Building a Brain Healthy Lifestyle

with Ryan Glatt,

Senior Brain Health Coach, Director of FitBrain at Pacific Neuroscience Institute Foundation

This week on the Art of Aging, host Michael Hughes chats with Ryan Glatt, Senior Brain Health Coach and Director of FitBrain at Pacific Neuroscience Institute Foundation. During this conversation, Mike and Ryan discuss concepts surrounding brain exercise. Topics in this discussion include unlocking motivation to help change behaviors, brain benefits from neuromotor exercise, finding enjoyment in an exercise program, how group exercise brings internal and external accountability, and more.
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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • Ryan’s journey into the brain health space and why he is so passionate about it (2:04)
  • Unlocking motivations to help change behaviors (9:15)
  • Attitudes impact on brain health (13:31)
  • Exploring the concept of exer-gaming (15:50)
  • The importance of neuromotor exercise (20:06)
  • Brain benefits from neuromotor exercise (27:08)
  • How to find enjoyment in exercise programs (29:05)
  • Group exercise brings external accountability (32:53)
  • Connecting with Ryan (35:55)
  • Abundant Aging questions for Ryan (36:48)


Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit


Michael Hughes 00:07
Everybody and welcome to The Art of aging, which is part of the abundant aging podcast series from United Church homes. I’m Mike, your host for today and on the show, we look at what it means to age in America, and in other places around the world with positive and empowering conversations that challenge, encourage and inspire everyone everywhere to eight buttons. And today we are talking about exercise, but more specifically the power of exercise to impact the health of your brain. You may know about aerobics, you may know about strength and resistance training. But there’s another component that’s not talked about enough and that’s what we call neuro motor. Neuro motor activity incorporates cognitive and physical stimulants to impact brain health. And it is all part of building a brain healthy lifestyle, which is what we’re going to be talking about today. And we’ve got a great personnel teed up to talk about that, the one and only Ryan clot. Welcome, Ryan, thank you for being here.

Ryan Glatt 00:57
Thanks for having me, Mike. Excited to be here.

Michael Hughes 01:00
Thank you. Ryan’s got over a decade of experience in the health and fitness space. He is both a personal trainer and a brain health coach. And he works alongside clinicians and researchers to study the effect of activities and exercise that are designed to stimulate the brain. And he does this at the Pacific Brain Health Center in Santa Monica, California, which is where he’s dialing in from very early today. And thank you for doing that, as well as Brian’s got a bachelor, bachelor’s in exercise science. And he’s got a master’s in applied neuroscience as we all do, right. And he’s here to share his wisdom and welcome, welcome. Welcome again. Ryan, before we get into it, I got a lawyer statement I gotta read. And by the way, for all the listeners, I’m getting over laryngitis. But the grind does not stop at United Church homes. We are going to move ahead and we’re gonna be doing our podcast. So just be patient with me and my, my unusual voice for today. So we are talking about health and exercise. And we’re gonna be talking about Ryan ‘s opinions of myself. If you’re planning to start to change your health, fitness or wellness plan, please check with your doctor and medical team. So on before you start. So now that the legalese is out of the way, let’s get into a little bit about your background. Right, first of all, I mean, why are you so passionate about this world of exercise and brain health?

