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Boosting Brain Health by Harnessing Neuroplasticit...

Boosting Brain Health by Harnessing Neuroplasticity

An estimated 6.9 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, and the number and proportion of Americans with this diagnosis is [expected] to continue to grow in the coming years. The population of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to grow from 58 million in 2022 to 82 million by 2050. (1)

Our brain has the ability to CHANGE throughout our lifespan and to help keep this big muscle in our head healthy; exercise is one of the best things we can do to help with mood, mindset, and angiogenesis (the ability to new blood vessels and is correlated to neurogenesis).

Additionally, adding brain games to exercise can help facilitate the neuroplasticity timeline. (2)

Neuroplasticity Timeline:

Here are a few tips on adding neuroplasticity drills into your moving environment(s):

  1. Tell Stories! Clients love to hear what you’re up to, and this type of interaction can also impact social age. Simply tell a story about what you’ve been up to this week or that day and turn it into a “pop quiz” while they’re doing an exercise.

Example: “I was out on my brand new green stand-up paddle board on Saturday. I had the dog riding on the front, and he was in his dog life jacket for safety. We had so much fun, and I couldn’t believe that he didn’t fall in!”

Task(s): “[Client’s name] Can you spell the word green for me? Progression: Can you spell the word green backwards?”

  1. Call Phone Numbers: A simple memory drill using your cell phone while client(s) are moving. Have them call out your phone number starting from the area code. Progression: Switch up the sequence of numbers and/or have them try to call the phone number backwards. (3)
  2. Play the Clock Game: Have clients use a circular object (non-moving) on the floor, such as a BOSU or balance pad. Ask them to touch the place on the object of the time you call with a hand or foot. Progression: Call a specific hand or foot and ask them to touch that part of the clock. (3)

 

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Beware that you don’t do too many of these drills in a given training session. You want to stress, but not OVER stress, the brain. So, when/if you see clients feeling a little frustrated, go back to something they feel very comfortable and confident with.

I hope you’ll try adding some neuro aerobics to your classes and sessions to help slow cognitive decline and strengthen and support those synapses.

References:
(1) Alzheimer’s Facts & Figures Report, 2024, Alzheimer’s Association
(2) Ryan Glatt, Pacific Neuroscience Institute
(3) BOSU® Fitness LLC (2014). Level 1 Mobility & Stability for Active Aging. Akron, OH: Hedstrom Fitness

I used to sell cheeseburgers, true story. As a self-proclaimed “Certified La Pistola” I’ve been in the international fitness, wellness, and Pilates education business for over 17 years, traveling and speaking worldwide. As the Founder of Level Up MVMT, I help instructors Level Up their programming, movement, and coaching skills through creative curriculum development, research-backed strategies, and user-friendly plug-and-play formats. Find me worldwide as a premier presenter and teacher for Pilates Anytime and at fitness and wellness conferences. And yes, I’m a former corporate marketer who specialized in fast food clients. I left the biz and took a BIG LEAP into studio ownership, wellness, freelance marketing, and much more in 2005. My joy is creating community, championing and supporting others, and delivering my passion for Pilates and integrated movement. NCPT Certified, Balanced Body® Principal Educator, BASI™ Graduate, BOSUÒ Elite Master Trainer.

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