Article in WHOLife - Wholeness and Wellness Journal of Saskatoon May/June 2018

Ageless Grace®

Changing your aging brain can be as simple as child's play!


A woman hears noise coming out of the exercise room and it does not sound like a senior’s class – it sounds like a ROCK PARTY!  "What is going on? What is instigating all the hoots, hollers and laughter?" she wonders.

The 45 minute class finishes and she can see the participants start to file out of the room with this glow about them. They are all chatting and still laughing. There is certainly a mixture of people, the the youngest may be 55 and the oldest may have crossed the century mark. There are students with canes, walkers, wheel chairs and people just walking out – everyone seems energized and has a smile on their face. She decides to find out more. She comes to the desk and asks me, "Can exercise be fun?" I answer "Yes!" and I explain the benefits of our newest program. She is excited and I see her at the next class.

The program is called Ageless Grace Brain Health Fitness® and a Certified Educator teaches students the 21 Simple Tools for Lifelong Comfort and Ease™.  Ageless Grace is newer to Canada (2012) and was recently introduced in Saskatoon at ProActive Fitness located at #5-3602 Taylor Street East.  ProActive Fitness owner, Shelley Turk, is a Functional Aging Specialist and has recently with her staff become Certified Ageless Grace Educators. Shelley is looking forward to sharing Ageless Grace with the Saskatoon community .

The program is based on neuroplasticity.  Neuroplasticity means you can actually change the form and function of your brain and central nervous system. Dr. Sarah McKay and other scientists believe the best exercise for changing the brain is physical exercise; although, it’s not just about physical activity, but consciously choosing to do something new, or in a different way, in order to engage your brain. Knowing how to stimulate neuroplasticity can directly affect the quality of the rest of your life, regardless of your age! 

Barbara Kunz, a Certified Ageless Grace Trainer, says, “We sit to do Ageless Grace, not because we are “old”, but to cause the brain to figure out how to do these exercises from a chair rather than standing. Sitting also engages the core muscles, vital organs, systems of the body, and energy centers. Add your favorite music, and it stimulates your brain even more".

According to Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself, we must learn new things in order to feel fully alive.  When we learn, we alter genes in our neurons, which can change our brain.

Neuroscientists now know we can still develop and change our brains, no matter how old we are.  We can learn through play to restore, maintain and develop NEW neural pathways by doing something physical we don't know how to do -- or by doing something we already know how to do, differently!

Larry Chambers, Scientific Advisor to the Alzheimer Society of Canada states, “Cognitive aging and forgetfulness can be decreased as we age by exercise, sleeping and eating properly and getting your daily dose of sunshine. Also being active social, mentally and physically helps with the slow retreat of cognitive aging.”

As the Tools of Ageless Grace strengthen these connections they enhance five functions of the brain — Strategic Planning, Memory and Recall, Analytical Thinking, Creativity and Imagination, and Kinesthetic Learning. For short we call it SMACK – the sound of a neuron firing!

Students are coached to practice these exercise Tools for just 10 minutes a day in the comfort of their own home. With easy to remember names like “Spaghetti Spine” or “Juicy Joints,” the Tools are based on everyday movements that are natural and organic. The tools create new neural pathways by practicing physical and mental skills we do not already know how to execute.  It is fun and beneficial!

Here is a testimonial from an Ageless Grace Student who completed her 21 Day Challenge – doing Ageless Grace for just 10 minutes a day in the comfort of her own home. 

“You asked us to let you know when we complete the 21 day challenge. Well I did and I absolutely love it! I feel like it wakes up my body. I have kept it up daily since the class & will continue to do so. It is now the first thing I do when I get up in the morning.  I could never get my left hand into a fist because of arthritis and now I can. Also I have less pain in my foot then when I started.  I am now a strong advocate of Ageless Grace.  So glad I went to your class...thanks a bunch!” Claudette

I hope you experience an Ageless Grace class soon!

Changing your aging brain can be as simple as child's play!

