In 1999 a teacher named Phil Lawler in Naperville, Illinois read an article that stated the health of US children was declining due to inactivity. Looking inside the school gym he saw a lot of kids that were in fact inactive. He decided to shift the focus of the ph
ysical Education class to cardiovascular fitness. Once a week students had to run a mile. Assessments were based on effort and reaching personal bests rather than skill. Non-athletes were allowed to train on bikes. He also brought in heart rate monitors to ensure the students were pushing themselves. “Your goal is to run your fastest mile…your average heart rate should be above 185.”
While this improved their performance within the school (lessons were re-shuffled to ensure those that required the most concentration were at the beginning of the day), since 1999 it has also made a huge impact on their results internationally. Academically this school performs way above any others in the area. In 1999 the 8th graders scored 1st in the world in science and 6th in the world in Maths. US schools as a whole ranked 18th in science and 19th in maths, with some areas scoring last in the world.
How does exercise improve learning and brain function?
Exercise encourages our brain to work at its optimum level, it causes nerve cells to multiply, connections between nerves are strengthened and they are also protected from damage. We get more oxygen and blood flow to the brain and a release of endorphins which are happy hormones that reduce stress and improve our mood.
In children, exercise has been shown to reduce restlessness and hyperactivity, decrease symptoms of ADHD, improve moods and immunity, and it also improves sleep which further enhances all the other benefits listed. It has also been shown to increase energy levels. Imagine if your child began the day with more energy, a better mood and was more settled. Imagine how much better their ability to learning would be.
Movement particularly from birth to 3.5 years is essential for laying down appropriate pathways for learning and development. It is how the brain learns to relate to the world around it. Movement develops optimal posture, eye movement and control through balance and co-ordination, better reading and better fine motor control which is crucial for handwriting.
How to get kids moving
- Walking or riding a bike to school. Even if you live too far away to walk/ride the whole way, park a little distance from school and walk/ride the remainder
- If there is time to watch TV in the morning, there is time to send the kids outside in the backyard. Bike riding, jumping on the trampoline, running around, kicking the footy, whatever it may be
- Get to school early and play on the playground before going into class
- Give them goals
- “See how long it will take you to run around the backyard” and time them while you’re getting yourself ready. Then do it a second time and see if they can beat their time
- “Go outside and see if you can get 10 goals” or “See how many goals you can get in a row” (Basketball, soccer, football)
- Organise friends to walk/ride with before or to school
- Ask them what activities they like and incorporate these into the daily or weekly routine
- Get the family up 20 minutes earlier to ensure there is a little more time before school
While exercise in the morning is the best time for learning, any time is better than not at all. Even after school limiting screen time is so important for many reasons besides getting the body moving more.
Imagine you’re sitting, scrolling through Facebook or your emails and someone lets a tiger into the room. What would you feel and what would you do? Naturally I would expect a few things such as:
- A beating heart
- A rush of adrenalin through your arms and legs (tingling, pulsing, shaking)
- Increased breathing
- Lack of focus
This is your “fight or flight” response. You’re either going to stay and wrestle the tiger to the ground. Or you’re going to run for your life. Either way you need your body to:
- Open your blood vessels to provide more blood flow to your arms and legs so you have the strength to fight or run
- Increase your heart rate so you can pump that blood around
- Increase your blood pressure as the blood pumps around
- Increase your breathing rate so you have enough oxygen for those muscles
- Tighten and tense neck and shoulder muscles
At the same time your body stops or changes the balance of:
- Immune system function – fighting off that virus someone has just coughed into the air is not as much of a threat to you as the tiger
- Hormones – its not important to be making babies when there’s a tiger around
- Digestion – Digesting food is not important when you’re about to be something else’s food
- Sleep – it’s not safe to fall asleep otherwise the tiger will get you or your family
Everything is aimed at survival
This is driven, controlled and stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system.
These changes also happen in our everyday lives. It’s what helps to keep our body in balance. These changes happen when the boss puts pressure on our work output, when the kids test their boundaries, when we argue, whenever we feel pressure in life and believe it or not, the very action of sitting at a desk is actually a stress on our body.
To be fair to our sympathetic nervous system also helps out in positive situations. It helps us to keep our blood sugars in balance, our blood pressure even so we don’t get dizzy when we stand up, it dulls down loud noises and protects our eyes from bright lights. This also helps us to survive as these are vital functions for our body to maintain homeostasis (balance).
Perception of pressure is stress
Stress stimulates the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in our body.
When these stressors continue our body spends more and more time in “fight or flight” until that is our new normal. We spend our lives on edge. Waiting for something to happen. This is sympathetic dominance and it begins to manifest in other ways:
- Lower immunity – frequent colds and flus
- Digestive system upsets – diarrhoea, constipation, gas, bloating, food intolerances
- Hormone issues – irregular cycles, polycystic ovaries, infertility, heavy and painful periods, long or short cycles
Sympathetic dominance has far reaching effects on the body.
