Monday, May 13, 2013

More Brainpower!

Remember back in grade school discussing the brain & the different parts of the brain? Chuckling at the possible fact that boys used the left side of their brain and girls used the right side of their brain. Let's take a quick look at the five sections:

1. The cerebrum which controls your thinking and voluntary muscles 
2. The cerebellum controls your coordination including balancing and movement.
3. The brain stem is the main channel for sending messages all throughout your body. It regulates breathing, blood circulation and the involuntary muscles such as the regulation of the heart 
4. The pituitary gland controls hormonal growth and the hormones responsible for metabolism 
5. Last but not least the Hypothalamus which regulates body temperature

The Nervous System is so complex with millions of neurons connecting to other neurons and as you grow the brain creates more connections between the neurons making it easier to perform many other functions. So when you were presented with those brain-teasers, you were making more neuron connections in your brain! Technically your brain is getting bigger! 

Well, just like those brain teasers regular exercise has been shown to substantially improve memory also showing that certain types of exercise improve different cognitive functions.

In a study conducted at the University of British Colombia, they recruited dozens of women between the ages of 70-80 with mild cognitive impairment randomly assigning them to six-months of supervised exercise in three different categories: lifting weights, brisk walking and stretch/toning groups. 

After six months, the toning group scored worse on memory and the women who walked or weight trained performed greater on any of the cognitive test with a variation that the women who walked showed greater gains in verbal memory then those who lifted weights.

This suggested that different types of exercise improve different types of cognitive function. "Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor in the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia who oversaw the experiments with older women, is that for the most robust brain health, it’s probably advisable to incorporate both aerobic and resistance training. It seems that each type of exercise “selectively targets different aspects of cognition,” she says, probably by sparking the release of different proteins in the body and brain."

Christa Petersen is currently the Student Blog Coordinator for SCAN students & enjoying every minute of it! She currently is finishing up her Bachelors Degree at Montclair State University and will be entering into her Dietetic Internship at the College of Saint Elizabeth this coming fall. Christa is an outdoorsy person found running on a sunny day, growing a herb garden, working out to high intensity workouts and creating recipes that have optimal nutrition in them. She also has dabbled into keeping up-to-date her own blog named "Teaspoon of Delight" incorporating healthy recipes, tools for portion control and fun facts sheets to leading an overall healthy lifestyle. She can't wait to become a Registered Dietitian & share her passion with many other individuals!