Heart – Mind Connection

Hi and welcome to another week,

It’s been a tough week of classes with the session on Wednesday (all the long duration cardio) really standing out to me as a tough challenge.  I have to admit to finding it quite noticeable when we ‘flip-flop’ from the shorter, power based cardio efforts (such as 15 cals each minute or even the 35/cals in 2-minutes) type efforts to the longer efforts that are greater than 4-minutes in duration.  No matter what way we ‘flip-flop’, the changeover always reveals an area of weakness in my training that leaves me sucking for air and really wishing I was ‘anywhere’ else…but then soon enough the session is over and I am pleased to have overcome the challenge.  It is funny how this works – in the moment it is the worst thing imaginable, at the end getting to the end is something to be proud of!

Getting to the end of these cardio efforts in the gym might be helping with something else as well.  There has been a heap of stuff on Neurology.Org over the past couple of years about the connection between ‘heart and brain’ connection – specifically whether or not being “FIT” (or otherwise) is a contributing factor to avoiding neurological issues later in life.  Now obviously everyone has an ‘opinion’ here but whatever those might be more and more studies seem to be coming out supporting the healthy body = healthy mind corollary.

According to a study posted a few weeks ago on the same site (Neurology.Org -the abstract is here if you want to read it:  http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2018/03/14/WNL.0000000000005290) getting your cardio fitness ‘UP’ might just be the difference between living a long, HAPPY life and just living a long life.  I will try to summarise it as simply as I can:

Way, way back in 1968, Swedish researchers evaluated the cardiovascular fitness of 191 women aged between 38 and 60.  They assessed their fitness level in a pretty simple way (please, no debate as to whether boxers are fitter than triathletes who are fitter than weightlifters who are fitter than ping pong players…none of that was considered relevant with regards the study and I doubt it is!) – they threw them on a bike erg (which I guess would be a 1968 version of a spin bike because I couldn’t find any photos) and ‘tested’ them!

As well as it being a ‘simple’ test – peak workload on a bike erg is pretty simple – they were also pretty simple with the ‘classification’ of fitness – ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ and ‘High’.  All of the subsequent results were based on the initial fitness assessment ‘groups’ each of the participants was assigned.

Each of the people in the study were examined ‘periodically’ (another 6x times at intervals ranging from 4-years to 12-years…I am unsure why there was a variance in assessment periods) and over time forty-four (44) of the participants in the study developed a neurological condition (dementia).

Now this is where it gets interesting and the time you are spending on the assault bike (or rower, or ski-erg) might become a little more meaningful to you.  The incidence of dementia in the ‘LOW’ fitness group was 32%, it was 25% in the ‘MEDIUM’ group and just 5% amongst the group who had been placed in the ‘HIGH’ fitness group.

Further.  The incidence of dementia was ELEVEN (11) years LATER for people in the ‘HIGH’ fitness category than people in the ‘MEDIUM’ fitness category.

So not only are you way less likely to get dementia if you are at a ‘HIGH’ level of cardio-vascular fitness than a ‘MEDIUM’ level, in the event you DO get it the onset will be a LOT, LOT later.  And that is comparing ‘HIGH’ to ‘MEDIUM’…interestingly enough the difference between ‘MEDIUM’ and ‘LOW’ really doesn’t seem to be as significant.  The question is I guess is what exactly is a ‘HIGH’ level of cardio fitness?  Maybe that’s a question for another week!

Not sure what you guys think but all of this sounds like important information to me.  The study quotes that being at a ‘HIGH’ level of fitness decreases the risk of dementia by 88% when compared to ‘MEDIUM’ fitness…now I can’t quite figure out how they plucked that number but I am going with it…it seems quite amazing and has given me a lot of reasons to jump on the assault bike.

I guess all of these details tie in to all of the ‘STUFF’ I regularly talk about on here about the ‘important’ things we all need to do in terms of living a healthy life – getting to the gym a few times each week and eating like an adult – and how they really are super SIMPLE.  Not that they are EASY (after all, who wouldn’t like to get a little bit more Netflix and chill with icecream time and a little less assault bike and broccoli time) but they are SIMPLE…and we all know the basics…the part where we each get off our collective butts and do it, well, that is inside our own control!  (BTW – if you don’t think you know the basics, that’s why we are here…just reach out and ask for some assistance).

Let me know if any of this sounds good (or not) with an email to Michael@round1fitness.com.au

See you in the gym,

Michael.