WHAT EXERCISE DOES TO YOUR BRAIN

The NHS website suggests that all adults from 19-64 should partake in 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week and include an additional strength workout on 2 days of every week.

The suggested way to accumulate your 150 minutes is with 30 minutes per day for 5 out of the 7 days each week.

What the NHS website doesn’t tell us is why they recommend this exercise schedule.

Exercise doesn’t just affect your body, when I say body I mean muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. It also has a direct effect on your brain!

The below TedTalk gives a detailed account of how exercise has immediate and long lasting effects on the brain.

Neuroscientist, Wendy Suzuki, expalins that exercise is the single most transformative thing you can do for your brain and gives the following 3 reasons why…

  1. Immediate effects upon your brain with a single workout include increased levels of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline providing improved mood

  2. Improve ability to shift and focus attention

  3. Improves your reaction times

These are things are pretty much common knowledge and generally accepted as the benefits of exercise.

She then goes on to explain how exercise changes the anatomy, physiology and function of the brain for longer lasting effects.

Regular exercise directly affects your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Now unless you’re a bit of a medical geek or general body/brain nerd this probably isn’t going to mean much to you. However, keeping these areas of the brain strong are going to guard against neurdegenerative disease and normal cognitive decline through ageing - again with the big words.

In a nutshell, neurodegenerative diseases include;

  • Dementia

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Prion disease

  • Motor neurone diseases

  • Huntington’s disease

  • Spinocerebellar ataxia

  • Spinal muscular atrophy

The moral of this TedTalk, bringing exercise into your life will not only give a happier and more productive life today it will protect your brain from incurable diseases and in this way it will change the trajectory of your life for the better. So, not only do we need the physical benefits of exercise to keep our hearts, lungs, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones strong. We need exercise to keep our brains strong too.

LETS TALK ABOUT SQUATS

One of seven fundamental human movements, squats are something all able bodied humans have the capability to perform.

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Arguably, one of the first movement patterns we learn as infants. The ability to squat is something that is lost, by many, over time. As we start school and progress into working life we spend most of our time sitting. This can have detrimental consequences for the health of our bodies.

The human body was never designed to sit in a chair for hours on end. The natural human resting position, not only for our ancestors but many cultures today, is the deep squat.

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WHAT'S THE DAMAGE??

GLUTES:

Spending hours on end in a chair quite literally "turns off" the muscles of your butt! This means they no longer work properly when you walk, run, jump, stand up, sit down or do anything else for that matter.

ABS:

That wash board stomach you dream of.. that's in jeopardy too. Your abs, or the abdominal muscles - this includes all the muscles in your torso and not just the ones the make up your 'six pack', are involved in holding you upright. When you sit for extended periods of time they get lazy, switch off and lose strength and tone. Bye bye washboard stomach.

HIPS:

Your hips are the foundation of all of your mail cement patterns. They provide stability and balance. Lack of mobility and strength at the hip can cause serious injury.

WEAK BONES:

Your bones require resistance to drive nutrients into them and promote the development of new bone. Resistance training i.e. weight training has been shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Quite simply the squat is a great indication of the health of your joints and flexibility of your muscles. By being sedentary for extended periods of time your body loses its ability to function through its full ranges.

THE FIX:

Be more active. Move more every day. Avoid your chair.

 

Colm Buckley - Bench Press

An 8RM Personal Best for Colm during gis last Bench Press session. Most recently we have been working on proprioception (awareness of ones own body in space) and maintaining good tension within the body during lifts.

With this focus and the improvements Colm has made to his bench press position, he has increased his 8RM by 10kg within 2 sessions. It just goes to show that it's not all about how much you can lift but how you lift it.

Good form will always lead to safer, stronger lifts whilst limiting the chances of injury and imbalances.

Don't chase the weights!!! Get your form right first and the weights will follow.