Traveling Smarts: Working Out Your Mind and Body
|Associate Director, Amy Rauworth|
“Your Brain on Exercise”
The TV commercials from the 1990’s that utilized an egg frying in a pan as visual representation of your brain on drugs left a lasting impression. Not to mention all the jokes that would follow despite the seriousness of the subject matter. Wouldn’t it be great now if we could see a commercial that displays the effects that exercise has on your brain? Although not as visually stimulating, maybe a child could be shown taking a test and then playing (being physically active) and receiving a better grade. Or an older adult could be shown enjoying a stimulating debate in a courtroom or boardroom. Current research suggests that physical activity enhances brain function, cognition, and protects against the development of neurodegenerative disease across the adult lifespan (Kramer et al., 2007; Rovio et al., 2005; and Weuve et al., 2004). Additionally, the active and socially integrated lifestyle that physical activity offers older adults has been found to protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (Fratiglioni et al., 2004). Dr. Charles Hillman from the University of Illinois has recently addressed the positive effects of aerobic exercise on cognition and brain function in molecular and cellular systems, and behavioral levels (Hillman et al., 2008). In his article, he suggests that physical activity could battle the epidemic of obesity in children and simultaneously improve academic performance. It appears that physical activity can have beneficial effects across the lifespan. It is never too early or too late to start being physically active!
To find out more about this emerging body of evidence go to the reference section of this article.
Now that you are thinking about the benefits of exercise on your brain, don’t forget to stay active on your travels. Westin Hotels and Resorts are now offering guests new ways to stay physically active and work out your brain to stay mentally sharp http://findrenewal.com/index.php?sec=bbf.
Challenging your mind and body is a great way to stay at your best. The Westin Hotels and Resorts provide the typical workout facilities that you would expect a hotel to offer but then take it one step further. If you would like to exercise in the privacy of your own room simply request a Westin WORKOUT room. Some of the features include:
- Treadmill or spinning cycle
- Reebok® Pilates and Cycle DVDs
- Adjustable dumbbells and Reebok core training equipment
- Bicycling and Runner's World magazines and a fitness library
- Runner’s World maps
- Complimentary bottled water
The Westin also offers a program called RunWestin. This is a guided 3-mile scenic run (or walk by request) provided by the Running Concierge.
To challenge your brain, Gary Small, M.D. the Director of the UCLA Memory Clinic and the UCLA Center on Aging, has joined Westin to provide a memory assessment and brain teasers to keep you focused and at your best.
Other hotels offer some unique items and programs to keep you physically active while you travel. If you are a member of the Fairmont President’s Club, you can receive Adidas workout apparel delivered to your room for you to test and purchase if you like and a MP3 player to enjoy during your workout. http://www.fairmont.com/fpc/MembershipBenefits/MembershipBenefits.htm. The Hyatt Fitness Concierge http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/pure/stay-fit/ is able to help you obtain any gear left at home (from apparel to shoes to swimming goggles) and can deliver it to your guestroom as well. They can also furnish you with a GPS watch to map and monitor your own walking or running route.
Many hotel fitness facilities are not accessible to people with disabilities. Whether it is the small amount of space that some hotel fitness facilities allocate for their workout areas, swimming pools that have no lift or accessible entrance, or the lack of exercise equipment that can be utilized by the upper body, barriers for participation do exist for people with disabilities.
Tell us what you think. Good or bad, share your hotel fitness experiences with us by emailing email@example.com. By sharing your stories and experiences, we can provide creative ideas for others to become more physically active while traveling and educate the hotel industry on the issues that people with disabilities experience in their fitness facilities.
1. Hillman, C. H; Erickson, K. I; & Kramer, A. F. (January 2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9: 58-65.
2. Kramer, A. F; & Erickson, K. I. (August 2007). Capitalizing on cortical plasticity: influence of physical activity on cognition and brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11(8): 342-348
3. Rovio, S; Kareholt, I; Helkala, E-L; Viitanen, M; Winblad, B; Tuomilehto, J; Soininen, H; Nissinen, A; & Kivipelto, M. (November 2005). Leisure-time physical activity at midlife and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The Lancet Neurology, 4(11): 705-711.
4. Fratiglioni, L; Paillard-Borg, S; & Winblad, B. (June 2004). An active and socially integrated lifestyle in late life might protect against dementia. The Lancet Neurology, 3(4): 343-353.
5. Weuve, J; Kang, J. H; Manson, J. E; Breteler, M. M. B; Ware, J. H; & Grodstein, F. (2004). Physical Activity, Including Walking, and Cognitive Function in Older Women. Physical Activity, Including Walking, and Cognitive Function in Older Women. JAMA, 292(12): 1454-1461.