For the better part of the last two months on this blog and my Proodian Healthcare By Design radio program, I’ve been discussing what we need to do to change our behavior and transform our bodies. At the center of change and transformation is the human brain.
That little three-pound organ that rests between our ears is a miracle that needs to be respected and protected.
Using the books Change Your Body, Change Your Brain by Dr. Daniel Amen and The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman as central resources, I’ve talked about the role that sugar, fat, caffeine and various brain foods play in maintaining proper brain chemistry.
Brain chemistry enables us to make better nutritional decisions, and what we eat has a direct impact on how we feel and how we think.
The single most important thing we can do to enhance brain function and keep our bodies looking young and feeling vibrant is exercise. As Edward Stanley, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, once said:
Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.
The human body is a machine perfectly designed for physical motion. Our muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, joints and organs weren’t just slapped together so we could sit around and do nothing.
Just a couple of generations ago, physical activity was a natural part of life. Our grandparents and great grandparents often hunted for food, tended to a garden and grew their own food, built their own homes, and walked everywhere.
Today, we’re no longer farmers. We went from the agricultural world to the industrialized world. We sit behind the wheel of a car and drive to work, where we sit behind a desk until we sit down to drive home and sit on the couch. Then we sleep for eight hours.
This is one step away from being in a coma. Such a high level of immobilization causes muscle atrophy, ligament shortening, disc dehydration and lack of blood flow to brain.
And we wonder why 75 percent of all healthcare costs are due to chronic illness. These conditions aren’t just caused by poor nutrition and high stress levels. They’re caused by a lack of exercise, which isn’t just bad for the belly and the backside.
A sedentary lifestyle – being a couch potato – is terrible for the brain. Sitting is the new smoking.
How does exercise strengthen the brain according to Dr. Amen?
Exercise encourages the growth of new brain cells.
Exercise enhances cognitive ability at all ages.
Exercise enhances our mood, our sense of well-being and our relationships with others.
Exercise helps alleviate depression, which the World Health Organization predicts will be the number two cause of lost quality years worldwide by 2020.
Exercise calms our worries and our anxiety. Keep in mind that anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults and 1 out of 10 children in our country.
Exercise helps to prevent, delay and lessen the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, now one of the top five causes of death in America. It attacks the brain and causes the formation of plaque. Exercise is part of the medicine that can prevent this from happening.
Exercise eases the symptoms of ADD, ADHD, autism and any of the spectrum disorders that affect more and more children each day.
Exercise leads to better behavior in adolescents. Researchers at the University of California-Irvine showed teens who are more physically fit were less impulsive, happier, and more likely to do good things with their lives.
Exercise helps us sleep better and overcome sleep disorders.
Needless to say, regular physical activity is a recipe that’s right for everyone. In Part 2 of this post, I’ll discuss what can happen to the body and brain when we don’t exercise, and I’ll tell you what types of exercise are most effective when it comes to strengthening your brain.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.