By Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC
Becoming a mom has been such a life-changing experience for myself. As a “modern-day” mom I try to be a variety of things for my son: role model, health advocate, provide a loving & nurturing environment and help my son grow up and develop into the person he was meant to be. Oh and did I say fun? I want to do all of the above and also be remembered as the “fun mom”….am I asking for too much?
With all those objectives in mind I make an effort to prepare healthy meals, incorporate fun activities, play dates, get him to bed in a timely manner, teach him to move his body, challenge his mind and exercise his brain. Yes you read that right, exercise his brain!
There is so much growth and development that happens in a child’s first year of life. By the age of 1, the brain grows 2.5-3x it’s size from birth. 1,000 to 100,000 brain synapses are formed in the first year of life alone. By the age of 2, the brain reaches 80-90% of it’s adult volume. And by the age of 6, they have formed almost all of the major sensory and motor pathways they will need for their entire adult life. That is an immense amount of growth and development in a short amount of time! There are a lot of things, particularly in modern-day, that can interfere or hinder a child’s normal growth and development: birth trauma, skipping milestones (ex: going from sitting straight to walking, missing the crawling stage), overuse of “screen-time” (iPad, computer, cell phone, video games, TV, etc), lack of movement and stress.
Did you know movement and brain function are inter-related? A large study conducted in California assessed 1 million students over a 10 year period and found that just 20 minutes of walking improved a child’s ability to concentrate and improved their overall performance on an academic test. Movement and cognition happen in the same parts of the brain and use the same pathways. Our ability to think, control our emotions, pay attention, understand math, learn to spell and use language are all related to our body’s ability to move well.
What if I told you that you can help stimulate your child’s brain by doing specific exercises? When we practice movement patterns we build nerve pathways and establish connections in the brain. A study was conducted in 2003 that looked at the effect of 6 months of brain-coordination exercises on kids with learning difficulties. The children who were in the exercise group had significant improvements in reading, writing & comprehension, dexterity and speech fluency. When they followed up with those kids 4 years later the children had still maintained those same improvements….it’s long lasting!
Tonight try these 3 brain stimulating exercises with your little ones. (Some of the exercises may be challenging at first but the exciting thing is, the brain will catch on.) Get down on the floor with your kids and and make it a fun activity. My son has a blast doing them and some of the exercises are even challenging for me too! We aim to do the exercises every other day.
Log Rolls: great for stimulating the vestibular area of the brain.
Have your child lay on their stomach with their arms out overhead. Keep the body straight and try and encourage them to use their abdominal muscles to slowly roll onto their back. Continue rolling back and forth and work up to 12 rolls to each side.
Inch worms: Great for increasing central muscle tone and overall increasing stimulation to the whole brain. This exercise incorporates cross-body movement which connects the two halves of the brain.
Have you child lay on their back on the floor with their arms at their side, knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Instruct them to roll one shoulder up and backwards well pushing a little with their feet. This will drag and push the body along the floor. Then roll up the opposite shoulder and do the same. Continue the exercise for 2 minutes.
CrossCrawling: This is great for integrating the left and right sides of the brain. All actives of the brain require input from both sides of the brain and this movement is essential for optimal brain function for all forms of learning: Reading, thinking, math behaviour, emotional control and planning. Cross-crawling is also essential for training the eyes to cross the midline and for the eyes to focus and track.
Get on your hands and knees. Move the opposite arm and leg forward at the same time. Try to focus on your hands when you do this exercise. Continue for 60 seconds.
For more information and video demonstrations of the above exercises, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com
We’ve all heard it since childhood- “straighten up!”, “stop slouching!” When we’re kids, we think our parents and teachers are just picking on us, but as adults we start to see the effects of many years of slouching and the chronic issues that follow. Although most people are concerned with the physical appearance of slouching, the consequences are much more profound than a rounded upper back.
If you sit at a computer all day, chances are that you already know that poor posture can cause pain in your joints and muscles. Poor posture can also be responsible for numbness and tingling or weakness in the extremities and can certainly lead to body aches and headaches. What most people don’t consider is what is going on in the inside. Slouching and slumping can actually cause compression of organs, making it more difficult to breathe, digest our food, eliminate toxins from our bodies and can cause a number of symptoms including fatigue and digestive disorders.
Taking care of your spine today, means better health tomorrow. Take the time and make the effort to care for your spine so that you will be strong, healthy and pain-free later on in life! Follow these six steps to straighten up:
1. Get up:
Take breaks from your desk every 30 minutes. Even if you just stand up and walk around for a minute or do some light stretching, this gives your body a chance to relieve the tired muscles that work so hard while you’re sedentary.
2. Invest in a good chair:
Because we all come in different shapes and sizes, an adjustable chair is a great investment to be sure that it will fit your body perfectly. Get something with good lumbar support to be sure that your low back is protected.
3. Take a look at yourself:
When sitting in your chair, your hips, knees and elbows should be at least at 90 angles and your feet should be flat on the floor.
4. Practice awareness:
Making and breaking habits is a tough thing to do. Place a post-it on your computer screen to remind you to straighten up (you don’t even have to write anything on it, you’ll know why it’s there). You should be trying to keep your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.
5. Get moving:
Joining a yoga or pilates class can be a great way to support your spine through both strengthening and stretching.
6. Get your spine checked:
After major traumas (car accidents, serious falls and sports injuries) and minor traumas (repetitive stress, prolonged improper sleeping, sitting or standing positions), spinal bones can become misaligned and stuck, which can also affect posture. A chiropractic examination will allow your chiropractor to see if there is something biomechanical that may be interfering with your ability to achieve proper posture.
When you are trying to lose weight you may be thinking of taking a fast a furious approach eating as little as possible while working out as much as possible. However this is not only unwise, but also ineffective in the long run.
Healthy Eating Habits
When you skip a meal or cut calories drastically you will slow down your metabolism. This is because your body is concerned you are not getting enough calories to survive and is trying to conserve energy. You will lose weight using this method for the first few days or even a week, but as your body goes into panic mode it will fight starvation by storing fat. Therefore the only weight you will continue to lose will be water and muscle, which is not only bad for you, but will also make you reach a plateau far more quickly than you should. This makes all of your efforts for naught as your system will decide it is not safe to lose weight. Therefore it is important to eat healthy foods throughout the day. Taking an approach that reduces carbs and adds more veggies and fruits is the best approach as well as eating 5 small meals instead of 3 larger meals. Obviously cutting out sugars is important as well.
When your body’s metabolism slows due to dieting this is where exercise helps. Exercising in hand with dieting provide the energy required to help you burn more calories and do so naturally and safely. Regular exercise is a must to lose weight and it will give you more energy and keep your metabolism working at peak efficiency to continue to burn calories at rest. Do not forget the importance of weight lifting as the more muscle you can build the higher your metabolism remains.
Before and After Work Out Foods
Prior to a work out this is the best place to have a combination of simple and complex carbs. Have a slice of whole grain bread a smear of peanut butter and a banana sliced on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon for the perfect combo. You can also eat something like Greek yogurt with a few nuts or a meal with protein and carbs or oatmeal with blueberries. Following a work out you can eat a yummy omelette with eggs and fresh veggies and a slice of avocado for morning workouts or salmon and some sweet potato for dinner for late afternoon workouts. Lunch time work outs work well with a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread.
The key to weight loss is balance. You must exercise and eat a modified amount of calories without cutting meals to lower your calorie count. Moderation, variety and dedication are the key to a successful weight loss plan.