Learning shouldn’t stop when you graduate from high school, college, or university. One of my favourite expressions is, “You learn something new every day.”
With our aging population, so many studies are now reporting that learning new things can help stave off the debilitating effects of dementia and Alzheimer disease. How? “By strengthening the connections between parts of your brain…challenging activities strengthen entire networks in the brain.” (1) What’s good for your body is good for your brain: use it or lose it applies to your muscles, and, it seems, also applies to your grey matter.
I tried a new activity last month: drawing. My daughter loves to host “drawing parties” with the family. We meet at the dining room table, and she brings out all her fancy drawing paraphernalia - markers, pens, pencil crayons, crayons, varied “how to draw” books, etc. And a colouring book for me. You see, my husband, son, and daughter are all fantastic artists. Me, not so much. I usually get overwhelmed by the process, so she knows that I’d prefer to colour while they create their works of art.
And what about physical activity? How does learning a new fitness routine affect your brain? Well, it helps. A lot. It "improves cognition and helps people perform better on things like planning, scheduling, multitasking and working memory.” (1) Another study reported that improvements in cognitive function, memory and motor skill coordination happen after just 30 minutes of exercise. "One 30-minute session of physical activity can improve the brain’s plasticity, or its ability to change physically, functionally, and chemically. Positive changes in the brain were sustained 15 minutes after exercising.” (2)
Which brings me to Essentrics. Have you ever tried it? When people ask me what I do, my response often causes a funny look on their faces. As I begin my elevator pitch of Essentrics, they typically interrupt me with, “Oh, I already do yoga.” One of two things is happening in their brains: 1. they’re misunderstanding what Essentrics is, and jumping to the conclusion that it’s a type of yoga; or 2. they do understand that it’s different but they have no interest in trying something new. Either way, their brains could use a little Essentrics.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m always happy to hear that people are active and have a fitness routine. And I know, not everything appeals to everyone. You’ll never see me at a CrossFit gym, but several of my good friends practically live at theirs. That’s cool. BUT, all I ask of non-Essentrics folks is to try it at least once. It is a great workout for body and mind. The slow, purposeful movements require you to stay fully present during the workout. In addition to improving brain functioning, Essentrics also helps with body awareness.
I’m asking newcomers to Essentrics to at least try it, which is why Essentrics with Amanda is hosting an Open House Week next month. September 10th-17th - 6 classes in 3 locations are free to anyone who’d like to try Essentics. And there are 5 different workouts offered during the Open House - you can read a description of each here: Group Classes.
If you think you’d like to try something new with Essentrics, just drop me a line (EssentricswithAmanda@gmail.com) to reserve your spot. Try it, you just might like it. And your brain will thank you for it.
Essentrics instructors from across North America learn a new Trademark sequence from creator Miranda Esmonde-White. We're always learning :-)
Amanda Sterczyk is a Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), an Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) Fitness Professional, and a Certified Essentrics® Instructor. She offers in-home personal training in central Ottawa. Amanda specializes in helping older adults maintain and increase strength, flexibility, and mobility. No fitness goal is too small, in her opinion.