Cognitive & Emotional Health
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity
World Helath Organisation
Maintaining sharp minds and high level cognitive functioning is concern as we age. There is a critical link between physiological “fitness” and brain “fitness”. Suboptimal conditions that promote cognitive decline and even dementia have a silent onset, decades before we become alert to them and many of the features overlap with those seen in “prediabetes” or type 2 diabetes.
Insulin Resistance and Fitness
Development of resistance to our blood sugar-regulating hormone, insulin is a common theme in these conditions and is termed insulin resistance . Improving insulin sensitivity, through optimising cardiometabolic health proactively, is the likely to be the best way to keep our brains functioning healthily for as long as possible. Indeed, greater cardiorespiratory fitness has been linked to increased brain volume and improved brain functioning .
Stress and Emotional Health
In the UK, 15.4 million days of work were lost in 2017/18 due to work stress. It has the potential to have a profound effect on not only our mental health but our physical health too. It has both short- and long-term effects on our health. Both positive (eg exercise, sauna, job promotion, public speaking) and negative (eg bereavement, professional or personal relationship breakdowns) stressors have the potential to impact our health.
Acute stressors are time-limited. Positive acute stressors can have the advantageous effect of a phenomenon called hormesis. This is when the cells and our bodies are able to adapt and become more resilient to a mild or moderate stress, such as exercise.
Cumulative exposure to regular, repeated negative stressors results in greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, impaired immunity and poor brain (cognitive) function . Significant life events can even alter the structure of our brains , including areas associated with memory, possibly the high cortisol levels . Stress can, therefore, be a contributing factor for speeding up the ageing process and promoting an earlier onset of age-related disease .
Mitigating Stressful Environments
Throughout our programmes we take the following approach:
Developing a multi-faceted approach to increasing emotional and cognitive reserve confers resilience to the mental and physical consequences of these stressors. This can be through building a support team around you  which can help reduce cortisol levels .
Increasing our capacity to cope with everyday stress through practices such as mindfulness .
Regular physical activity which can increase self-efficacy . Independent of its effects on stress management, regular physical activity also mitigates the stress-related chronic health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive impairment and obesity.
Nutritional manipulation to support the gut-brain connection via the gut microbiome .
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