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Hemophilia Fitness for the Brain!


We have started to talk a lot on sweetaffliction.com about how important it is to incorporate fitness into your daily life when living with hemophilia. Well just as important as it is to keep your body strong as a hemophiliac, it is just as important to keep your mind strong and healthy. Below is an article by Kimberly Moore on this subject. Kimberly Moore is the owner of Custom Fitness, a fitness consulting and personal training business. She has spoken to numerous companies and organizations and is the author of The Healthy Lifestyles Program. You can contact her to speak to your company or organization by calling Custom Fitness at 214.348.7050. E-mail your fitness questions or comments to mooremotivation@aol.com.


Regular exercise is essential for a lean, healthy body. Did you know it is also crucial for maintaining a healthy brain? As early as age 30, you literally start to lose your mind due to a loss of brain tissue. The brain is the most complex part of your body, therefore requiring the most energy. It is made up of approximately 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, and other tissues. The brain controls all of your bodily functions ranging from life support systems such as breathing and keeping your heart beating, to your five senses, emotions, and the ability to learn new things. Therefore, it is important to keep it healthy and strong throughout your entire life. 

Routinely participating in both aerobic exercise and strength training can slow brain tissue deterioration and enhance mental function by 20 – 30%. How does this work? When your heart rate elevates during exercise, blood flow is increased, delivering more oxygen and glucose to the brain which is needed to function properly. Exercise also enables you to form new circuits between nerve cells, allowing you to think more clearly, improve your memory, and increase the speed of your reactions to stimuli. 

In addition to physical exercise, it is also important to give yourself a mental workout each day if you want to preserve brain power. Take time to do word games like crossword puzzles or acrostics. Memorize Bible verses or your favorite poems. Read books that challenge your vocabulary or encourage you to try a new hobby. Activities such as writing in a journal, learning a foreign language, or taking music lessons all require thinking and will challenge your brain, keeping it mentally fit. 

Just as the foods you eat affect your body’s shape, they also affect the shape of your mind.  In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tested people between the ages of 65 – 90 and discovered that those with the greatest ability to memorize words and perform mental arithmetic included the most fruits and vegetables in their diets. Coincidentally, the same group of people ate the least amount of saturated fat. 

Vitamins and minerals play a role in brain function as well. The B vitamins are essential for healthy brain and nerve cells and the transmission of nerve impulses. They are found in whole-grain foods (bread, rice, pasta, and fortified cereals), meat, poultry, fish,  legumes, eggs, milk, nuts, vegetables, and fruit. Iron is needed to carry oxygen to the brain cells and is used to make neurotransmitters to regulate your ability to concentrate which is crucial to learning. The best sources of iron include lean beef, whole grain cereals and breads, raisins, and legumes. 

Managing your stress also has an impact on your brain’s health. When you maintain a high stress level, your adrenal glands release the hormone, cortisol. This hormone has a very toxic effect on the memory center of the brain which can lead to memory loss. Cortisol blocks the uptake of glucose to the brain cells, a vital ingredient for the cells to function. Neurotransmitters, the chemicals that allow messages to travel from one cell to another, are also blocked by this hormone. Therefore, be sure to take time for relaxation each day to keep your stress and cortisol levels under control.

Remember that when you take time for regular exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation, you are keeping both your body and brain in shape so you can be physically and mentally fit no matter what your age. 



2 Responses to “Hemophilia Fitness for the Brain!”

  1. Good stuff.
    Pat and I drove by the cemetary on our way to workout at JBU this morning. I stopped and asked the guy digging the grave with the backhoe if he knew for whom he was opening the grave. He did and it was for me so we went on to the Health Complex for some ‘brain stimulation’. It has been a good day, indeed!

  2. I agree 100%. I am a 25 year old Severe Hemophiliac and live in Washington state. From my personal experience the best thing a hemophiliac can do is get fit and stay fit. Body and mind. What you say is what you get. Feed your brain too. Out with the bad in with the good. lol. On top of having this bleeding disorder i also have a stutter. So when i am bleeding to death i cant tell anyone. lol I am a pretty buff hemo. I dont get bleeds too often anymore because i a have kept my body in great shape. Body building is one of my favorite things to do.

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