"Your brain can grow and develop, but it can also atrophy."

Shawn Stevenson

CONNECT WITH MY GUESTS

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Connect with Shawn: Model Health Show Podcast | Website | | Twitter | Instagram

How do you build mental muscle?

Many of you are likely doing regular physical exercise, but have you worked on your mental fitness lately? You want your physical muscles to be strong, flexible, energized, and pliable, but do you want the same for the most important “muscle” in your body—the mind?

You can achieve optimal mental fitness through practice. The same “use it or lose it” principle that applies to your body also applies to your mind. To grow, build resilience, and focus, your brain requires novelty and nutrition.  

If you’re looking for practical tips on building mental fitness, today’s show is for you. Here are 3 Kwik Tips for boosting your brainpower through mental exercise. You can also check out the full Kwik Brain episodes with our experts via the links!

Aaron Alexander (@alignpodcast) is a movement coach, manual therapist, author, and host of the Align Podcast.

Shawn Stevenson (@ShawnModel) Shawn Stevenson is a bestselling author and creator of The Model Health Show.

 

Show Notes

GUEST 1: AARON ALEXANDER

FIX YOUR POSTURE

  • Posture affects you at a hormonal level and a cellular level. Whether you are standing tall or hunching over, your cells can feel you!
  • Simple body hack: hinge from your hips while you are using your phone and aim to keep your spine long. This will help you to avoid the typical collapsed chest, forward head position, and slumped posture that usually arises from phone use.
  • Hunching sends a message to your body and the people around you. People will form perceptions of you based on your body posture, the messages sent by your posture will perpetuate itself.
  • Technology is forming us into a depressed mold.

DEEP BREATHING

  • Unconsciousness can be a time when the little bad habits slip back in.
  • Come back to your breath as an anchor point: 6 seconds in, 4 seconds out.
  • For normal breathing, it is best to breathe through the nose. Your nose is built to breathe and your mouth is built to eat.
  • Breathing through your nose means the air goes through the right passages to allow your body to release nitric oxide, which the body is built to do naturally.
  • Mouth breathing can result in less testosterone, and prompt breathing from the chest which can set off your panic response.
  • Nose breathing can cause a restriction in your breath, meaning your muscles have to come online and your diaphragm has to engage.

GUEST 2: SHAWN STEVENSON

WHY STRENGTH TRAIN?

  • Your brain can grow and develop, but it can also atrophy.
  • One research study put people through a strength training program and found that the act of lifting weights could cause improvements in brain plasticity and growth in brain volume and connections.

STRENGTH TRAINING

  • Lift heavy things 2x a week as a bare minimum, ideally 2-4 times a week.
  • You can start with basic bodyweight exercises like push-ups and bodyweight squats.
  • You can then move on to lifting some heavier weights, and doing exercises like deadlifts with barbells.
  • While strength training, you are working your body, brain, and nervous system.

PROPRIOCEPTION

  • Proprioception is the body’s ability to monitor and be aware of itself in space. We tend to lose this as we age, resulting in increased risk of falls and fractures.
  • To improve proprioception you can try exercises like box jumps, jump squats, and slacklining. 
  • You can try playing around like you did as a kid, by stepping between cracks in the pavement, hopping up on ledges. Any opportunity to improve your balance will help your brain.

WALKING

  • Daily walking can improve your working memory.
  • As humans, we can do exercises like heavy deadlifts with barbells, but are we designed to do them? Out of all the exercises we do, we are definitely designed to walk.
  • Stanford study: walking increases creative inspiration by 60% versus sitting shortly before and after doing a walk, from just 5-16 minutes of walking. 
  • The study found walking increased and improved a particular style of creativity called divergent thinking: our ability to view and solve a problem from a wide variety of angles and break out of tunnel vision.

PART 3: JUGGLING WITH JIM

LEARN HOW TO JUGGLE

  • An Oxford study suggested jugglers have bigger brains, it creates more white matter in the brain.
  • Start with one ball. You can use a ball that won’t roll—try a rolled-up sock. Start over a bed or a couch so the ball won’t roll away from you.
  • If you drop it, it’s okay. Remember there is no failure, only feedback.
  • Create an arc going to the top of your head and practice throwing the ball from one hand to the other.
  • Use one ball for a while, then add in a second ball when you’re comfortable.

USING THREE BALLS

  • Imagine two peaks (or two triangles) on opposite sides. Toss one ball to the highest peak, and when it reaches that peak toss the other ball into the air.
  • Avoid tossing the balls at the same time or they will collide.
  • When you feel comfortable with this step, add in another ball—start with two in your dominant hand.
  • Soften your gaze to take in all the balls at once. This is a helpful exercise to become a faster reader by building your peripheral vision and to relax your eyes after looking at a screen.
  • Remember that you are practicing juggling to improve your brainpower and your life.

SHARE

  • Tell us which expert you enjoyed hearing most on today’s show! Share one of your aha moments with us.
  • Take a screenshot and tag me (@jimkwik) and your favorite expert and tell us one action you will use in your own life moving forward.

 

Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy

Episode 25: Sleep Smarter, Faster, and Deeper with Shawn Stevenson

Episode 128: Activating Your Brain for a Rich Life with Ramit Sethi

Episode 141: Little-Known Mental Fitness Exercise

Episode 145: Turn Your Brain On with Dave Asprey