Ryan Glatt 02:20
Yeah, that’s a great question. And a lot of my close friends will kind of tell you, I can pick one thing to be very obsessive about and be passionate about it. But this is the thing I certainly have stuck with the longest and I’ve seen to make my lifelong career out of just because I think neuroscience is endlessly fascinating. I think there’s a really important mission that pulls at both your heartstrings and your brain cells in terms of helping people with their brain health. And so the way I got into this is very serpentine. I started with an interest in animal behavior. Just watching Animal Planet as a kid, I’m like, animals are cool. I want to know how their brains work. And then I just started to like, I don’t know why my parents never, like question that or push that further. But they just let me go like this animal behavior and training route. I was applying to a community college in my hometown that had the country’s only Teaching Zoo, which I’m like, oh, it’s meant to be right. And it’s because it’s a community college. It’s a lottery program. So it’s not based on merit. I didn’t end up getting in, but around the time I applied, I had also started losing a lot of weight, kind of in my senior year of high school. I was pretty overweight as a kid. I’m a 90s kid. I was born in 91. So I’m a huge gamer. I wasn’t on the sports teams. I was always the kid that finished last in the mile. I probably still am. But I got into health and fitness at a local gym that opened up across from my high school. As soon as I didn’t get into this animal behavior program, I switched to a kinesiology program to kind of get into a little bit of personal training like Oh, I’d love to help people kind of do what I did, which I think is a very common like success story. Like when you experience success in your own thing, you want to help other people do it. And around that time, I jumped into kinesiology. My mother started to experience kidney disease and had a leg amputation and was going through physical therapy. I went to her physical therapy appointment with her. I saw the way this physical therapist worked with her. And he was also training her to transfer weight onto her new prosthetic leg. And the way he was doing that, or one of the ways he was doing that was using the Nintendo Wii and using the tennis game and the bowling game to try to get her to transfer weight. And I was blown away. I’m like, Oh my gosh, using video games to help people move with a purpose in a way that distracts them also with purpose. And so one she really enjoyed it and I love kind of the rapport that therapists had with my mom, who wasn’t usually the most health motivated person. And so I set my eyes on physical therapy. And so I got my bachelor’s and exercise And then, similar to the animal program after I finished the Exercise Science degree, I applied to a bunch of schools and I didn’t get in, like, Okay, let me take a gap year, I did some volunteer work. In West Africa, I worked at a PT clinic for about a year. And then I got into a school in Scotland for physical therapy or over there physiotherapy. I went over there, and I had the wrong visa, they put me in immigration detention jail for seven days. And that deported me back to LA. I said, Okay, that wasn’t supposed to happen, even though that never happened. So I kept just getting like, you know, I don’t know if I believe in divine intervention. But there’s a lot of signs and symptoms, like don’t do this. Don’t do that, like, Okay. Retrospectively, it’s just my lack of attention to detail and resilience to applying to programs. But it is what it is. So anyhow, I become a massage therapist, because I really just want to get my hands on people to help them move better. And so I’m a trainer, I’m a massage therapist. And as I’m doing bodywork and massage on people, I kind of realized that a lot of people get into pain or have trouble getting out of pain or just achieving their health goals, because of their behavior. And this kind of brought it back to the animal behavior thing. I’m like, what are people doing that they don’t get enough sleep, and that affects their back pain, or they’re not exercising enough, and that affects their knee pain. And so I started thinking about the brain. And I just got kind of cerebral with it. I put little EGG on people’s brains as I was doing body work and stuff like that. I was just like, super curious about neuroscience. And then I started thinking, like, what creates a healthy brain and I just dove into that. I said, Well, what creates a healthy brain from the lens of what I can help with, I’m not going to be a neurologist or a medical doctor or physical therapist even, I’m not going to be a clinician of any kind. So how can I as a health coach, as a personal trainer, and as a bodyworker, help a person with their brain health, I just went down the rabbit hole. And as I was getting burned out in massage therapy, I was getting more and more interested in neuroscience. And I started to realize that lifestyle, and read about that lifestyle interventions really help with brain health. And then probably it’s one of the most important things like okay, well, who, besides health and fitness professionals can help with lifestyle interventions. And, of course, there’s many professionals that can, but I kind of it kind of clicked for me, I’m like, Okay, if exercise is one of the things that’s incredibly impactful on brain health, and I am an exercise professional, what can I do to get the thing that is exercise to the outcome that is brain health, and what’s missing, and I can say, Oh, just eat your vegetables. It’s healthy for you. And conversely, I can say, just exercise is good for your brain. But that’s not really good enough. That’s not really specific enough. So I had to try to find a way like if someone came to me with a goal of brain health, what would I do differently? And that’s where I really started to dive into literature. And I was reading voraciously. I was trying to study, you know, what are the different effects of different types of exercise variables of intensity type, duration? What’s its effect in different populations, what effects are general, what effects are specific, and as soon as I felt like I had acquired this knowledge, I also started to look into extra gaming, kind of like the Nintendo Wii Dance Dance Revolution. And by the way, as a kid, I also lost weight off Dance Revolution and rehab from a concussion. So another kind of big symbol of extra gaming is incorporated into brain health. And so I started to look at the role of extra gaming and something called dual tasking, which is the ability to execute both a concurrent cognitive and motor task. And I wanted to incorporate this as an exercise professional, I didn’t want to become a therapist, I didn’t want to try to implement something too clinical or anything like that. I just want to do something from the frame of an exercise professional, that is still movement. And then as soon as I figured out that I could incorporate gaming with that. I was all in. I was all in because I’m a huge gamer, still am. And I started to work with kids on the spectrum of people with Parkinson’s, older adults into individuals with dementia. And then about five years ago, I heard in my neighborhood, there was a brain health center opening up. I happened to get in touch with someone who was going to become the director of research. And they said they wanted to start a brain gym. And here we are. So

