Jennifer Heisz, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Brain Health and Aging in Kinesiology at McMaster University and author of ‘Move the Body, Heal the Mind.’ She directs the NeuroFit lab at McMaster where research is done to study ways to promote mental and physical health, thus improving cognitive abilities. Jennifer is a triathlete and recent solo ironman finisher.
Listen & Subscribe on:
iTunes / Stitcher / Podbean / Overcast / Spotify
Book: Move The Body, Heal The Mind: Overcome Anxiety, Depression, and Dementia and Improve Focus, Creativity, and Sleep by Jennifer Heisz phd
Most Influential Person
Eckhart Tolle. I read a lot of his work. I listened to his audiobook while I was cycling. Oh, yeah. Just that that consistent message, the power of now, you know, being in the present moment. That's been that that was a really helpful message to me at the time when I had discovered him.
Effect on Emotions
I would say that mindfulness helps me be less reactive to my emotions. So sure stressors still exist in my life, but I'm less reactive to them. And, and they their options rather than truce. And so it allows me to take a step back and decide how I want to react or not react.
Thoughts on Breathing
I talked about attention to breath in the book(Move The Body, Heal The Mind), and throughout the book, because this is a really helpful way to incorporate mindfulness into movement.
Research shows that when we pay attention to the breath, it really helps to soothe a brain region called the amygdala, which is our fear and threat detection center in the brain.
Paying attention to our breath, our prefrontal cortex, which is the logic part of our brain can help soothe that anxious amygdala so that we don't feel as afraid or anxious.
My book is called Move The Body, Heal The Mind, and is about exercise but exercise, in my opinion, is just one tool in the whole toolkit you can use to help support your mental health. And meditation is also another one, a very important one that I do every morning, I do a little bit of meditation, whether, depending on the time, I have five minutes, or 30 minutes, and just just reconnecting with, the center, reconnecting with a peace and calmness within me.
That helps to reframe and refocus my mind for the day. So mindfulness has been such an important part of my life for a long time. And I think it's good direct brain training. It trains the brain, the thought patterns, so that you can have control over those thoughts.
When we move our bodies in challenging ways, we do enter into the present moment more readily. And then there's a direct correlation we show in our research, between people who are more active and people who are more mindful. So they really do go hand in hand.
Book: A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last by Stephen Levine
Book: Move The Body, Heal The Mind: Overcome Anxiety, Depression, and Dementia and Improve Focus, Creativity, and Sleep by Jennifer Heisz phD
The kids in my school were just, you know, they were just cruel. They would just sing a song, you know, it ain't over till the fat lady sings. “Come on, Jen sing.”
But I think I was always able to just let it slide. I think nowadays, maybe, you know, my own thoughts are my own bully.
That's the bullying that I need to be most mindful of, is the sort of negative self-talk that that can creep in. Especially when I'm stressed and anxious.
So for sure, I would say these days, the bullying is is self induced. I certainly benefit from really stepping back from the thoughts and taking a very careful look at the accuracy of the thoughts and then potentially just sending them on their way, letting them float away.
The Mindful Movement; Sara Raymond
Mindful Movement In Addiction Treatment; Kendra Kirane
Movement Makers Community