Exercise and Memory

6 Weeks to a Younger You: Week 6

September 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm , by

Welcome to the final segment of our “6 Weeks to a Younger You” plan. This week is about finding your balance—literally and figuratively.

First, the literal. Your equilibrium starts to dwindle as you get more, ahem, mature. And that can lead to falls and fractures later—which can really affect the quality of your life and make you feel old. You can train yourself to have better balance by practicing it. Yoga classes are great for that, of course. Amelia and I are testing out our yoga Tree Pose,  right, and bending in the wind, as young trees do to weather storms. If you don’t want to be a tree, just practice balancing on one foot while you’re in line at the grocery store or brushing your teeth at the sink. Do it every day on both legs and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll get at it with practice.

Now the figurative.
Too often we go to extremes. We eat too much junk, then decide to starve ourselves in penance. We skip exercise all week because it’s humid and rainy, then go crazy on the weekend and end up with sore muscles or an injury. Balance is better.

That means eating healthy meals and not snacking all day long. You may have heard it’s healthy to eat several smalls meals throughout the day. But studies show that if you never give your digestive system a break, your body may not have time to remove damaged cells and toxic stuff that accumulates. And that can make you more vulnerable to diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Four to six hours between meals is optimal.

Regular exercise is key, too, not just for your body but also for your brain. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week for three months increases the part of your brain you use for short-term memory. Yes, regular brisk walks may actually improve your memory! For more details, read our interview with our favorite memory expert and neurologist Majid Fotuhi, M.D. here.

You need to balance your spirit, too. Are you a “doom and gloom” personality type? Studies show that Type D’s, as they’re called, have a higher risk of heart disease and are more likely to die from it, too. You can help yourself become a more relaxed type, like young trees that bend in the wind (see us above, hint, hint!), by practicing yoga or meditation, and getting more exercise, which is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Woo-hoo to a younger (more balanced) you!

Photo by Cassandra Tucker