Michael Hughes 09:23
That’s what I want to unpack next. Ryan, he has the concept of a brain food for thought, I just want to kind of reflect that there’s a lot there. But I just love the elements of the story. There’s so much there about just your true cheery Audacity. You’re learning by doing which, which is terrific, and then sort of really just breaking apart of this idea of lifestyle and behaviors and all that. And the work that we do at United Church columns and really just trying to move the needle on positive outcomes for folks that may have functional limitations that may have multiple products and all that engagement is so important, right? I mean, engagement in the exercise and really just attaching that meaning to the exercise, and that’s a big thing to delete when getting people to eat their vegetables, right? I mean, are getting even getting, I like to say nobody takes pills because they like how they taste right? You know. So, you know, what is that? So you’ve really kind of unlocked this thing about motivation, about behaviors. And that’s not necessarily as simple to model from a data perspective as a clinical care pathway, right? I mean, human beings, their motivations are very abstract. And it’s a lot. It’s a lot of art in art versus science. Right. I mean, that’s, I don’t know what your experience has been really trying to get them to get on walks, you know?

Ryan Glatt 10:37
Yeah, I mean, it depends how you look at it. But health coaching, and behavior change is a science and there’s a lot of science to be applied. And to become a health coach, you actually need to be a board certified health coach, there’s an organization called the National Board of Health and wellness coaches, used to take at least a one year program, and then take a board certification exam, and you will actually get an NPI number. And I think one of the things that they’re trying to do is incorporate health coaches into health care. And for four years, I worked for Providence Health as a health coach, and now working for our foundation just adjacent to it. And so health coaching is kind of getting a big movement, people are taking it more seriously, it’s less airy, and artsy as people might think it is. And it is a science. And it can be as simple as you know, an individual takes a Mediterranean diet questionnaire and a sleep questionnaire and a physical activity questionnaire. And after one week of coaching, 30 minutes, or one session per week, for 30 minutes for six months, you might find that individuals adhere significantly better to those things, or improve their adherence to a diet or activity levels, much more than people without coaching. And there’s plenty of research to support that from a brain health perspective as well. And it kind of makes sense, like most of us have some sort of external accountability. And it doesn’t need to be this magical insight to get you to do something. But coaching is also not a thing that just gets you to do something. And it’s really just understanding people’s beliefs, maybe they don’t believe that they can improve their brain with older age, and therefore that belief needs to change with scientific education, or they have a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, that’s a significant perceived health threat. And that increases motivation to then start doing things they maybe should have been doing a long time ago. And that’s true for most people, a lot of people may not be as motivated until there’s a health scare. That’s called the Health belief model. And so there’s all sorts of scientific evidence to support the basis of behavior change, but also techniques like motivational interviewing, it’s not going to be a good example. But you know, on a scale of one to 10, how motivated are you to exercise five days a week? On a scale of one to 10? How confident do you feel 10 being the most, that you can exercise five days a week, and just getting into that conversation, and trying to identify the barriers and understand people’s preferences. And I like to argue that’s probably why I’m pursuing a PhD right now. I like to be critical. But I also like to negotiate. And I feel like a lot of health coaching can be just negotiating with people like oh, you don’t like outside, let’s try inside. You don’t like online, what about in person, it’s just giving people options, kind of like at a restaurant. And I like to say we’re increasing the restaurant menu of Health Options, until you find what you like. And that’s really all it is, in my mind. Of course, it is more complicated than that. It’s not the definition of coaching. But that’s kind of how I look at it.

