Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Exercise, the Brain, and Sustainability

I have so many topics I'd like to write about...but lately I'm having to share the computer with my daughter as she climbs on me and begs for PBS kids online.  (-; 

For about three months, I've been going to a gym.  (it is not the eco gym in article I'm mentioning)--too far away for me.  But, it it worth mentioning.  A gym that powers itself through solar paneling and from the exercisers--through the exercise bikes and treadmills.  What an idea!  Oregonian article about Portland's Green Microgym

I want to mention exercising, because, it has been one aspect of "health" that I have neglected for a very long time.  For three years, I've been gardening, eating more organic foods, cutting out processed foods, even making homemade cat and dog food for the pets as well, but I have not been much of an exerciser. (and I need to be since heart disease runs in my family)

So, finally, I got a gym membership.  The Bally's near me costs $30/month for my membership and I get free childcare.  Perhaps Bally's isn't the best?  But it is very close to where I live and affordable and so far I am loving it! 

So, I hop on the eliptical and "read".  I just finished the book, Spark by John J Ratey.  And I have to say, that it was inspiring to me.  I learned a lot from it.  The basic idea is that exercise makes you smarter, helps students in school, helps you cope with stress, anxiety, depression, Attention deficit, addiction, and slows aging.  Not to mention---self esteem! 

"In SPARK, John J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer's. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run---or, for that matter, simply the way you think" (review from Amazon)

So, this has been my latest challenge, working exercise into my routine. I have the goal to go to the gym 3x/week for an hour of exercise each time with at least 30 minutes of cardio.  My success has varied from week to week depending on how busy we are, but I can't stress enough how important it is to exercise. It is not enough to just change ones eating habits alone. Exercise makes just as much of a difference to one's health as food.  It boosts the immune systems, helps make bones stronger to battle osteoporosis, helps prevent cancer (reduces free radicals??) I haven't really lost "weight" yet, but I do feel my muscle mass growing, my energy and moods improving, and I have a feeling I can do more--It makes me less intimidated by taking on physical challenges-realizing that there is "good pain"...And there is a a great feeling after warm-up...to find a rhythm in which I can sustatin for quite a long time.  I haven't had that kind of confidence in quite a long time. 

There have been times, I've felt good in that way...when I was 17 and biked everywhere around town.  Biking=freedom and independence and I became quite fit then.  And another time, after my daughter was born and I put the kids in the stroller and walked a lot--(to get them to nap)  and I had my daughter in an ergo carrier most of her first 2 years while I chased my toddler son around.  ergo carrier

So, I do have some "muscle memory" and that helps me now, as I am trying to get into shape.  It is easy to get discouraged.  Results are not always as immediate as I'd like, but nonetheless, at 2-3x/week.  I am getting stronger and at the very least, feeling like I am doing something for my heart.


The Green Microgym generates as much as 40 percent of its own electricity from solar panels and exercise machines like stationary bikes.


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