How stretching keeps your brain and body sharp

You may regularly stretch your body, but are you stretching your brain?

If you’re not, you’re only working half of the equation that could keep you strong, sharp and independent. Here’s why…

Exercise is good for brain health as well as your muscles and bones. That may come as no surprise. Certain exercises are more valuable than others when it comes to brain health, however.

The novelty of exercises plays a part in the benefits you’ll receive too. The obvious is that if you’re used to walking, riding a stationary bike or other similar linear movements, they aren’t doing your brain as much good as something new or specific activities that require you to react.

The first time you do a new exercise, stretch or movement the more your brain stands to gain from doing it. That’s because the newness will wear off. Whether you’re learning a new ballroom dance or yoga pose, for instance, your brain will be be making different and unique connections the first time — or first few times — you go through the motions. So never be afraid to try something new, like this…

Think about it like this…

Reacting to catching flying objects like Frisbees or balls thrown by someone else and throwing them back to a moving target may be more beneficial than catching and throwing a ball while standing in the same spot.

That said reacting to a square dance caller might be more beneficial than rehearsing the same dance over and over again seeking perfection. Essentially, once you know a sequence well, the act of doing it may not be as beneficial to your brain. To engage both movements that cross over the midline of the body and that cause you to have to think quickly, try a boxing workout. If your trainer calls out the punches in 1-2 as opposed to telling you to jab-cross, for instance, you’ll be making the most of brain power as you tune up the rest of you.

Editor’s note: Did you know that cholesterol is essential to keep your brain firing on all cylinders? To learn more about cholesterol’s role as a “hidden nutrient,” click here for a preview of Dr. Cutler’s new book, The Cholesterol Super-Brain.

Debra Atkinson

By Debra Atkinson

Debra Atkinson Is the founder of the Flipping 50 movement and host of the Flipping 50 podcast and TV show available on your iphone, ipad, and Apple TV. She is the author of four books including You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women and Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust.

Debra is a contributing blogger on the Huffington Post, ShareCare, Prime Woman, and Livingbetter50. She provides solutions for women approaching 50 or who have already turned the corner on what to eat, how to move, and the mindset for lifestyle change with hormone balance that will make the next years as the best years. Find her resources here.