Michael Hughes 13:40
But it also has impacts for longevity, right? For the audience. And for yourself, we will have some at least at this point in 2023. We’re gonna have some upcoming episodes with Dr. Tracey Gendron, who’s chair of the dermatology department at Virginia Commonwealth award winning author, but you’re in conversations with her, you know, one’s own attitude about you what you can accomplish for you, as you age and your belief in, you know, basically rolling with your evolving functional needs, and all the rest of your attitude actually lends itself to greater longevity. Yeah, you know, I think on average, seven years to your life with just the right sort of the right mindset and behavioral attitudes about what’s healthy for you as you age.

Ryan Glatt 14:22
Yeah, positive, interrelated beliefs are huge, even for reducing dementia risk, I think, for the brain, especially people who really don’t understand the brain as well as they could or should. And there’s a lot of myths about the brain, you know, things like, Oh, my brain cannot change with age. That’s not an accurate belief. But if you truly believe that, of course, you’re not going to try things that you believe could do that or are told that right, he’s right. So that makes sense.

Michael Hughes 14:50
Create your own barrier. Yeah. And what she was also saying was that this actually just goes back to the idea of mild cognitive attitude and believing actually alleviates mild cognitive symptoms. I don’t know if that’s something that you’ve encountered, or just basically, just the connection between, I don’t know, brain healthy lifestyles are the right attitudes. And the idea of the mild cognitive symptoms. I don’t know

Ryan Glatt 15:18
What Yeah, no, there has, there has been some research that demonstrates, individuals with positive age related beliefs have a reduced dementia risk compared to those with negative age related beliefs. Now, I don’t think just changing the belief itself will create the outcome. But if the belief leads to behaviors that are lifestyle behaviors that are proven to help with the outcome, whatever that might be, that’s something that I would definitely vouch for.

Michael Hughes 15:50
And that’s part of the health belief model I think you were talking about before. Can be sure. Not to put words in your mouth? Because we know when we were talking about prepping the concept of a brain gem came? Yeah, you know, and can you explain to me what a brain gem is?

Ryan Glatt 16:07
Yeah, so it’s not a super original concept. But it is a rare concept. So extra gaming, which is active video games, like the Nintendo Wii, which I think was a really big hit. And still is, in many ways among older adults and intergenerationally. And things like Dance Revolution, or the Xbox or Microsoft Kinect. These things, especially in the early 2000s, and late 90s, were extremely popular. And now we have things like the Nintendo Switch, we have the Oculus, or the mega quest, with virtual reality movement games, augmented reality with phones and screens. And just gaming in general, I mean, people are interested in gaming in general, especially for brain health. And so extra gaming, this act of gaming, this concept has been studied for quite a while in a variety of populations for a variety of different outcomes from everything from knee rehabilitation, to chronic lower back pain to older adults with balance issues, to cognitive issues. And so one of the things I really got into was a lot of this research demonstrating that there can be cognitive benefits, as well as physical benefits to extra gaming. And so, for me a concept of a brain gym, it can be in a community or clinical setting. In our sense, it’s in a clinical setting. But we have people from the community come in to work with me, and that I’m like a brain based personal trainer. But we also have physical therapists that work in the same space. And that’s the clinical side. And so it’s a space that has a variety of extra games, anything from virtual reality headsets, to brain training boards, and screens and lights and things of that regard to get people moving and thinking at the same time. In some research, they call it a clinical arcade, where all the therapy or the exercise or the intervention is gamified. And you accomplish the exercise of the brain training through the lens of a game. That’s the main idea. Now, I mentioned dual tasking earlier, which is the execution of a simultaneous cognitive and motor task. The most common example is like counting backwards while walking. That’s one example of probably 50 different tasks. Mentally, we could give somebody. But before I had technology at my disposal, I was using cones and dots with letters and numbers on the ground, and my own interaction with people and apps to create kind of a low tech low budget version of the High Tech High budget version that we have now. And so anyone can do this. And I’ve trained, I have an online course called the brain health trainer course for fitness professionals and rehab professionals to train people how to do this. And we’ve had about 3000 people go through this course. And mostly personal trainers that work with older adults to incorporate this in a low budget, kind of no tech version, using just common fitness equipment, or speed, agility, quickness equipment, so it kind of can go from low tech to high tech in that way. And the brain gym concept is kind of like mid tech to high tech. And there’s many kinds of interested parties, from hospitals to Senior Centers, to senior living communities that are very interested in incorporating this concept. So I really enjoy it because like I said, I’m a gamer and I love having people who maybe are my parents age or my grandparents age who always as a kid they just told me Oh, you play too many video games and kind of looking down i Oh Look who’s playing now.

