Heart and brain walking

Memory Issues? More Evidence that Exercise Helps

We have written endlessly about the value of exercise for overall health.

If you read through the research, it comes up over and over again. It’s good for our hearts. It helps moods. It keeps our bones strong. It keeps our weight stable. It even makes our brains bigger.

Here is more evidence to suggest it also makes our memory better.

In this study, they took women between 70-80 years old, all of whom were complaining of memory problems, or as the researchers referred to it, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

These women were divided into three groups. One did aerobic exercise, one did strength training and a third was a control group. The treatment groups engaged in activity twice a week for 60 minutes.

Compared to controls the treatment groups both had improved verbal and spatial memory, with the best gains being in the group who did the aerobic activity.

The findings make sense. Move the body, move the blood, get more oxygen to the brain, as well as more fuel and nutrients for the old thinker to work.

But this might be the most important takeaway: “aerobic activity” wasn’t intensive marathon training. It was a 60-minute walk outside at 60% of max heart rate TWICE a WEEK. That’s basically a brisk-ish walk.

The average Canadian spends dozens of hours a week in front of conventional TV and the web combined, consuming media of one type or another. Converting just TWO of those to walking seems like an achievable goal.

StoneTree Clinic and the Coldest Night of the Year

The Coldest Night of the Year is a super-fun, family-friendly walking fundraiser that raises money for the hungry, homeless and hurting in 100+ communities across Canada. It’s been going on since 2011 and has raised over $12 million.

The walk is held on Saturday, February 25th, 2017. Participants can choose to walk 2, 5 or 10 km. The idea is to feel a small hint of the discomfort and challenge homeless people face, particularly in the winter.

The Collingwood event information is here.

You can support or join the StoneTree Team here.

Walks start at 5:15 PM at Trinity United Church and ends there with a light meal for all walkers and volunteers.

The StoneTree Clinic team has entered a team with the goal of raising $500 for Home Horizons.

Here’s How You Can Help

  1. Donate to the cause. You can do it right now, right here.
  2. Join us! Everyone is welcome to walk, and we’re happy to have you! Join on the same page, here.
  3. Spread the word. Tell your friends…and better yet, bring your friends!

This is a small thing, and an easy thing, and a good thing. Thank you for your support!

365 Days of Meditation

Over the years, many of you have read posts about my “New Years Resolutions”. It’s not uncommon for me to pick a habit that I want to solidify in my life, and then commit to a year of daily practice to incorporate it into my day to day activity. I’ve done it with exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, and gratitude, to name a few.

The idea of incorporating mediation into my routine has come up often, but the thought of sitting still and contemplating my navel always just made me cringe. Meditation just never made it to the top of the list despite an increasing stack of research that continues to prove the unbelievable value of doing it.

At the end of 2016, a year filled with upsets for many, the idea to re-center, focus on the good, and find some inner peace seemed like a good one. Mediation, it seemed, had finally made it to the top of list.

I’m now 30 days in to my 365 days of mediation, and my navel-gazing fears have vanished. Not only is it not as hard as I thought it would be, I’m turning my 10 minutes a day into 15 minutes for the next month.

I’m using a great tool to help: www.headspace.com. This online service is free for the first 10 days, and quite reasonable after that. Andy Puddicomb, the founder and “voice” of Headspace, has a very calm and soothing voice, and makes starting the process accessible and easy.

The Benefits

Meditation has become increasingly well-studied, with research linking it to better mood, heart health, focus, sleep and productivity, to name a few things–you can find links to numerous studies here.

But studies aside, do I feel any different?

Definitely. I feel like I’m having an easier time staying on task. I feel like I’m much less distracted in conversations. I feel like I can find words better, and see the solutions to problems faster. Those are all just feelings, mind you, but they’re enough to keep me going for the next 335 days. I’ll keep you posted!