Leg Exercise and Your Brain Health

From:  Frontiers in Neuroscience  |   Reported By:  Science Daily

Excerpt: “Groundbreaking research shows that neurological health depends as much on signals sent by the body's large, leg muscles to the brain as it does on directives from the brain to the muscles.

The research shows that using the legs, particularly in weight-bearing exercise, sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, essential for the brain and nervous system. Cutting back on exercise makes it difficult for the body to produce new nerve cells -- some of the very building blocks that allow us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives.

The researchers gained more insight by analyzing individual cells. They found that restricting exercise lowers the amount of oxygen in the body, which creates an anaerobic environment and alters metabolism. Reducing exercise also seems to impact two genes, one of which is very important for the health of mitochondria -- the cellular powerhouse that releases energy the body can then use.

To read more, click here.


Paula Recommends ...Honey Mustard Salmon with Feta Yogurt Sauce

The salmon in this dish is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids that research has linked to cardiovascular health, cell signaling and vitamin absorption benefiting many body systems including the heart, brain and skin.

The sauce contains yogurt, rich with gut-healthy probiotic bacteria. Garlic, from the onion genus Allium has been linked in research to a decreased risk of several cancers. For vegetarians or those who do not eat seafood, the Feta Yogurt Sauce is a delicious accompaniment to spicy Indian dishes.  - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 


Honey Mustard Salmon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Honey
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 six-ounce salmon fillets
¾ cup Feta Yogurt Sauce (see recipe below)

Feta Yogurt Sauce
2 cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped mint or parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
¼ teaspoon of salt (may be omitted for those limiting salt in their diet)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Makes 2¼ cups.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the garlic, mustard, honey and pepper and brush on the salmon.
3. Cook the salmon for 15 to 20 minutes or until fish just flakes with a fork.
4. Serve each salmon fillet with three tablespoons of feta yogurt sauce.

Nutritional information: Makes four servings. Serving size: 4 oz salmon & 3 Tablespoons feta yogurt sauce: Per serving: 337 calories; 14 grams total fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 258 milligrams sodium; 9 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 42 grams protein.


Paula Recommends ...Herbed Chickpea Wraps

Red grapes, a good source of resveratrol, a phytonutrient with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, are the sweet, juicy surprise in this delicious wrap. Satiating plant-based protein comes from chickpeas and walnuts, which are also high in cancer-preventive fiber.

Chickpeas, like other dry beans and peas, contain folate, resistant starch and antioxidant photochemicals that qualify them as a "Food That Fights Cancer." Walnuts, known for being a good source of the plant form of omega-3 fat, alpha linolenic acid, make these wraps wonderfully crunchy and their roasted savory flavor is a pleasing contrast to the grapes. - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved*
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted walnuts
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1⁄2 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
8 (8-inch) whole wheat or GF tortillas

1. In large mixing bowl, add all ingredients, except tortillas, and gently combine. (For more cohesive mixture, first gently mash chickpeas with potato masher just to break skins before adding remaining ingredients.)
2. On bottom half of tortilla, spoon 1⁄2 cup mixture in broad line.
3. Fold left and right sides toward center until almost touching. Fold bottom edge toward center. Roll wrap firmly upwards and place toothpick 2 inches from each end.
4. Slice wrap diagonally and place cut side up on plate or platter. Repeat.
5. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate to serve later in the day.

*Large lettuce leaves can be substituted for tortillas and used to “wrap” the salad.

Nutrition information: Makes 8 servings (2 halves per serving. Per serving: 367 calories; 10 grams total fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 58 grams carbohydrates; 15 g protein, 10g dietary fiber, 425 mg sodium.

Jake Olson

Seeing It Best.
Blind. Bold. USC Trojan Long Snapper.

From sbnation.com |  By Morgan Moriarty

Jake Olson lost his sight to retinoblastoma (a cancer of the retina) when he was 12 years old but he never lost his view of what is possible in this life.  His experience on the USC Trojans football team as a long snapper is a case in point, not just of his own capacity for triumph but the capacity of the community around him to rally for something far bigger than any individual.

To read his incredible story, click here. To watch the ESPN video of his story, click here.


Gabi Shull

Surviving With Grace. 

Dancer. Dreamer. Doer. Role Model.

Gabi Shull was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when she was just 9 years old.  She lost her lower leg above the knee but not her will to continue to pursue her passion: Dancing is everything to Gaby.  Through rotationplasty, a groundbreaking surgical procedure, her foot and ankle were attached to her amputated leg allowing her to not only walk again but to pursue dance with as much determination and potential as before her diagnosis. Now 15 years old, she is inspiring others to go for it, no matter what, and to never give up.  To read more about this amazing teenager, click here or here.


Why Start Your Day with Exercise?

