Brain Training: How To Make Your Brain Buff!

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

brain training

Being a Fit Mother means being strong both physically and mentally. You do strength training but are you doing brain training?

Having a strong body and being in great physical shape is often the first thing women think of when it comes to health.

But mind and body health truly go hand in hand.

It’s no secret that exercise helps improve your emotional well-being.

The endorphins released during a workout can decrease stress and anxiety and even help with pain relief.

Physical activity is an amazing outlet that allows women to strengthen both their bodies and their minds at the same time.

Working out on your own or in a group setting is one of the best treatments out there when it comes to decreasing stress and empowering the mind.

But you can also improve your mental health and strengthen your mind-body connection by specifically training your brain.

This in turn will improve your physical health. As you can see it is a constant feedback loop between your mental and physical fitness.

As a busy mom, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life. Your mind is constantly filled with mental “chatter” that is all too often negative.

Even as you read this article your mind has probably already drifted to other thoughts.

Concerns about your job, feelings of inadequacy, or even wondering what others are saying on social media are just some of the constant distracting thoughts that fill our minds every day.

Living in the moment isn't always easy, but with brain training, you can be more present, enhance your quality of life, and create huge positive changes in your health and wellness!

Find out how to make your mind happy by training your mental health!

Brain Training

The great thing about empowering your mental strength is that you can “train” every single day. And it doesn’t take a big time commitment.

By simply devoting 5-10 minutes each day to your mental health you will reap huge health rewards.

One of the best ways to start working on your mental well-being is through meditation.


Living a healthy lifestyle is not just about being physically fit, but also about your mental and emotional well-being.

Being able to manage your stress levels allows you to not only be healthier overall but to live a high quality of life.

Stress can have a negative impact on health in a number of ways. It is a complex issue and one that we all face on a day-to-day basis, even if we aren't aware of it.

Feeling overwhelmed with life can lead to fatigue and disinterest in activities.

This makes it hard to focus on your own health and fitness and can lead to poor eating habits, exercising less, and even becoming more distant from your friends and family.

Plus, increased stress also impacts your physical health directly. Stress increases inflammatory hormones like cortisol.

This catabolic hormone leads to muscle breakdown along with increased appetite and weight gain.

In addition, chronic inflammation is associated with chronic diseases and cellular aging.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve your mental health that don’t require anything more than 5-10 minutes a day and an open mind. One of these methods is meditation.

Mindful meditation allows you to become present at the moment and become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

After a long day of work and taking care of your family, it can be restorative to take just ten minutes for yourself to engage in meditation.

Research has shown that those who practice meditation have decreased levels of stress and an overall improved outlook on life.

Typically the hardest part of performing meditation is getting started.

While there are a number of different styles of meditation, the easiest thing to do for beginners is to start with simple breathing techniques.

  • To begin, find a quiet room where there are no distractions.
  • Sit in a comfortable position either on a chair or a mat and begin to focus on your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale.
  • Try to stay in tune with your body and notice where you feel the breath.
  • Deeply inhale through your nose as you expand your chest and stomach, and then slowly exhale through your mouth as you lengthen out your breath.
  • Start out with just five minutes in the morning or before bed.

If you can be consistent with this on a daily basis you will soon start to notice improvements in your mental health.

If you still find it hard to meditate without guidance, there are some great apps that you can download.

Most of these meditation programs include music, peaceful sounds, and cues to help you meditate and get in tune with your body.

And research has found that these apps actually work.

A 2018 study found that mindfulness app users showed significant improvements in stress-related issues such as depressive symptoms, resilience, and mindfulness.

In addition, those who continued to use the apps frequently were more likely to maintain improvements in mental health.

Learn about the benefits of meditation and why you should meditate every day!


Another great way to connect your mind and body is through yoga.

Yoga is one of the top exercises for improving physical health and brain health.

Yoga doesn't have to just be complicated poses.

The best way to begin a yoga program is to start with simple poses that allow you to focus on your breathing and become aware of how your body moves through each pose.

This in turn will promote mental health.

Some simple, yet effective, yoga moves for engaging the mind-body connection include:

Tree Pose

  • Stand upright and shift your weight into your right foot while lifting your left foot off the floor.
  • Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot high onto your inner right thigh.
  • Take 5 to 10 breaths, then lower your left foot to the floor and repeat on the other side.

Cobra Stretch

  • Lie face down, with your hands by your shoulders as if you were doing a push-up.
  • Push your torso up as far as possible or until your hips begin to come off the floor.
  • Hold for 5 deep breaths then lower back down.
  • Repeat 1-2 more times.

Downward Dog

  • Start in a plank position.
  • Bring your hips up into the air so that your body is in an inverted V position.
  • Try to keep your heels as close to the ground as possible.
  • Hold for 5 full breaths.
  • Come back into a plank position.
  • Then repeat 1-2 times.

Child’s Pose

  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • Bring your body to the ground with your stomach between your thighs and your forehead to the floor.
  • Stretch your arms in front of you with your palms toward the floor.
  • Stay as long as you like, but for at least 5 full breaths.

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Brain Training Apps

If you are having trouble engaging in the present moment on your own, there are a number of different apps that you can download to help guide you.


Headspace was co-founded by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist Monk who was fully ordained at a Tibetan Monastery in the Himalayas.

The goal of Headspace was to make meditation accessible, relevant, and beneficial to as many people as possible.

This app includes a library full of mediation courses for all areas of mental wellness.

You can choose from a wide array of focus topics, from general stress and anxiety to more focused areas such as meditation for competitive sports or dealing with work-related issues.

Headspace also incorporates movement exercises focused on breathing and stretching, and even includes audio to help with sleep.


Another great mindfulness app is Calm.

Similar to Headspace, this app provides guided meditations tools and sleep aids.

The meditation area offers breathing exercises, daily meditation, several multi-day programs, and unguided and guided meditation sessions.

Train Your Brain For Overall Health

We all know that physical fitness is important for overall health.

There are countless ads, magazine covers, and health studies that rightly tout the importance of exercise to decrease chronic diseases and increase longevity and quality of life.

However, your mental and emotional wellbeing is just as important, if not more so, than simply your physical health.

And in turn, a healthy mindset will improve your overall physical fitness in a constant feedback loop.

When you have a strong mind, you are more present at the moment, which enhances joy and contentment with everything you are doing.

This will further motivate you to work out, eat right, and even improve your quality of sleep at night.

Not only will you want to be more active, brain training actually has a positive effect on many measurable attributes of physical health.

Exercises like meditation can improve chronic health issues associated with stress.

Meditation and relaxation techniques have been shown to create small, yet beneficial, decreases in blood pressure.

In addition, regular meditation may also play a role in a non-pharmacologic approach to helping relieve chronic pain.

So there is a multitude of reasons to add meditation into your daily routine.

Mindfulness exercises have also been found to help decrease markers of inflammation and turn on genes that can even help you live longer!

For example, a study from Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that a yoga and meditation-based lifestyle significantly reduced the rate of cellular aging in healthy adults.

Meditation is a great way to combat increased stress and improve your overall quality of life.

This simple technique can be done in the comfort of your own home and really only takes 10 minutes every day to free your mind and become more in tune with your body’s needs.

Adding meditation into my daily routine has even helped me improve my own fitness and mental health.

I am truly able to experience the release of both physical and mental stress after just 10 to 15 minutes of quiet breathing and relaxation.

And I have even seen improvements in my athletic performance!

While it may seem difficult when you first start meditating, stick with it and you will start to see the benefits almost instantly.

By adding daily meditation into your life, you will be well on your way to a clearer mind and healthier body.

Holly Smith, M.D.
B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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