9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

“Of all things I ever lost I miss my mind the most.”

I used to get a good chuckle over that quote, until I got a little older and started the “where did I put that” game.

You know that game.

Where, you wonder inwardly, did I put my keys? Where did I put my phone? Where did I put my glasses? Where did I put my husband?

It starts in your mid-thirties and seems to get worse as you age.

You chalk up to being menopausal, or middle-aged, or perhaps it’s because to lack of sleep, or because of kids, or to stress.

But, what is really happening is that our brain is aging.

Science tells us how well our brain ages is 25% due to genes, while the other three-quarters is dependent on our lifestyle choices.

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Menopause and Our Brain

Research shows that the female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a key role in brain function.

An article in the journal Neurology describes estrogen as “a key element in the work of the brain [that] helps direct blood to parts of the brain that are more active.”

Since that hormone declines during menopause, one would think so would our brain function.

However, according to a six-year study of women who were still menstruating, perimenopausal, or postmenopausal, most of the women improved their test scores of brain function over time.

That is, even women with declining estrogen were able to improve brain function.

Should you have memory slips or difficulty concentrating, research suggests a variety of potential underlying causes.

These include disturbed sleep, extra stress, or depression.

For instance, if you’re awakened by night sweats several times during the night, that’s often enough to interfere with your ability to concentrate or remember what tool you were trying to find in the garage the next day.

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

1/Exercise

One of the best tips to keep your brain young is to exercise. A combination of aerobic and strength spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells.

This, in turn, slows down our mental decline.

TIP: Aim for 3-4 times of aerobic work a week, with 2-3 sessions of weight training.

2/Stress less

Stress is bad for your brain (as well as your waistline, your heart and your relationships).

In a paper released on stress and the brain, Jeansok Kim of the University of Washington found that stress can “disturb cognitive processes such as learning and memory, and consequently limit the quality of human life”.

TIP: Try meditation, yoga, or 5-minutes of daily deep breathing (come on – we all have 5-minutes we can spare for our l’ brain).

3/ Break your routine

Do something outside of your comfort level. Challenge your brain with new activities.

Your brain is similar to your other muscles. For example, if you were to do the same exercise program, day-in-day-out, you would stop seeing results after a period of time.

This is because your muscles have become accustomed to those exercises.

The same goes for the brain.

TIP: Put the crossword puzzle away (if that’s what you do everyday), and instead, learn how to use a new app on your phone (or for some, how to use your phone).

funny-getting-older-quote-Fitness-with-PJ

4/ Get some sleep

Sleep is the only time the brain has to re-boot itself. It’s when we consolidate new memories and restore and recover from what has happened to us during the day.

TIP: Boost your sleep by turning off your electronics in the evening, performing yin yoga, meditating, and getting outside during the day so your circadian rhythm is activated.

5/ Hang out with friends

We are social animals and spending time with others is important for our brain health.

In a 2012 Dutch study it was shown that loneliness increased the risk of dementia by 65%. Some doctors even believe that loneliness is worse for your health than smoking, being an alcoholic and being obese.

TIP: Volunteer, join a group, plan activities in advance with friends and family.

West Coast Trail Love

6/ Work

If you are near retirement you might want to re-think that. People who continuously get mental stimulation build their brains up faster and keep them built up.

TIP: If you are retired, consider going back to work again, but this time doing something that you have always wanted to do. Not only will you be stimulating yourself mentally, you will also build that social network that is so important for brain health too.

7/ Improve your blood pressure

High blood pressure in your midlife increases your risk of cognitive decline in your later years.

TIP: Use medication, if prescribed, as well as lifestyle changes such as controlling your weight, your stress, getting plenty of exercise and eating right.

fresh broccoli in heart shape on table

8/ Eat better

You are what you eat, so don’t be cheap, easy or fake.

TIP: Eat foods on a daily basis that are rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals.

9/ Improve your blood sugars

Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and other types of dementia because cardiovascular problems associated with diabetes are also associated with dementia.

TIP: Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin D, folate, B6 and B12 vitamins, as well as exercise regularly.

Workouts can also balance your blood sugar levels.

