Jeanne Tripplehorn 06.10.1963

Posts Tagged ‘aerobic exercise’

How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain: Not Saying We Told You So

4.20.12

 

More news about how exercise is so great for your brain!

 

Check out this week’s New York Times Magazine for a great piece on how exercise can actually make you smarter! Yes, even for those of us with Menopaused Minds!


What do the Super Bowl and Menopause have in common? Madonna!

2.5.12

 

We’re not your typical Super Bowl fans. But this Sunday, there’s something you may want to witness…Madonna, at age 53, will be performing during the halftime show!  We hear pom poms will be involved so this may be your chance for 12 minutes of aerobic exercise.

 

Aerobic exercise is just about the best thing you can do to maintain that memory muscle… it’s no wonder Madonna still remembers all of those lyrics and choreography.


If this isn’t proof that life’s not over when you hit menopause, we don’t know what is!


Extend Your Stroll, Expand Your Memory

2.7.11

This just in from the New York Times Health beat: regular walking can actually expand the hippocampus.


 Researchers at the University of Pittsburg found that among sedentary men and women, those who walked for 40 minutes, three times a week had a 2% increase in the size of their hippocampus (on average).  For those who didn’t walk,  the hippocampus shrank about 1%. And these weren’t 20-somethings: the average age of participants was 60. Walkers also improved their performance on memory tasks more than non-walkers. Something to think about the next time you’re debating between taking that stroll or sitting on the couch.


Check out Paula Span’s column for more info and links to the study.


Save Your Menopause Brain and Combat Anxiety

2.2.11

Have you become a worry wart? Are you feeling more antsy lately? Well, you’re not alone. Women often complain that as they hit menopause they generally feel more anxious.  Some women get angry at themselves and think that by now they should have their act together. By 50 they should be getting better at managing life’s ups and downs – not worse! Well, even if there aren’t too many downs and plenty of ups, there’s a biological reason for increased jitters. The increase in anxiety is typically attributed to changes in estrogen and progesteron, hormones which have been shown to buffer against the body’s response to stress. After menopause, these hormones just don’t protect against stress like they used to.


Stress isn’t just bad for you mood…it’s bad for your brain, too. When you experience stress, your brain produces steroids to communicate to the rest of your body that there’s a problem. If these steroids stick around too long, they can literally kill your brain cells – especially those in the hippocampus (Remember? It’s the part of your brain that is super critical for memory). Over time, stress may even result in a wasting away or shrinking of the hippocampus.


When you already feel like your mind is turning to mush thanks to menopause, who wants to lose a single cell of their hippocampus??


The good news is that you can combat the effects of stress on your brain through… exercise! Yes, exercise, again.

Research suggests that aerobic exercise can make you less anxious. It looks like the brain cells you produce while exercising are better at dealing with stress.  The bad news is that it takes awhile to produce these stress-resistant cells. For rats, it took somewhere between three and six weeks. It’s still unknown how long it takes for humans.


If you know that you’ll be facing something stressful in the next month or two (like paying taxes or results from your kid’s college applications), do yourself a favor and protect your hippocampus. Start exercising now to get your brain into combat shape!

Improve Your Menopause Memory With Exercise

1.29.11

If you think that as you get older your brain cells slowly die and there is nothing that you can do about it – you’re wrong!


There is a way to create new brain cells … aerobic exercise!


Aerobic exercise can create new brain cells in the region of the brain that is critical for memory – the hippocampus. It’s the hippocampus where learning new information and retaining it takes place.  In fact, it’s where Alzheimer’s disease begins.


The Salk Institute in La Jolla can be thanked for discovering the initial link between exercise and new brain cell growth.  Researchers compared adult mice who ran on hamster wheels to those who didn’t. The mice who ran on the wheels developed significantly more new brain cells in the hippocampus.


But the key here is that the exercise must be aerobic!


To  improve your menopause memory you need to get out there and huff and puff.  Increasing blood flow and getting oxygen to the brain is how this all works. With increased blood flow to the brain comes more oxygen and more growth factors from all over the body that contribute to the birth of new cells, including brain cells. And, as I tell my patients, walking the dog and stopping at every tree doesn’t count as aerobic. You’ve got to break a sweat at least 150 minutes a week. This can be broken up into smaller chunks of time, like  20-25 mintues a day or 50 minutes three times a week. For brain cell growth, the magic really seems to happen after exercising regularly between 3 and 6 weeks.


Now, I know exercise is not everyone’s cup of tea– finding the right form exercise is critical to both staying injury-free and motivated. My favorite form of aerobic exercise is the elliptical machine. It was designed to be easy on the knees and you can use it rain or shine.  With your arms and legs going and your ipod plugged into 80s music, you can feel like you’re dancing.  The problem is that you may also feel like singing.  As my husband likes to point out, I may be wearing headphones but he isn’t.  If you have balance problems or physical difficulties, you can try a recumbent elliptical machine.  You sit while working out so there’s no danger of falling. My patients have told me that they used them in physical therapy and were hooked in no time. If you have access to a pool (an indoor pool if you’re in those chilly climates), you can also try jogging in the water.


When the weather is nice (or if you don’t want to buy a piece of exercise equipment that costs more than your first car)  power walking is a great form of aerobic exercise. Bend those arms, pump them like pistons, bend the knees and step lightly heel to toe to save your knees.  You may look like you urgently need a restroom, but just think of those new brain cells…and toned legs!


So stop complaining about your menopause memory, get an okay from your doctor and get out there! Aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for to keep your brain fit.