Other stressors grouped into the Triad of Health include:
- Poor posture
- Sitting a desk all day
- Screen time including ipads, mobile phones, laptop computers
- Unfulfilling relationships
- Turning up to a job each day that we hate
- Self-esteem issues
- Unresolved childhood traumas
- Poor diet high in processed sugars and processed foods
- Nutritional deficiencies such as zinc, magnesium and B vitamins
- Toxins such as those in fast food, cosmetics and other personal care products, the environment or medications
So what can you do about this?
As I have explained in the Health Triad blog post, all health conditions are best approached from all sides of the triangle: physical/structural, mental/emotional and biochemical/nutritional.
Reducing physical and structural stressors using exercises to reverse poor posture, participating in light exercise rather than vigorous exercise everyday, stretches to counteract the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day and of course, chiropractic adjustments will all help to keep the body physically well.
Dealing with unresolved stress with methods such as meditation, NeuroEmotional Technique, taking time out for yourself each day, getting some sunshine, participating in hobbies you enjoy or spending time with friends are all good to reduce our mental/emotional stress.
Reducing the toxic load on our bodies through natural cleaning products, organic personal care products (don’t put anything on your skin you wouldn’t put in your mouth) and eating organic foods where possible will help with biochemical stress. Drinking plenty of water, which means 30mL per kilogram of body weight (1.8L for a 60kg person) each day helps to flush out toxins and keeps us feeling fresh. Plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and well-sourced meats, rather than junky, processed packaged food which is full of chemicals is important to reduce biochemical and nutritional stress on our bodies.
I have just completed my Practitioner Certification in the SD Protocol. Please let me know if you have any more questions about sympathetic dominance.
Below is a video from Dr Wayne Todd, developer of the SD Protocol:
A Date For Your Diary…not to missed!
Joanna Rushton will be interviewing speakers from January 7-17. You can view and or listen for FREE to the interview for 24 hours from 10 AM to 9.59 AM Australian Eastern Time.
You can also check out all the incredible experts as well as interviews with individuals sharing their inspirational and uplifting personal experiences on overcoming depression and anxiety.
It’s not too late to tune in and l know the information that will be shared will be invaluable.
Register for FREE here and discover:
- Specific foods, recipes & diet plans to reduce anxiety
- Specific supplements to support your mood & improve brain function
- Simple daily rituals to reduce your risk of depression & anxiety
- How to protect yourself & your family from EMF stress at home & at work
- Tools to improve your digestion, metabolism & hormonal balance
- Movements and exercises to reduce anxiety & lift your mood
- Techniques to enhance the quality of your sleep for improved rest & recovery
- Methods to practice that will improve your relationship with yourself & others
One of the interviews in the Overcoming Depression and Anxiety Summit that I highly recommend you tuning into is Carren Smith A Soul Survivor. You will discover:
- What Carren did to cope with the suicide of her partner
- How Carren survived the Bali bombings
- How Carren found the courage and will to live again
I also recommend Sally Fallon and her interview The truth about Fat, Cholesterol and Mental Health:
- The truth about cholesterol and mental health
- Fat soluble vitamins that are essential to optimum brain function
- Fats that impact mental wellness
Dr Amy Myers will also be speaking on the Auto-immune Solution for Mental Health:
- The 9 symptoms of a leaky gut
- The 10 signs that may indicate you have a parasite infection
- How to prevent and reverse autoimmune disorders
There are so many more valuable and inspiring interviews. Click here to see the full interview list.
Don’t forget to leave a comment in the comment box below; I’d love to hear what you thought!
As we all know, New Years is a popular time for goal setting and intentions. But there’s also the same old story of having good intentions and that is all.
Now (or even earlier) is a great time to start thinking about your goals for next year, because if you’re one of these people that needs to “start Monday” or “wait until the 1st of the month” then you definitely need to be ready when January 1st hits.
Goals should be more than just, “I will eat healthier in 2016” or “I will exercise at least 5 times a week” because the most important thing in goal setting is not the goal itself, but the WHY. You don’t start exercising 5 times a week because you love exercise. You exercise to feel better, lose weight, tone your body, increase your energy, or whatever it is in your personal circumstance. So when you’re out running you’re not thinking about the running but the end goal of how you will feel at the end.
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Why Setting Goals is Important
You Need Direction
Seneca, a Roman statesman had it right when he pulled out this little piece of sailing wisdom. If you don’t know where you want to be in your life, then nothing that comes your way will be useful to you. Setting goals allows you to get 100% clear on what you want and where you want to be, so when opportunity arises you can grab it with both hands.
You Get Clear
Sometimes when I begin to write down what I want, as the list progresses it develops and changes. What I thought I wanted becomes very different when I work through the whys and the hows. Taking the time to make a list and detailing how and when and why will draw out the real priorities and make you realise what’s actually important.
You Find Motivation
This does relate to point number 1 in that motivation comes from direction. Being able to find what you want and break it down into simple action steps makes many tasks far less daunting and when you start and feel as though you’ve made progress, the motivation grows.
Tips for Creating Great Goals
Using the SMART acronym is a great way to know if you’re doing your goals right:
S – Specific. Are they specific? “I will exercise 3 times a week for at least 3 minutes, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning,” compared to: “I will exercise more.” Using who, where, what, when and how helps here.