Michael Hughes 19:50
Anyway, you can spend your whole life playing video games, right? I mean, I remember gosh, I even was on with my systems back in the day and I mean, I’m still a gamer now. Now my son, we enjoy it. And I think this is why I love Orangetheory. So much when I go and other things, you know, I need to love the gamification component of this, just because it’s just more data, more stimulation, more ways to kind of measure yourself, and to have fun. That’s the thing to have fun and to. And so when we look at the world of exercise, now, Ryan, you know, we can think of, you know, our resistance training or strength training, we can think about aerobic exercise or high intensity, and now we’re talking about neuro motor, right, this is it with with this B, neuro motor component.

Ryan Glatt 20:30
Yeah, that’s a great point. And it doesn’t mean that your heart rate can’t get up or your muscles can’t be challenged. But neuro motor is a category of exercise that isn’t new. It’s been there the whole time. But people haven’t really talked about it, or paid enough attention to it. If you read the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which is disseminated everywhere, including in medicine, is that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. And they’re kind of really hinting at aerobic, like, that’s mostly aerobic. And when we look at the aerobics revolution, of course, there’s a lot of research around that. And a lot of people still believe, especially older adults who live through that period, because I sure did. And that is the main way to exercise. That’s what exercise means is getting your heart rate up. And that’s not necessarily the full story here. Of course, that’s very important. And it does have significant brain health benefits. But there’s a lot more research now showing the brain benefits of strength training, as well, well, it doesn’t just have to be something where you’re doing a bicep curl on a machine, it could be a functional movement, where you have weights in your hand, and you’re lunging in different directions. And it’s complex, and it’s a skill. Similarly, that’s what, yeah, skill base size, right. So

Michael Hughes 21:51
That’s what I would love to unpack here, Ryan. And it’s just this idea of incorporating sort of a neuro motor element within your exercise plan. And one of the things that I’ve heard about, you know, bu being, you know, you know, coming out of this therapy world and the training world, and all that is that, you know, it is you’ve got, let’s say, if you’re doing physical therapy or rehabilitative therapy, you’ve got the environment of a rehab center, and those cues and the devices and the cup stacking and the pedal wheels and all that, but it’s not really associating the movement of the exercise with something that may be more that you’re used to in your environment, right. So when I think about it, what comes into my mind is neuromotor, strength training and how it works both ways. It’s just things that offer coordination or imbalance is kind of like, you know, the wood chopper movement, you know, as you’re actually chopping things out with your golf swing, or something that really is neuromotor, putting kind of like a practical real life example into it, or is it more abstract than that?

