Healthy Hollywood: Get Movin' Monday – Exercise Your Brain!

Rafael Nadal on the court during Wimbledon in London on June 26, 2010 Rafael Nadal on the court during Wimbledon in London on June 26, 2010

We know to eat right and exercise our bodies, but did you know our brain needs to cross-train?

Healthy Hollywood recently attended the “Nutrition and Brain” conference held in Washington, D.C. Besides two days of learning how to feed our brain to keep it sharp, there was also a seminar on brain exercises.

Fitness expert and author of Pillars of Health, John Pierre, led an early morning workshop on brain fitness. Hundreds of medical types gathered and spent the next hour playing various games to sharpen their noggin.

Many of the activities involved a partner, and you would face each other and hold a tennis ball in between your palms and then shadow each other’s movements. Trickier than it sounds! Another exercise was throwing the ball in different directions, so partner had to always guess and react to where it’s going next.

Another group of exercises were directional, John would shout out simple commands and it’s surprising how many times your body moves one way even though you heard something different. It was kind of like Simon Says for adults. He also had us count by two’s as we did different exercises and once our partner messed up the count, you would have to pick up where he or she left off.

“Just as our physical performance increases with different and challenging fitness routines. The brain also benefits from “mental cross training” to help expand its problem-solving skills, memory, and creativity. The mind can become complacent after a while doing the same activities day in and day out,” explained John.

“Anything that requires coordination and dexterity is stimulating to the brain, but once you get used to it, need to change it up,” adds John to Healthy Hollywood.

So, for you gym rats who only run on the treadmill, you might be toning your body, but your brain needs a tune-up. “Rote exercises, like the treadmill, are terrible for the brain, because you’re doing the same thing over and over. Tennis and dance are excellent, because you’re moving in different directions.”

Healthy Hollywood knew there was a reason I found tennis dudes like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to be smart and hot!

Ping Pong and badminton is also good because of the eye-hand coordination.”

A simple exercise to try at home is standing on one leg, and once master that you can try and move the lifted leg around. That’s going to stimulate the brain.

For more on brain exercises and other wellness tips, check out www.johnpierre.com

-- Terri MacLeod

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