Sunday, February 9, 2014

Train your Brain.

 Train Your Brain!

As many of you who do read my blog  already know, I have been learning Qi Gong in my local park from a group of elderly Chinese women. I can’t ask any questions, because none of them speak any English, but I am learning just the same.

Qi Gong involves many, very slow, hand movements. I am still having trouble learning one of the more complicated ones. It looks so fluid when the others do it, but when I try, it is another story.

When I went home this holiday weekend, I learned what I had suspected; many of these Qi Gong exercise are neurological exercises, or exercises to improve balance and nerve-to-muscle communication. I found this out while I was teaching my mother some of the Qi Gong moves. She loved it, and she commented that a few of the moves immediately removed some of the chronic pain she has been experiencing for 20 years. My mom is in great shape – at age 65, she has less loose skin under her arms than I do, a trait I am very jealous of. But when it came to some arm movements and some simple exercises that involved hand movements switching, switching from arm to arm, she had a very difficult time executing them. This confirmed my notion that the Qi Gong exercises are excellent brain and coordination stimulators.
Moving one’s hands in front of the face is a technique I have used for years for my clients over age 60. Brain-to-muscle communication starts to break down after a certain age, making it difficult for an older person to work out and to perform other tasks. Exercising and watching your hands helps preserve this brain-to-muscle communication.

Why does your brain matter so much when you exercise, you might ask? Doesn’t exercise have to do with the body and not the brain? I have been asked this many times, and I have actually had a few fitness directors tell me to get on with my clients’ weight-loss workouts and cut it out with all this balance and coordination stuff. But I know that Olympic athletes and exercise professors who conduct personal training begin their training regimens with brain-training or balance and coordination exercises. Some of these highly qualified instructors will keep a client exercising on the floor and practicing balance exercises for weeks before having them do a single squat.
Why?  It is because the brain is your single most important tool in your own health and fitness. I cannot stress enough that as simple a thing as having a positive attitude toward working out can improve your results when you exercise. I speak more specifically about this in my seminar, “Thought for Food,” and also about how food effects the brain.
Always remember that when your balance is in healthy form and your brain-to muscle-communication is at it’s peak, you are able to build more muscle and get more benefits out of your exercise program than you ever will if you ignore this very important starting point of fitness.

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