 

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Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

So, you’re in your 40’s or 50’s. Congrats, God willing you have reached the midway point of your life.

But, now that you are here does that mean that you need to start training your age, start training with precautions and restrictions because you might break?

First a Funny Story

My loving husband, who is 10 years older than me, gives me a heads up with every passing decade as to what to expect both physically and mentally for the years ahead.

For example, when he turned 30 he enlightened me that my body was going to start to change shape (in case you are doing the math in your head I meet the love of my life when I was 19 years old. 25 years later he’s still with me.).

Sure enough at 30 years my hips grew wider (a lot wider) and things shifted. I was happy though. Prior to that I was kinda built like a boy. Now I had me some curves.

At 40 he then warned me that simple tasks, like getting up and off the floor, was going to start getting harder. As well, things that I completely take for granted now, like reading the small print on food labels, or menus in a dark restaurant, would go the way of the dodo.

On top of that he coached me that I will also experience a big decline in my energy levels and I won’t be able to, nor want to be able to, be in a constant state of motion like I was in my 20’s and 30’s.

Sitting at 44 years now, with 45 staring me in the face, he has been, and is right on target.

About-PJ-Fitness-with-PJ

I’m Old So Therefore I’m Frail

Many people, including loving husband, think that as we age we tend to slow down and do less because of aging. For the most part this is complete and utter BS (sorry loving husband).

Much of the physical frailty attributed to aging is actually the result of inactivity, disease or poor nutrition.

The good news, many of these problems can be helped (or even reversed) by improving lifestyle behaviors, such as exercising on a regular basis and eating a whole food diet.

The Effects of Aging

Aging muscles:

  • Shrink and lose mass with age. This is called sacropenia and it is a natural process, but a sedentary lifestyle will also speed this nasty process up.
  • The number of our muscle fibers decrease as we age, which means that it takes longer to respond in our 40’s and 50’s than it did in our 20’s.
  • The water content of the tendons decrease which makes our tissues stiffer and less able to handle stress.
  • The heart muscle becomes less able to propel large quantities of blood quickly which means that we tire more easily and take longer to recover.
  • Our metabolism slows down (this is how quickly our body converts energy) which means we don’t burn fat like we used to.

Aging bones & joints:

  • The mineral content in our bones decrease (for both men and women) making our bones more fragile.
  • The connective tissue that attaches bones to bones (called ligaments) become less elastic which in turn decreases our flexibility.
  • Cartilage, which provides the cushioning between our bones and in our joints, changes. With these changes comes less water content and a joint more susceptible to wear and tear (ie. arthritis)
  • Our joint motion becomes more restricted due to these changes in our tendons and ligaments making us all around less flexible.

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

 

1. Build a fitness base.

If you are just starting a fitness program you need to build a base first. This is extremely important, especially in our later years as it is much easier to get injured and it takes longer to get better when we do injure ourselves.

Why is it easier? You can thank the decreased water in our tendons and ligaments, as well as our restricted range of motion in our joints and our loss of muscles mass and muscle fiber size.

 

My recommendation: perform a strength training workout 3 times a week, 1 set an exercise, and then the next week do 2 sets, the week after add about 10% more weight to what you are lifting and then on the fourth week add another set.

2. Lift heavy.

Once that base is built, or if you are already fit, start lifting heavier but for fewer reps. If your joints and cartilage have already encountered years of wear and tear (which we know that they have by mid-life), and they don’t have the water content that they used to, a weight training program with lots of reps will only inflame the joint further.

Instead, lift a weight that you can maintain good form with, but are starting to crack by the end of your rep range of 12-15.

3. Watch out for long distance, repetitive workouts.

Cross training is your goal in your later years. If you like running, great run but keep the mileage down and perform other activities as well. But, if you run and run and run (or bike and bike and bike, or swim and swim and swim) be prepared to hurt.

Unless you are one of the blessed individuals who can perform repetitive long distance workouts without injury you are going to inflame those joints of yours and send yourself to physio.

In fact, even my younger clients that only ran for their workouts prior to seeing me have a longer history of injuries than those who run as well as lift weights.

