Psychophysical fitness

Forget about “meat heads”, “dumb jocks”, and, dare I say, “The Situation”. There is mounting evidence that a good workout not only buffs up your body, but it gives your brain a boost as well. It is well known that exercise increases circulation, sending more oxygen, nutrients, and blood to the brain. While this may partly explain exercise’s beneficial effects, animal studies conducted at the Salk Institute and published in the scientific journal Nature, have revealed that exercise may actually encourage the growth of new brain cells!

So, if you need a quick study-break and if a shot of brainpower sounds good to you (no, “brainpower” isn’t some ironic mix of liquor and Red bull), give this workout designed to train your brain a try.

Cerebral Circuit:

Protocol- Perform this circuit 2-3 times 3-4 times a week

Touchdown- While standing on one foot with your arms stretched out to the sides, reach down and touch your foot with your opposite hand (left hand if you are balanced on your right foot and vice versa). Stand back up while maintaining your balance and repeat 10 times before switching to your other leg.

Scissor Swings- While balanced on one foot, swing your opposite leg at the hip while also swinging your same side arm (if you are standing on your right foot, you will swing your left leg and right arm). Repeat the exercise 10 times on each side. You can also perform this exercise by swinging your arms and legs out to the sides and then crossing them in front of your body.

Twister lunge- From a normal standing position, step back into a reverse lunge while twisting your upper body towards your forward leg. As you stand back up, balance on your forward leg and raise your back knee into the air. Finish by twisting your upper body towards your raised knee. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Multi-Jacks- Perform 15 regular jumping jacks. Then, perform 15 jumping jacks (legs stay the same) while opening and closing your arms like you are doing an exaggerated clap. Perform another 15 the same way but with your arms and legs opening and closing opposite each other. Then, perform 15 jumping jacks (arms like a regular jumping jack) while scissoring your legs forwards and backwards. Perform another 15 so that you will have done a set with each leg ending up forward while your arms are overhead.

Precarious Pillars and Planks- While holding a plank position (think the starting point of a push up) extend your right arm forward while lifting your left leg up and off the ground. Repeat with your left arm and right leg for a total of 10 repetitions. Then drop down to a pillar (balanced on elbows rather than hands) and repeat the same way for an additional 10 repetitions.

On the web: Mind Games

Give your brain a workout while killing time at work by checking out websites like,, and!

Nutrition: Hey Fatty Acid

Researchers at Deakin University in Islamabad have discovered that a reduction of the essential fatty acid DHA in brain cells leads to a deadly (for neurons) rise in zinc levels. There is no RDA for DHA, but it is generally recommended that healthy adults take in about 350mg per day. Good sources of DHA include fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel), fish oil supplements, walnuts, dark green vegetables, and Omega-3 enhanced foods such as eggs, juice, and cereals.


The Franklin Institute Resources for Science Learning, “The Human Brain-Exercise”.

Deakin University Research, “Fatty acid protects brain cells from dying”.

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. Awesome exercises and website to use w/my students when we study neuroscience and the Teen Brain:)