M – Measureable. Can you measure the outcome? “I will increase my savings by $100 each month,” compared to “Save more money.” How can you measure the outcome. You can also measure in smaller action steps.
A – Achievable. While I encourage you to reach for the stars, are your goals really achievable? “I will increase my business income by 10% each month of 2016,” compared to “I want $1,000,000 in my bank account tomorrow.” Unless of course you’re nearly a millionaire. In that case, go ahead! Manifest millions. Can also stand for Attainable.
R – Realistic. Can you really keep up with it? “I will add one serve of vegetables into my diet each day,” compared with “I will stop eating McDonalds and KFC for breakfast, lunch and tea and only drink green smoothies and broth.”
T – Timely. Can you achieve this in the time you have set? “I will lose 2kg a week for the next 6 months,” compared with “I will lose 10kg in two weeks.” Also can mean Time-bound. “I will start writing the book I’ve also wanted to write” doesn’t give you an end point. “I will write at least 5 pages of the book each week and be finished the first draft by March” gives you steps and an end-point.
Break it Down
When setting my goals or new moon intentions I always have rough categories they each fit into. Sometimes one category will have more than others, but this changes and adapts over time. For example: at the moment I am exercising 6 times a week. It has become a habit and it’s working well for me at the moment. So when I set my next list of intentions or goals, exercise won’t be a big focus for me.
My categories generally include:
• Career and work
• Health and wellness
• Finance and money
• Spiritual and self
Acknowledging the Year (or Month or Day) Gone by
Achievements not matter how small are important to recognise. Being grateful for what you have and what has happened is a really important step in the goal-setting process. While you may be setting goals for the first time and therefore may feel like you have been wasting your time, there is probably more than you have achieved than you realise. You will also have much to be grateful for when you sit down and consider.
Take Action Now
Write down at least one thing, if not more, that you can do TODAY to get your goals going. As I explained above, breaking the goals down into small action steps makes them infinitely easier. But ensure there is one simple thing you can do to step towards your end goal.
While writing your goals visualise them, feel them and imagine them. How is it going to feel when you achieve them? What will happen? How will you behave? (Bonus tip: Start acting like your dreams have already come true.) Spend some time (day)dreaming up the whole thing. Visualise how you will feel in your new fit body. Imagine how you will dress when you land that dream job. Dream about the holiday you will take when you are earning all that cash. Concentrating on the feelings of when it happens will help to keep you motivated and trick your brain into thinking you have achieved everything now. This is a very important step!
Now, as a treat for sticking with me through these tips, here’s a little bonus present for you all. These are the workbooks that I have used for the past few years to do my goal-setting, intentioning and visualising. These magic books by Leonie Dawson ask all the right questions in the right way, a simple to use, fun format.
The easiest way is to download the ebooks and print them yourself. But Leonie has a huge list of products to help you make your wildest dreams come true. So get downloading and get ahead for your new years resolutions.
What you need:
- 1 cup Medjool dates (180g)
- 2/3 cup dried figs (100g)
- 2/3 cup activated almonds or walnuts (100g)
- 2/3 cup dried apricots (100g)
What to do:
- Place all ingredients in a high speed blender or thermomix.
- Process until combined well.
- Add a teaspoon of water if required.
- Roll into balls and then roll in coconut.
- Place in fridge to set.
- Store in an airtight container.
This recipe is reasonably high in sugar due to the dried fruits and should be consumed in moderation.
Recipe courtesy of Riverland Activated Nuts (https://www.facebook.com/RiverlandActivatedNuts)
Are you looking to reduce your meat consumption but would still like to keep your protein up? Or perhaps you just want to increase your protein to help reduce carbohydrates?
Whatever the reason, here is the information which is…
All you Need to Know about
Beans are loaded with a good source of protein. Although they don’t have as many amino acids as animal based foods, they do have more than other plant-based options. Beans have lots of iron, B group vitamins and fibre.
Protein is important as it is the building block of cells and tissues and important for many vital bodily functions. We should consume a range of protein sources to ensure we receive all essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the ones we can’t manufacture ourselves.
The best way to cook beans with minimal impact on your digestive system (I mean less farts) is to soak them overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans then place them in a pot with about twice the water.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until soft.
You can add all sorts of herbs and spices depending on personal taste. I recommend adding a couple of bay leaves to the boiling pot.
A small amount of salt is also good.
Combine with any recipe that calls for beans.
Add to salads, soups, stews, as a side dish, with your morning eggs, the options are endless!
Cooking times for 1 cup of beans:
- Cannellini 90-120 minutes
- Chick peas 120-180
- Kidney 60-90
- Lentils 30-45
- Navy 60-90
- Split peas 45-60
Other tips for cooking beans:
Chew thoroughly, this also helps with digestion
Fennel and cumin can help reduce wind
Experiment with different beans and different flavours
Apple cider vinegar can also help to soften the beans and help with digestion. Add a couple of teaspoons during the cooking process.