Legs and Strength
Studies have been done to study effects of leg strength on brain function, in particular cognition: thinking, learning and memory. These studies were done over 10 years, using twins.
All physical activities help with our muscles releasing hormones that encourage our nerve cells to grow. We have nerve activity that sends messages via impulses all through the body - including muscles.
Yes, muscle tone can & does improve with the help of our nerves. And this could be part of an explanation as to how muscles have memory, as nerve impulses which create "tracks", seem to create memory.
We Don't Have To Do Much
One of the important factors was that we only need small improvements for cognition. So it's ok if we start small with exercise.
As a yoga teacher, even with only a weekly class, I can see dramatic improvements for newcomers, in muscular strength, which of course includes the ability to balance. And it may only be simple moves that we are starting with!! And I also notice that concentration improves fast. And that people are just looking better.
How it all works
Any physical movement that we use, even as simple as reaching for something, works our muscles. Because our muscles are doing the work, from brain impulses telling them what to do. Of course, this all goes on within the secret language of the body. We are unaware of it happening.
Start easy with fidgeting
If you have been unwell, or are very unfit, one of the very first things to do, is to simply start moving your body. If you can only sit:
- shake your arms
- then shake 1 leg at a time
- move your extremities up & down
- turn your head from side to side
- get up and put something away
- walk to the letterbox
- if you are recovering from illness or injury, do a wee spurt here and then, as you can.
Every bit helps, & it's also called "fidgeting" doing this. It can burn up a couple of hundred calories a day, doing "fidgeting". Your body will be grateful for these little moves. I have done all this myself, to start recovering from severe illness.
Body - mind connection
I'm very conscious of people getting their body to move, so that they can easily improve their quality of life, & improve their physical strength. Early on as a yoga teacher, I noticed that there was a direct relationship between physical strength & emotional strength, which I guess can be translated as :
"healthy body = healthy mind"
And, of course, I know it for myself. If I don't move....I don't feel good.
And as a yoga teacher, I actually don't think that yoga is the only way to keep fit. I truly believe that whatever suits you, your personality, the time that you have available, & your life, is the best way.
But for cognition, & general muscle tone, we need to move
- Squats are great because you can just pause & do 10-20 without taking up much time
- Holding a yoga warrior pose is good because your muscles have to work a bit differently to keep you in that pose
- Walking briskly as you move around your day is good.
- Moving creates an energy, & uses muscles
- Going for a walk improves cardiovascular health, & helps clear the head.
Move To Stay Young
If you watch children at play, they are always moving. To stay young, we need to move too. Another important thing: exercise thickens our skin which means we get less wrinkles. (just saying......). When I had a long period of inactivity from a damaged foot, I started to get wrinkles. It was actually disheartening.