WIndsor Ontario - Comments from new Certified Educator

The VON SMART program instructors enjoyed the Ageless Grace training and have incorporated some of the tools into their classes.  The participants enjoy the more interactive approach and many comment that it doesn’t really feel like a structured exercise class.  Lots of laughter too. 

I incorporated the Dive In tool in one of my classes and a woman (92 yrs old) came up to me afterwards with tears in her eyes…said it reminded her of when she would go swimming with her daughter up in Muskoka during summer vacations.  They were happy tears.

 Thank you again for facilitating the training and preparing us to share Ageless Grace with our program participants.

Saskatoon Participant Workshop Feedback

Jan writes:

Barb Kunz is a terrific instructor. She is enthusiastic (contagious) which goes a long way. Knowledge of body workings is encouraging. I had so much fun and felt like I had actually moved my body!

Elaine writes:

Thank you!  Also great to meet you!  I must admit that as a former Dale Carnegie instructor I was watching you with a bit of a different eye.  You are very impressive in your presentation.

21 Day Challenge - The Magic Pill

In Ageless Grace we challenge participants to create a daily practice for 10 minutes a day of Ageless Grace movement - usually just 3 of the 21 Tools.  Like following your Dr.'s order for a prescription but there is no physical pill to take for wonderful effects. We call it the Ageless Grace PILL - Play Instead of Living Limited!

The following are recent testimonials from people who have created the habit:

I have been working away at Ageless Grace and have an exciting update.

you asked us to let you know if we complete the 21 day challenge..well I did..absolutely love it...I feel like it wakes up my body..I have kept it up daily since the class & will continue to do so. It is now the first thing I do when I get up in the morning...I could never get my left hand into a fist because of arthritis...now I can..also have less pain in my foot then when I started..I am now a strong advocate of this..so glad I went to your workshop...thanks a bunch..  Claudette London Ontario

Just finished today's practice and something amazing happened. I have been following Denise's videos each day, doing 4 of the exercises, this morning as I was working along to Yo Baby, Denise instructs to cross the knee, something I have not been able to do for years. I instinctively crossed my knee, I must say it was not perfect but it was crossed. I am so shocked, just had to share. Another thing I could do today was to touch the floor with my hands, again something I have not been able to do for a long time. Don't know which day I am on at this point, need to go back to the paperwork. In total, I have missed 3 days because of arthritis flare-ups that have left me lying flat on heating pads to get past the pain.   Mary from Sarnia Ontario

The NEUROSCIENCE of CREATIVITY ~ Tips to maximize your creativity.

Creativity is not a ‘right brain’ function. Creativity is a whole brain process involving cognition, emotion, and conscious and unconscious processing.

There are three large-scale brain networks involved:

1.       Executive Attention Network involved in attention, problem solving, use of working memory and focus. Involves communication between lateral prefrontal cortex and posterior parietal lobe.

2.       Imagination Network constructs dynamic mental simulations such as remembering, thinking about the future, imagining alternative perspectives and scenarios, and social cognition. Involves prefrontal cortex, medial temporal lobe and parietal cortex.

 3.       Salience Network constantly monitors both external events – executive and imagination. Consists of dorsal anterior cingulate cortices and anterior insular cortex. 

 You want to loosen your associations, allow your mind to roam free, imagine new possibilities and silence the inner critic.

Tips to maximize your creativity:

• Become an expert.

• Observe what is currently available and what problems they face.

• Step out of your comfort zone.

• Be willing to work alone.

• Talk to outsiders or non-experts for a novel perspective about your work.

• Have fun and use positive mood.

• Take a nap or let your mind wander.

• Take a break.

• Challenge yourself by disrupting your daily routine.

• Intentionally trying to dream about a particular problem (dream incubation).

“…being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." Csikszentmihalyi

I’m Barbara Kunz, Canadian Ageless Grace Trainer and my passion is to help aging adults to tap into their creativity and imagination through body and brain movements.  Creativity has been known as one of the five areas of the brain that when ‘sparked up’ can help improve or maintain your brain health. It’s as easy as child’s play! 

