Friday, August 24, 2007

Avoid Alzheimer's With Abundant Exercise

It takes more than crossword puzzles to keep a healthy brain!

We've all heard that mental exercises exercising memory and problem solving can help to keep our brains healthy and vibrant.

What researchers have found out is that physical exercise not only is good for the heart and general circulation, but also contributes significantly to keeping the brain young.

As professional service providers dealing with challenges involving people as well as data, we need that brain power to perform our work effectively.

After earlier studies on rodents showing that those animals that spent a lot of time running in exercise wheels had better brains than the sedentary rodents, studies were begun on humans.

Scientist measured maximal oxygen uptake (a gauge of aerobic fitness) in 55 subjects during walking and treadmill tests. They used subjects with fitness levels from sedentary to those in peak-performance fitness. The physically fit subjects had less age-related brain-tissue shrinkage than the inactive subjects.

With the help of MRI's (magnetic resonance imaging), the researchers saw that the tissues affected in the brain that are crucial to memory, learning, and carrying out ideas in the mind were very different in the various subjects. (frontal, temporal, and parietal regions)

These abilities are the ones that start to decline as early as middle age, particularly in new situations. Studies have shown that increased physical activity in middle age can help to prevent or delay the onset of diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of senile dementia, in which there is a marked decline in brain function and memory.

Researchers found that combining strength training with aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes had the greatest impact on cognitive function. (University of Illinois)

What concerns me is how the brains of the computer and video game generation will be affected by the lack of physical exercise. It is estimated that nearly half of young people ages 12 to 21 are not doing vigorous physical activity regularly. Less than one fourth of children are getting at least half an hour of any type of daily physical activity in school. School children spend an average of 4.8 hours per day on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games.

Increasing exercise for all ages would be a great benefit for all of us. Healthy brains increase productivity and full engagement in whatever we are doing. Combining physical activity with memory exercises gives the best results for a healthy brain.

What are you doing now to improve the blood flow and oxygen delivery to your brain?

Deciding on what type of exercise you would enjoy and DOING it on a regular basis will determine your short and long term thinking skills.

Struggle Is Not Required! Seven Key Sources

Struggle is not required for success. Does this sound impossible to you?

Personally, I grew up with the philosophy that you needed to work hard to succeed. This doesn't really serve me today.

What I've done for you is to identify seven key sources of struggle. For each of these struggles, I'm sharing a remedy. Finally, we'll look at what the rewards are for squelching these struggles!


Struggle: When there is urgency, there is hurry. There is strong emphasis on what is "in your face" and the important things tend to be ignored. A decision made in this mode of thinking can often be one that is not grounded.

Remedy: Take a moment to breathe. Remind yourself that some of those things don't need immediate attention. Just that little pause can give you great perspective.

Reward: Satisfaction in being able to move forward in a purposeful, directed way.


Struggle: When we feel there isn't enough, we tighten up. We may feel as though there is no support available. Perhaps the financial base isn't what we feel is necessary. How will we get all that we need?

Remedy: Remember that there is always enough. It may be that you just need to do the project in phases as the support comes to you. As you relax into the challenge, more solutions will come to you as to how to get the results you want.

Reward: Your attitude will have a positive effect on those around you. What a great legacy to spread to those who are learning from you!


Struggle: Who hasn't found themselves going in circles trying to decide what needs to be done first?

Remedy: List your items and prioritize. Use the Covey quadrants relating to importance and urgency. Once you have decided on those items that are both urgent and important, you know where to start. Work down your priority list from there.

Reward: What a wonderful thing! You may have moved yourself so fluidly through the most pressing, important items that you have the freedom for more personal time.

Once you realize you are able to do this, you'll feel more confident scheduling your free days ahead of time, knowing that you'll be in the position to enjoy them!


Struggle: Have you ever over promised and then found that you are getting lots of pressure for the finished product at the last minute? Sometimes in the interest of pleasing others and showing how good we are, we say that we can do things in minimal time.

Remedy: This is super stress that is not necessary if you take the time to schedule realistic deadlines. It's important to factor in any obstacles that can get in the way of smooth completion so that you are able to move toward the deadline at a solid, steady pace.

Reward: Clients are pleased that you have met or exceeded your promised due date. Those around you are thrilled that you are not "biting their heads off" as you did when you were overstressed with deadlines you were not meeting.


Struggle: We can really cloud our thinking with lots of self-reminders of how we performed poorly on previous projects. It's easy for those negative memories to dominate because they are the painful ones. How difficult it is to feel passionate and motivated when this heaviness is hanging over us.

Remedy: Take the time to think of those times that you were successful. Notice what you are doing well now. At the end of each day, really acknowledge yourself for what you did accomplish. It's easy to forget about that when we are making exaggerated notations to ourselves of our shortcomings for the day.