And if you are running for weight loss, just stop right now. Cause it ain’t gonna work as well as other forms of exercise will.

4. You ain’t dead yet.

I, personally, know that I could kick my 20-year old’s ass. I am stronger, faster and more focused at 44 than I was at 24.

So, once you have built that fitness base, layered on it for a year I want you to GO FOR IT – cause you ain’t dead yet.

With the advances in nutrition and fitness that we have seen in the last 5 years we can get better and live longer and play just as hard as we did in our 20’s and 30’s.

Keep training everyone.

 

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Gym Etiquette – Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins

Gym Etiquette – Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins

Gym Etiquette – Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins

Lifting properly is only one area in the gym that you should be working on. What every woman (and man!) needs to know about proper gym etiquette.

The other day, when I was at the bank the nice young fellow behind the desk (jeez that line made me sound old, when the hell did I get so old?) suggested that I write about gym etiquette.

Apparently he recently had a few experiences with gym-goers who did not respect those around them because they were oblivious to the sins that they were committing.

funny-workout-bag

Gym Etiquette 101

If yoi see someone lacking some gym etiquette it could be because of one of three reasons:

  • First, they are new to the whole gym-going experience and don’t know any better. It’s like when you were learning how to ride a bike. The pedalling part you knew about, cause you’d seen it, but the getting on the bike, staying on the bike and braking was not something that you could visually teach yourself. You could eventually learn, however it would take a lot of band-aids and heart ache, or better yet, it could be taught to you by someone who has been there and done that.
  • Second, there’s the gym-goer who is a frequent participant of going to the gym, but is just unaware of the fact that they are one sweat drop away from having a dumbbell thrown at them.
  • And finally, there’s the third type of gym-goer who couldn’t care less about those around them and strut around like they own the place. This blog is not going to help them. A dumbbell dropped on their toe on the other hand…. just saying.

Now, I don’t hang out in gyms much anymore (one of the perks of having a gym in my own home), but I do remember the usual gym etiquette sins, and they can be boiled down to these seven.

The-Workouts-Fitness-with-PJ

1/ Thou shall not hog all of the equipment.
Yes we get it, you like to super set your program, however just make sure that others around you can work in on that piece of equipment as well. For new gym-goers, if you would like to use a piece of equipment that someone else is on simply ask them “Can I work in?”, and work in when their set is done.

2/ You shall have no cell phones on the gym floor.
There is nothing worse than seeing “selfies” being taken and texts being exchanged back and forth while working out. Not only is this just ridiculous to witness, it is also distracting and takes away your own workout. Trust me, your Instagram account will survive the 45 minutes without an update.

3/ Remember, you are not the only one.
If you like to listen to music, great. Just please no singing, humming, whistling or even head banging. Leave that for the drive home.

4/ Honour your workout partners.
Don’t clang your weights together, drop your weights on the ground with drama, and grunt and groan through your set. Yes, we are struggling too with our own workout, but you don’t hear us sounding like a wounded Beluga whale while doing so.

5/ Thou shall not smell.
Working out can be stinky business and that’s why they make this amazing product called deodorant. So, please use it.

With that being said don’t swing the other end of the pendulum and douse yourself in perfume, cologne, hairspray or stinky body lotion prior to either. While you may believe that you are smelling like a garden of roses, the rest of us are holding our breathe – which FYI is really challenging to do while working out.

6/ You shall remember to wipe.
Sweating is messy business, so please wipe up after yourself. To take this one step further I would encourage you to bring a towel to the gym and sit on it (when you have to sit, cause let’s face it you came to the gym to get away from sitting), drape your towel over any gym equipment that you use and use your towel as a barrier between you and the mat.

On a completely separate note, if you are sick please stay at home. The biggest cesspool of germs originate in two places: kids and gym equipment. Please don’t add to the cesspool.
7/ In the end, nobody is watching you.
Probably one of the biggest fears a new gym-goer has is that others are watching them and judging them. With this said you will be happy to hear that that couldn’t be farthest from the truth.

In fact, everyone in the gym is far too concerned with what’s going on with them that you are really just a blip on their radar. Nothing more. So, fear not and go forth and be fit.

 

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