I would like to thank Dr. Sarah McKay, Founder of The Neuroscience Academy for the above information.

Please connect with me at barbarakunz@rogers.com or www.barbarakunz.org

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN To Thrive From Nine to Five

Age 42: The age our brain begins to power down. 

What is in better shape: your brain or your body?

We cannot rest on our laurels believing “once smart, always smart.”  We must constantly engage our brain to keep it sharp.

Our bodies are outliving our brains. We feel the aches and pains of physical loss, but what about indications of mental decline?

Statistics Canada tells us that the life expectancy for those born in 1972 is 69 for males and 76 for females.  Yet our cognitive brain performance peaks in our early 40’s. That means mental functions like memory, speed of thinking, problem solving, reasoning and decision making can start to deteriorate in our last 30 or 40 years of life.

The direction our brain health goes depends on us and the way we challenge it – at home, work and play.

Harnessing the power of our frontal lobe (the part of our brain responsible for planning reasoning, novel thinking, decision making, judgement and managing emotions) will increase creativity, energy and focus as well as support mental independence throughout our life span.

Just as we’ve come to realize that we can improve our physical health through diet and workouts, so too can we improve our cognitive health.

The truth is our brain adapts from moment to moment depending on how we use it.  It either declines or improves.  The direction our brain health goes depends on us and the way we challenge it – at home, work and play.

Science shows that our brain is at least as modifiable if not more so, as any other part of our body.  Taking advantage of a unique quality known as neuroplasticity, the brain’s inherent ability to adapt and change throughout life, you can train your brain for health and productivity. 

Enter Ageless Grace® - a new brain and body exercise.  http://agelessgrace.com/

This movement introduces all ages and all abilities to the 21 Simple Tools for Lifelong Comfort and Ease. Each tool addresses a primary factor that causes aging in the body.  All 21 tools stimulate and utilize the five areas of the brain – analytical, strategic, kinesthetic learning, memory/recall and creativity and imagination!

Ageless Grace re-opens the neural pathways that were created from the time you were born until approximately the age of 21 years old. Functional and cognitive skills were developed through typical childhood games, sports and activities that are now no longer “practiced” as adults. The 21 Tools of Ageless Grace re-open those pathways and equally important create new ones by practicing functional movements we don’t already know how to do.

Practicing, remembering and learning these simple skills allow positive results to come surprisingly quickly – much like remembering how to ride a bicycle after many years. This is where neuroplasticity takes place (the ability of the brain and nervous system to change structurally and functionally) and is vital to active aging and youthful function.

Denise Medved, Creator and Founder of Ageless Grace talks about neuroplasticity here: https://youtu.be/GG5pGFSOeeU   

The movement Tools of Ageless Grace are organic and focus on using the core to stimulate cognitive function and physical function simultaneously. The Tools are practiced sitting in a chair for stability and range of motion. Ageless Grace is easy to do at the office or at home.

Before your next meeting pick 3 upbeat songs and try these 3 Ageless Grace Exercise Tools – just 10 minutes with participants seated in a chair.

Exercise Tool #1 Juicy Joints
Benefits: Joint Mobility and Ligament Flexibility, Circulation

Body Parts to Move:  Ankles and Wrist, Knees and Elbows, Hips and Shoulders, Fingers and Toes, Spine (Neck, between Shoulder Blades, Lower Back

Ways to Move Them:  Circling, Up & Down, In & Out, Rolling and Waving, Shaking, Pulsing, Vibrating

Exercise Tool #18 Shake It Up Baby
Benefits:  Fascia/Connective Tissue, Nervous System Stimulation, Skin and Connective Tissue Health, Agility

Body Parts to Move:  Arms and Legs, Shoulders, Rib Cage, Chest Muscles, Back of the Body, Jawbone (Relax! Open the mouth slightly and part the teeth) and Head, Open Hands (rather than clenched)