Reward: Passion comes alive when there is room for it! Getting rid of those gremlins jumping around in our heads can make a huge difference in our energy level!


Struggle: When we have fear of being criticized, it is easy to try to please everyone all the time. We tend to moderate our words, our actions, and look over our shoulder to see who's watching. This is a sure-fire way to stumble at what we're doing (we're not watching ... too busy looking to see who else is watching). How can we be creative when we're so concerned who may not like our original idea?

Remedy: We may please some of the people all the time. We may please all of the people some of the time. But we won't please everyone ALL of the time. Just accept that fact. Complete your projects with your creative juices flowing. Be aware of new ideas you may have that will make things go better.

Reward: Your creativity will grow exponentially. When you look for it and accept it without fear, you will come up with more innovative ideas.


Struggle: How frustrating it is to feel as though you are supposed to be doing three or more things at once!

Remedy: As is usually the case, you need to pause for just a moment to get a sense of just what it is you need to be doing right now. Some things that may seem huge are really not that important in the scheme of things. Perhaps some of those items can be taken care of by someone other than you. Focus on what you know needs to be taken care of.

Reward: Others will respect you when they see you taking charge in a centered, empowered way. You will find that you are able to feel accomplished because you were not swept away by extra issues that were not best handled by you at that time.

Struggle isn't required. Are you ready to believe it? This isn't just for business, it is for sports, family and just succeeding at life.

Notice yourself. Watch when you are flowing through your day and when you are banging your head against the wall.

Remember the struggles we've discussed here and try out those remedies. The rewards are well worth it!

* 2007 Suzanne Holman, MAEd and Exuberant Productivity.Com

Friday, August 17, 2007

Exuberant Productivity Blog In Top 100!

Personal Productivity Required Reading List: 100 Kick-butt Lifehacking Blogs

Lifehacking is all about finding ways to streamline and improve your life. These bloggers can help you do just that, offering clever tricks and tips for making your everyday life more effective. Check them out for some of the best ingenuity the Internet has to offer.

Check out my description, #84

Suzanne Holman writes about getting quality time, minimizing stress and avoiding perfectionism in order to achieve productivity.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

7 Tips For A Fully Engaged, Exuberant Day

We cannot do anything to increase the hours in a day.

Time management? Who can accomplish that?
Time just keeps on keeping on throughout each day.
We have control only of what we do during our 24/7 each week.

What is essential is being fully engaged when we are working and making wise choices in using our mental, emotional and physical energy. Making the most of our brainpower keeps us thinking clearly and creatively. That is what makes the difference in how productive we can really be.

“Companies with higher than average employee engagement scores enjoy 15 percent lower costs due to higher productivity” PeopleMetrics

Here are seven tips that can move you in the direction of being fully engaged.

1. Start your day with premium fuel and continue throughout the day.

Eating a healthy breakfast gets your metabolism going and sends needed fuel to the brain. And choosing some protein as part of your breakfast can give you a kickstart even better than caffeine. Protein boosts your dopamine level that stimulates brain function.

2. Create your intentions for the day. Getting a clear picture in your mind of how you’d like to see the day transpire is a powerful tool. It’s more than just having a to-do list of items to be accomplished. It’s actually stating how you would like to see things happen during the day.

3. Observe your own and others’ emotional states for greatest effectiveness. With that awareness you are more likely to have a rational response rather than a reaction coming out of your own emotional reaction to what someone has said or done. Taking that moment for observation can save hours of effort trying to mend a working relationship.

4. Be fully focused on each task rather than multitasking.

Multitasking can negatively affect your emotional state and your immune system. Studies have shown that our brain actually shuts down one function to do something else. We are fooling ourselves to think that we can effectively perform two tasks at once.

5. Incorporate some physical activity throughout your day. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly keep their brain functioning at a higher level due to the increased blood flow to the brain. Take short breaks throughout the day just to stretch and move around. Also plan more extensive exercise a few times a week.

6. Debrief your day and really acknowledge your accomplishments.

How often have you been down on yourself at the end of a day, thinking about all that things that you did not accomplish instead of focusing on what did get completed? You can do this in your head or for an even more powerful effect, take a moment to list your acknowledgements to yourself. When we ramp up the attention to those positive things in our life, it keeps us going in that productive direction.

7. Prepare for sleep and make sure you get enough.

Our brains are not ready to fall asleep immediately after leaving the stimulation of the computer screen. And although we sometimes fall asleep in front of the television, watching television is not a good way to move into restful sleep. If you have problems falling asleep and staying asleep, you might try an exercise that works for some people. Name the states, working your way up and down the coastlines and across the United States. This is challenging enough to keep your mind from worries of the day, but boring enough to allow you to fall asleep.