardiovascular movement that is supposed to be good for your heart, but if we are always running for our cardio, we are only ever training the fraction of muscles and cells required to perform this movement- rather than training all our muscles and cells to work together to challenge and strengthen our cardiovascular system.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have dance. Dance is movement done in all planes of motions, using plenty of flexibility, strength, variation in speed, power, agility, coordination. You could imagine that after 5 minutes of dancing that the different movements you performed would wake up, increase blood flow, and tax a much greater component of your body then running. Dancing stresses (in a good way) more of our geometry to promote increased health benefits. We need a variety of different movements daily!

Katy encourages us to get as much ‘nutritious movement’ as we can for our body. This means finding ways to push ourselves, pull ourselves, hang from monkey bars, walk, run, move, hike, pick things up, squat down, and use our body in all the ranges it was meant to. More variety in our movement- beyond going to the gym and doing the same routines- is the best method of challenging our body systems to grow stronger and healthier.

Here is a fantastic video by Katy filled with drawings to clearly explain this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeN8efGa6C0

Here are some excellent examples of moving the body in variety of methods to strengthen all aspects of our human anatomy:

  1. Here’s a great video by a leading movement expert called Ido Portal. In this video you will see him explain his theory on the importance of movement, and you can watch him bring a group of people through a series of movements! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb7GjomO7Ns
  2. Check out how Naudi Aguilar from Functional Patterns moves gracefully and powerfully in his video found on the main page of his website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MIweO9f23A
  3. Here is a friend of my from the rock climbing scene here in Vancouver demonstrating some mobility exercise/movement examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ut12ukrW94

It is so important to begin moving well now, and maintain your functionality as you age in order to live a long and healthy life. Let me now how your journey is going!  Get Moving more often. in more ways, to stress more of your geometry!!