North County Water & Sports Therapy Center June 2018


Meditation has often been touted by New Age gurus as a way to find inner peace and stillness. But what if meditating could reduce the effects of aging on your brain? According to research, taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate may improve cognitive function. As meditation’s popularity has spread, so have studies of the practice. The results of 100 studies examining the cognitive

age-related thinning. Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist specializing in the effects of yoga and meditation on cognitive and behavioral function, reports that long- time meditators don’t show a decline in the thickness of the prefrontal cortex. THE HIPPOCAMPUS Your hippocampus helps you process and form new memories, and it’s very sensitive to stress. In fact, research shows that your hippocampus will shrink in response to stressful situations and chronic stress. The remedy? Meditation. Dr. Lazar’s study showed a positive correlation between meditation and a higher concentration of gray matter in the left hippocampus. THE AMYGDALA Often called the fear center of the brain, the amygdala is triggered by stressful situations. But unlike the hippocampus, which shrinks in response to stress, the amygdala has been shown to become denser. In one study, people who attended mindfulness meditation classes showed a smaller stress response in brain scans compared to those who did not attend the classes. Meditation may help to decrease the density of the amygdala and therefore increase your ability to handle stress. Of course, in addition to these benefits, there’s a good chance that five minutes of meditation each day will simply make you feel better. People who meditate report an increase in overall well-being. Why not give it a try?

effects of meditation all show evidence of improvements in psychological and cognitive functions. Some of the results are intuitive, such as how meditation helps us deal with stress. But other results are incontrovertible, such as scans showing that meditation causes structural changes in the brain. For people facing age-related changes like memory loss, the results of these tests are especially relevant. The studies point to evidence that meditation can strengthen certain areas of the brain — the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala — that weaken as we age. THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX Your prefrontal cortex thins with age, which is associated with decreased cognitive function in your later years. However, meditation may reduce this


Fight Against Sex Trafficking Through the Freedom Challenge

Easily the best part of our practice is all the amazing people we get to meet. Our patients do incredible things, and we love to support them when we get the chance. Dr. Shauna Schneider, a long-time pilates patient here, is definitely one such patient. This year, she and her daughter, Erin, have committed to raise their voices for the voiceless as a team hiking together in the Freedom Challenge. The Freedom Challenge is “a movement of passionate women dedicated to freeing oppressed and enslaved women and children all around the world.” Sex trafficking may not be something that is discussed often and openly, but it’s a huge problem in our backyard and across the globe. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that 1 out of 6 endangered runaways in the U.S. are victims of sex trafficking. Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people suffering forced sexual exploitation. The vast majority of these victims are women, and a significant portion are underage teens and children. To combat this horrible, tragic situation, the Freedom Challenge raises money to aid the fight against sex trafficking around the globe. They invite individuals and teams to participate in physical challenges located everywhere from Kilimanjaro to Machu Picchu. Shauna and Erin’s team, the Soul Sisters, will be hiking Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park beginning on Friday, June 22, through Wednesday, June 27.

Shauna and Erin have been training for months to endure this gruelling challenge in the name of a more-than-worthy cause. At North County Water & Sports Therapy Center, we stand in solidarity with the Schneiders, the Freedom Challenge, and ending sex trafficking and any other forms of systemic exploitation worldwide. If you’d like to support the Soul Sisters in their Freedom Challenge, go to to donate to their team. To learn more about The Freedom Challenge, head to

We are inspired by the Schneiders and their desire to make the world a safer, better place for women and children. 2

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