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Don’t forget to exercise your brain

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association / American Stroke Association. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I was in college, step classes were the class to take. They were everywhere, at every gym and my church even had them. Exercise class options certainly have progressed in the last two decades. Now you can do anything to get fit these days. Now there’s boot camps (which are very popular in my area), spin, barre, kickboxing, Pilates, CrossFit, paddleboard, yoga, hot yoga, ashtanga yoga, and hatha yoga… You name it, you can find it.  It’s great because if you are a social person and some allow you to be social. If you like to use your exercise time to reflect and have time to yourself, there is an exercise for that too (walking elliptical). Don't forget to exercise your brain I decided to try something new and different two years ago — I saw there was an adult tap class at my daughter’s dance school so I thought I would give it a try – I loved it as a kid and thought, why not? No, I don’t have to wear a leotard! I just wear regular workout clothes. That’s usually the first question I get when people find out I take. I really like the class and it flies by. I noticed when I do other types of exercise my mind wanders. When I was doing yoga the instructor always said to “clear your mind”. Most the time I would be making lists in my head of everything I needed to do when I got home or what to buy at the grocery store. I finally found something that I can’t think of anything else while I’m doing it. I’m constantly counting or trying to work out or remember the steps.

While I am getting great exercise in tap class I’m also benefitting in another way. It’s actually great for my Brain Health and helps prevent scary things like memory loss, stroke and even dementia! Yikes! So dance can challenge my brain by trying to remember those complex dance steps, but it also gets my blood pumping too! Think about that blood just flowing through my brain and nourishing it! Keeping up with my teacher’s dance moves  sometimes gets me more tired mentally, then physically. It can be hard to keep those turns and jumps in the right sequences for an hour straight!

Don’t forget to exercise your brain!

Many people focus on strength and having a healthy heart, but don’t forget about your brain too! We all want to live independently when we get older. And that means taking care of the brain now. I never thought about this before, but it’s not too late to start. You can help prevent memory loss, retain brain processing, dementia, and stroke. It takes 7 simple steps to have a healthy lifestyle —called Life’s Simple 7.

  1. Eat Better
  2. Physically Active
  3. Don’t Smoke
  4. Lose Weight
  5. Manage Blood Pressure
  6. Control Cholesterol
  7. Reduce Blood Sugar

I recently got checked and my numbers (No. 5-7  in list above) are in a great range, so I really just need to focus on keeping up with my exercise and continuing to eat healthy. Healthy living can also prevent heart disease! Everyone has times of forgetfulness and that’s normal (Can you say mommy brain?!), but you don’t want that to slide into a problematic range.

The American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association defines a healthy brain as a brain that is functioning at its best, free from disease and is receiving normal blood flow and oxygen levels.  When the blood flow is disrupted or blocked your brain can become damaged and once those brain cells die they can never be repaired. You can lose memory, have a harder time processing information, and even have trouble walking and talking.

Tap dancing is definitely harder than I remember from when I was younger, but I’m so glad I decided to take it. My teacher expanding her classes for adults and it’s a great idea! I get my social time, physical exercise, and of course the mental benefits. And of course, I’m a little quicker in my step!

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