Ways to Move Them: Shake, vibrate, shimmy, tremor, with abandon and lack of self-consciousness; Relaxing the muscles and ligaments; release and let go!; Loosening the Fingers and Hands; Dropping the Jaw or opening the Mouth

Exercise Tool #17 Grab Bag
Benefits: Dexterity in the Hands, Finger and Ankles; Muscle strength, Joint Flexibility and Mobility, Eye-hand Coordination, Right/left Brain Function

Body Parts to Move:  Fingers, Hands and Arms, Head, Eyes and Neck as you watch what your hands are doing, Spine (neck and shoulder blades and lower back)

Ways to Move Them: In the spirit of playful , childlike wonder; Quickly, sharply, with great speed; High and low engaging the spine and lower body; Reaching under the legs, under the sides and front of the chair to engage the hip joints

Barbara Kunz is an Ageless Grace Trainer and Educator in London.  She has been teaching since 2012 and has seen many positive results when people take time to exercise their brain and body.

Consider an Ageless Grace session at your next staff meeting.

Click her for a free gift from Ageless Grace: http://agelessgrace.com/free-gift/

References:

www.agelessgrace.com

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/health26-eng.htm

http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/

 

Ageless Grace in a Nutshell!

Ageless Grace is a cutting-edge brain fitness program based on neuroplasticity that activates all

5 functions of the brain - analytical, strategic, kinesthetic learning, memory/recall, creativity and imagination - and simultaneously addresses all 21 physical skills needed for lifelong optimal function.

Created by Denise Medved, the program consists of 21 simple exercise Tools designed for all ages and abilities. These exercises, based on everyday movements that are natural and organic, focus on the healthy longevity of the body and mind.

The 21 Tools have creative, imaginative names, so they are easy to remember. They are simple to do at home. The movements are designed to be performed seated in a chair, yet they can be done on a bed, standing near or behind a chair, down on the floor, or standing. Almost anyone can do them, regardless of most physical conditions.

Each of the Ageless Grace Tools emphasizes different anti-aging techniques:

joint mobility                                  spinal flexibility         

right-left brain coordination         bone density

kinesthetic learning                       cognitive function      

systemic health                               balance (fall prevention)

fall prevention                                 self- esteem                 confidence                                       playfulness

The easy-to-learn Tools promote the ‘Three R’s” of lifelong comfort and ease – the ability to Respond, React, and Recover efficiently and safely.

The Ageless Grace Tools include right and left-brain activities and numbered sequences of physical movements in patterns that play ‘games’ with the mind. There are also mind-body directions that allow the brain to consciously choose and direct the movement of the body in either a random or specific sequence.

The 21 Tools have vivid, easy-to-remember names and include imagery, creativity, playfulness, variety, polarity, sound, expression, words and games. They are used to stimulate and release endorphins and engage the nervous system.

Kinesthetic Learning is a learning style in which learning takes place by the students carrying out physical activities, rather than listeningor watching demonstrations.

Cognitive Function is an intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering.

Chair Exercises – Why is Ageless Grace performed in a chair?

One of the most common questions we’re asked is why Ageless Grace is performed in a chair. Shouldn’t exercise be performed standing up?

Not necessarily.

The Benefits of Chair Exercises

Challenge Your Brain If someone asked you to play baseball, or do yoga, or perform a breast stroke while seated, chances are you would have to think about how to move your body to make this happen. When you have to figure out how to move your body in a new and different way you are engaging your brain.

Core Strength It is often easy to ‘cheat’ when standing up and performing an exercise. You can avoid using the parts of your body that aren’t strong by using muscles that are strong – but when you sit in a chair you must use your core muscles. A stronger core makes for a stronger and happier body!

Almost anyone can exercise in a chair. It really levels the playing field. Twisted your ankle? Just had surgery? Do you have limited mobility? Does regular exercise (standing up) make you dizzy? Just sit down and perform the same motions in a chair!