Saturday, March 12, 2011

Exercise = Brain Power (E=bp)

While most of us hit the weights hoping to increase muscle power, it turns out we're exercising our brains too! Did you know that Albert Einstein thought up the theory of relativity while riding his bike? Even Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates found benefit in doing their thinking while walking (1).

Coincidentally, the part of the brain that allows our body to perform exercise (the motor cortex) is located only a few millimeters from the portion that is responsible for thought and reason (the prefrontal cortex) (1). Studies monitoring the brain during moderate-exertion cycling showed increased activation of impulses in both areas, with the most cognitive benefits coming in the recovery period (2). There is also speculation that regular exercise has a cumulative effect on improved cognition (3).

So, the next time you are in need of a brain-power boost or really contemplating something important, hit the gym and sweat on it!

I now have to jump on the elliptical to try to recall what the theory of relativity actually is:)


1. Nieman, D. (2011). You asked for it: Question authority. ACSM's Healthy & Fitness Journal, 15 (1), 5-6.

2. Lambourne, K., Tomporowski, P. (2010). The effect of exercise-induced arousal on cognitive task performance: a meta-regression analysis. Brain Res, 1341, 12-24.

3. Yanagisawa, H., Dan, I., Tsuzuki, D. (2010). Acute moderate exercise elicits increased dorsolateral prefrontal activation and improves cognitive performance with Stroop test. Neuroimage, 50, 1702-1710.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Travel Workout with Resistance Bands by Carmen

Thanks to Haute Girl & guest-blogger, Carmen P., for sharing this on-the-go workout:
We're all busy women - sometimes work, sometimes family, and hopefully vacations take us away from our routine of hitting the gym or getting our workout in at home . This is a quick workout for when you're in these situations and stuck in a hotel room. It's easy to pack a resistance band to get in a great full-body workout---they even fit in your carry-on!
To warm-up:
Jog in place for 30 seconds
5 Push-ups
High Knees for 30 seconds
5 Jumps Squats
Quick steps 30 seconds - fast as you can move your feet while staying in one place.
Repeat x 2
Full - Body Exercises:

  • 12 Bicep Curls - Stand with hip-width stance on top of RB. Holding bands or handles, staring with arms down and palms facing forward, keep arms close to the sides of your body, curling band up to shoulders, then lowering back to the starting point. This is one repetition.

  • 12 Lateral Raise - In the same stance used for bicep curls, hold ends of the RB, arms relaxed and with palms facing toward your body. Raise the RB as high as shoulder level keeping good form - arms straight, back straight, chest up and out and neck tall - slowly and controlled lower arms back down.

  • 12 Front Raise - Keeping the same stance as used before - hold the ends of the RB in front of you resting on your thighs, palms facing toward the body. Raise bands to shoulder level, then slowly lower to starting position. Remember to keep good form!

  • 12 Chest Flye - Wrap the ends of your RB around your hands a couple times so that when you stretch the band out it becomes tight - hold arms straight out in front of you, palms facing downward. Push hands outward in a flye motion, keeping arms at shoulder level throughout movement. Return hand to the center in front of you, this is one rep.

  • 12 Triceps Extension - Step on one end of the RB with your right foot and hold the other with your right hand behind your head, arm up and elbow bent. The resistance band should be behind you. Wrap any excess of the band around your hand. You want the band to be tight from the start of the exercise. With upper arm staying in one place, bend at the elbow so that your palm stays facing inward and lower arm is extended straight up. Slowly lower back down, as this is one rep. When finished with set, switch sides.

  • 12 Squats with RB winged - row - Take a wider than hip- width stance, feet on top of RB. Hold ends of RB at your sides with palms facing back. Squat down so that knees stay behind your toes and your rear looks as though you're sitting on a chair. Knees should be bent at 90°, and back should be straight with chest up and out. While in the squat, bring hand up so that they reach the arm pits, lower arms back to starting position and stand up straight. This is one rep.

  • 12 Leg abductions with RB - Stand on RB with feet close together. Hang on to each end of the RB with arms at your sides, palms facing back. Find balance so that you are able to stand on only the left foot. Flex your foot so that your toes points a little bit upward, contracting for strong muscles in your right left. Push right leg straight out to the side, and slowly bring back to the center without letting the foot touch the ground. Repeat for duration of reps, and switch to other foot.

  • 30 sec. Scissors - While laying on your back, put handles of RB around the feet. Hold the slack of the RB tight, against your chest. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground, and flex your feet so that your toes are pointed towards you. Alternately, but with a quick pace, move your feet up and down - keeping your feet flexed and abs tight the entire time.

  • Repeat 3 times!
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