Puppies Are 10 Months Old, But Have the Strength of a Small Army!

Taking our "puppies" for a walk is an upper-body workout – literally.  On Mother’s Day, Jaclyn, Alex, and I took Beckett, Jersey, and Radar to Pleasure Point for what we thought would be a casual stroll on beach.  Instead, we had to separate the pups because of their power play – and our exhaustion as we tried to get them t

Did You Know That Exercise Boosts Kids' Academic Functioning? Part 2: Kids

Now that scientific research studies indicate that specific types of exercise affect specific parts of the brain – focusing, memory, executive functioning skills – it’s time to rethink mandatory PE in our K-12 curriculum. I just blogged about the amazing benefits aerobics and weight training have for adults. Kids should exercise for at least 20 minutes each school day to improve their learning capabilities and memories.

I recommend that my high school students do hardcore aerobics for 20-30 minutes before taking the SATs or ACTs. Besides waking them up, exercising gets their blood flowing throughout their teenage bodies and THEIR BRAINS, which according to recent studies shows immediate improvement in attention, executive functioning, and achievement in math and reading tests.

Charles Hillman at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recommends that schools consider organizing their bell schedules for students around the students’ need to have at least one hour of exercise per day.  He says that it’s best to spread that hour over the course of the school day to help keep students focused and to promote learning because the long-term effect of aerobic exercise has yet to be determined. 

While you might think that if aerobics is good for attention in the short term, then practicing skills for a sport would should be incorporated in the plan, research shows that this is not true.  When kids practice specific sports skills just before taking a test that requires sustained focus, these kinds of exercise actually reduce the students’ ability to focus on the test. Oops!

But don’t pull your child off her favorite team just yet.  Maria Chiara Gallota at the Univ. of Rome found that doing coordinative exercises 2 times per week over 5 months really does improve their ability to concentrate and ignore distractions.  So what does this mean? You don’t want them to do intense training before a test.

Hillman suggests that students who exercise regularly have a larger hippocampus and basal ganglia, which means that they perform better on attention tests.  These students are more attentive, have goal-directed behavior, and strong executive functioning skills. So they should indeed continue to play sports and work on improving specific techniques. Just schedule practices and trainings when they don’t need to be preparing for a test.

It would be ideal for students to have time to run around the building between classes and before big tests.  They’ll learn more, perform better, and probably be more attentive in the class.

Did You Know that Different Exercises Can Affect Different Parts of Your Brain? Part 1: Adults

We all know that we should exercise every day to stay healthy and fit. Right? And if you’re like me, you’ve got a million excuses why you simply can’t do it… EVERY DAY! Well, now there’s scientific research that shows that different kinds of exercises affect different parts of your brain – not just your muscles and cardiovascular system.  What’s really exciting about these studies is that you can improve your memory, complex thinking, attention, and more by doing specific types of exercise. Do I have your attention now? 

When I read that Univ. of British Columbia, Univ. of Groningen (Netherlands), Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Massachusetts General Hospital that studied specific exercise regimens and found that you can improve your memory and critical thinking skills by exercising specific parts of your brain, I was so excited I wanted to lay out a plan right then. And, of course, that was at 3:00 am!

So what kinds of exercise should you do?

Aerobic Exercise: Running and cycling 3-4 times per week (30 min. each)
 -- Increases hippocampus, which promotes new neuron growth
 -- Improves verbal memory (words on the tip of your tongue)
 -- Reverses shrinking of hippocampus (cause of memory loss)
 -- Staves off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia
 -- Combine Aerobics with Weight training to boost results even more!

Weight Training: Lifting weights 2 times per week (an hour each)
 -- Improves executive functioning skills (problem solving, reasoning, and planning)
 -- Improves associative memory (link faces to names)
 -- Combine Aerobics with Weight training to boost results even more!

Sports Training: Practicing coordination exercises such as balancing, synchronizing arm and leg movements, working with ropes and balls
 -- Improves concentration

High-Intensity Intervals: Exercising in quick spurts of all-out exercise (alternating between very high and easy in 30-second to 1-minute intervals)
 -- Reduces food cravings

Yoga: Practicing yoga poses
 -- Increases cortical thickness (sensory, cognitive, and emotional processing)

Hiking and Playing: Hiking on or off paths and climbing trees or and balancing on a curb
 -- Improves visual-spatial processing (mentally approximating distances to get across the street before a car approaches)
 -- Improves working memory
 -- Helps prioritize and process information to focus on what’s important
 -- Improves ability to coordinate between body position (orientation) and movement (navigation/locomotion) to help with balancing and thinking at the same time

Keep exercising to maintain these benefits.  In other words, if you fall off the wagon, your memory and executive functioning skills will decrease. So start by creating a workout schedule that includes a combination of aerobics and weight training for 3 to 4 days per week.  Then change it up by adding a day to hike, climb trees, do yoga, or play your favorite sport. Let me know if you notice a difference in how your brain functions!

5 Foods to Eat Before and After Exercise to Maximize Weight Loss

Donuts are not exercise foodOkay, I realize I’m not your sports model who works out all the time and stays super slim. 

Actually, I’m quite the opposite.  But when I read this article, I thought I’d share it with you because it’s simple to do and it seems to be working for me. 

I have read all kinds of theories about eating or not eating certain kinds of food after exercising, but nothing ever stuck because it was too complicated. 

So here is the CliffsNotes ® version for you:


  • Nuts (100 grams of almonds or walnuts)
  • Oatmeal with a handful of blueberries
  • Whole-grain bread with low-fat cheese


  • Whey protein and almond milk
  • Scrambled eggs with a glass of orange juice

Check out the source article at Lifehack.org to learn about why this optimizes weight loss.


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