From www.FitTraining.net | By Linda T. Gottlieb, MA, CPT, CET

I won't lie. Exercising any time in your day is beneficial, and would make a personal trainer like me very happy! However, research continually emphasizes that exercising first thing in your day is the best way to get going.

Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Better performance - at work or at anything you do

We know that exercise helps to dramatically decrease stress levels. When you begin your day with exercise, you are more focused, more energized and so much more ready to tackle whatever the day has in store. Workers demonstrate increased productivity and are able to handle complex tasks more successfully when their day starts with a workout.

2. Metabolism boost

Exercise causes your metabolic rate to increase, so your body burns calories quicker and more efficiently, and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't love that! Also, people who exercise earlier in the day make better food choices for their entire day.

3. Better sleep

A study at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that participants who exercised in the morning had better quality sleep than those that worked out later in the day. Sleep is critical to healing and managing stress; moving earlier in the day allows your evenings to be a time for relaxation, leading to an improved night's rest.

4. Increasing your commitment to sticking with exercise

The top reason for not exercising is always "I simply don't have the time". Exercising first thing in the morning helps you get this critical self care activity accomplished before the days inevitable interruptions derail your good intentions. Also, the more time you have to think about it, the more time you have to make excuses. A study at the University of Texas confirms that morning exercises were more consistent than afternoon or evening exercisers.

5. A happier YOU

One of the major reasons exercise helps manage stress is that it releases endorphins, those happy chemicals that elevate your mood and decrease pain levels. Ever heard of "runners high?" Well, you don't have to run a marathon to benefit from boosted spirits and improved calm. Researchers at Glasgow University concluded that people who exercised in the morning experienced more dramatic increases of well-being than those who exercised later in the day. Why not get those happy chemicals switched "on" earlier?

No matter when you choose to exercise, the benefits are significant. Making exercise a routine part of your day is a great way to support your healing and good health.

Mindfulness and Muscle Tension

From EocInstitute.Org  |

Meditation takes you to a state deeper than sleep, giving your body the opportunity to heal and renew itself. Muscles relax and muscle aches are relieved. That adds up to more energy, better health and chronic pain relief.

Excerpt: "(When you meditate) bood can freely flow, and it will subsequently deliver nutrients to the brain and parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, and muscles. The muscles will be able to recuperate, reproduce cells, and heal damaged tissues, which will cause them to relax and stop their spasms.."

To read more, click here.


Good News: Muscle Knows No Age

From www.fittraining.net | By Linda T. Gottlieb, MA, CPT, CET

It's true, muscle knows no particular age, and it's great news for you and your lifetime fitness plan. The muscles in your body do not know whether you are 17, 47 or 77. What they know is that they are either in action or not. Either they are highly metabolic tissue, or inactive and decreasing their amazing power to keep you lean, toned and fitting well in your clothes, every day of your life. For cancer patients and survivors, some of your lifesaving treatments render you with more fat than muscle, or your inactivity due to recovery has decreased your physical activity and caused you to gain weight (mostly as fat). It is said that in one year, women who needed chemotherapy for their breast cancer can see a swapping of muscle for fat that's equivalent to 10 years of normal aging!

Add to that the fact that we are chronologically aging every day. Many of us are well aware of some of the other signs of "normal" aging, but losing your muscle doesn't (and I say shouldn't!) be one of them.

However, since most of us do less as we age, we set ourselves up for sarcopenia, the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength associated with aging (0.5-1% loss per year after the age of 25). Sarcopenia is a component of the frailty syndrome; the word is translated from the Greek meaning "poverty of the flesh."

Eeew! Who wants that?

Nobody! Having more muscle is important. You want to be able to get in and out of a chair without assistance, right? To pick up and put away your own groceries in the top cupboards and lift your suitcase when you travel too? Of course!

Just a few minutes of weight bearing exercise - your own weight as in modified wall pushups or sitting sit backs - or with resistance bands or light dumbbells will help you retain and perhaps even increase your lean muscle mass. It will help make your body a fat and calorie burning furnace, giving you abundant strength to lift what you want, carry a gallon of milk in each hand and help keep your hormones balanced.

And, abundance is so much nicer than poverty, any day!



The Importance of Strength Training

From everydayhealth.com | By Chris Iliades, MD | Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Excerpt: "If you knew that a certain type of exercise could benefit your heart, improve your balance, strengthen your bones, and help you lose weight as it made you look and feel better, wouldn't you want to get started? Well, studies show that strength training can do all of that and more. Strength training is not just about bodybuilders lifting weights in a gym. It can benefit people of all ages and may be particularly important for people with health issues such as arthritis or a heart condition.

"If you have any health issues, ask your doctor what type of strength training is best to meet your needs and abilities. You can also work with a fitness expert to design a strength-training program that will be safe and effective for you."

For more detail on the many benefits of strength training and how to get going with it, click here for the complete article.