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Fit Life: A 3 step plan for better brain health

Keeping you sharp as we battle the pandemic
Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 10:00 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - On this Fit Life, we focused on the health of your brain health while visiting with Pamela Hernandez of Sharlin Health & Neurology.

Here’s what Pamela told us;

Your 3 Step Plan for Better Brain Health

In my new role as the Medical Fitness Director for Sharlin Health and Neurology, I’ve learned a lot about how to upgrade workouts for better brain health. There are three important steps to creating a fitness plan focused on brain health.

Step 1 is Cardio. Making sure you get some cardio on most days is the foundation of brain health workout plan. Your brain is an organ and depends on good blood flow. Research also shows that cardio reduces inflammation and stress and stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that is like Miracle Gro for our brains and is critical in the development of new brain cells.

Step 2 is to do more open circuit activities instead of closed-circuit strength training activities. Doing strength training two times a week using mostly open circuit functional movements is the next level of the plan. An example of a closed-circuit strength activity would be a leg extension machine. You move back in forth in a closed pattern. An open-circuit would be a squat that requires you to utilize multiple muscle groups at once and allow you to move in multiple dimensions.

Step 3 is to add a novel skill or cognitive challenge. You need to regularly change up your workout to keep your brain and body challenged. When you learn a new movement pattern, like a squat with a press or new combo in kickboxing class, you provide an important stimulus to your brain. You can also challenge your brain by adding a cognitive challenge, like counting your reps by 2s (2, 4, 6, 8) instead of your standard 1, 2, 3, 4.

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