Ryan Glatt 22:57
This is a good point, I think what you’re really getting at, in a way, a saliency, which is like, is it meaningful to the individual, but also transfer, like, does it transfer to real life? And that’s what we call fast. Yeah,

Michael Hughes 23:11
That’s the thing, because the critique that I’ve heard about, you know, video games and things like that, that are meant for brain stimulation, believe me, there’s a lot of snake oil out there. And I can remember the luminosity thing, and all that. But then I also remember, you know, there’s researchers like Guiseley. And, you know, in San Francisco that’s done some work with his lab to actually have FDA approved gaming. But what I understood that the FDA has to overcome is this nature of I can do an activity with a gamification element of it, but I get really good at doing that activity. But is that transferable to other areas of

Ryan Glatt 23:44
my life? Correct? Yeah, yeah. So before I get to the far transfer conversation, which is probably one of the most important conversations we could have, I just want to further define neuro motors for people. So you kind of talked about things like the transverse plane and rotational movements. And so a neuromotor can be anything that just requires a little bit more cognitive engagement and coordination of activities. That could be a balanced exercise. That could be a transverse plane exercise. That could be a skillful exercise, but neuro motor exercises are likely going to be found naturalistically. And activities like sports, dance, martial arts, and a subcategory of neuro motor training is mind body exercise, tai chi, chi, Gong, pilates, and yoga. And so neuromotor exercises those categories. And when we list those are like, Oh, of course, that makes sense. They just have their home under this category. Even dual tasking and extra gaming is kind of an old its own subcategory underneath neuromotor exercise. Now, if you play a sport or dance in some way, you can acknowledge that there can be a lot of cardiovascular demand and benefit even in Tai Chi and your Yoga, there can be cardiovascular demand and benefit. And so it doesn’t have to be specifically just I’m on the treadmill for this period of time, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. But as people look to improve their, you know, implement socialization, and implement motor learning and skill learning and cognitive engagement, and dynamic balance, especially when they’re under distraction, because nobody falls when their focus, right, so nobody falls when they’re protecting themselves against, they fall when they’re distracted typically. And so, I think neuromotor exercise is a great medium to address a lot of that. And I don’t think a lot of people purposely incorporate that into an exercise program, because they don’t really know how it fits. And they may not know the specific benefits. Furthermore, we talked about skill, and you mentioned, like the movement of a golf club. And while that’s certainly coordinated, that’s what we call closed skill, meaning you know, what’s going to happen and when it’s kind of like walking and cycling, but open skill is something like ping pong, where if you’re playing a game of ping pong, you don’t know what’s gonna happen, and when so you have this kind of spectrum of chaotic versus known outcomes. And the chaotic outcomes, the open skill exercise can improve certain aspects of cognition, compared to close skill. Now, it doesn’t mean being open is better than being close. But there are unique kinds of brain exercise ingredients that we want to incorporate in, a lot of people are missing that open skill, cognitive demand. And so when we look at dance, if I’m rehearsing a choreography, that’s close skill, because I know what’s supposed to happen as I’m learning it, but then when I put the dance together, and I don’t know what to expect, it becomes more open skill. Golf is gonna remain a close skill, but still has cognitive demands, and there’s unpredictable elements of it, of course, but things like racquet sports, especially my favorite, which is ping pong, that’s gonna have a lot of chaos, a lot of unpredictability. Unless you’re just hitting your forehand. That’s kind of a closer skill. But then as you’re playing a game, that’s a more open skill. And there can be a lot of physical and cognitive demand and enjoyment associated with that unpredictability. So it’s really that skill learning and that unpredictability, that randomness, which a lot of life can throw at you that I think neuromotor exercise really has a home with,

Michael Hughes 27:18
and it just strikes me too, my son’s been doing karate for years, I used to be in martial arts. And, you know, the components of learning a martial art includes what we call our kata, or our forms where we’re going to be practicing movement and displaying, you know, strength punch, or a kick or a jump or what have you. And then you have the sparring part of it. And it almost seems to me, that’s a good example for that skill. With oak with both open and closed skills and kind of the same body of practice. Yeah,

Ryan Glatt 27:48
That’s correct. And a lot of research shows that these activities can improve cognition and can improve things like balance, and then you had a great question, which is does it transfer to the real world? Well, if I’m training ping pong, do I catch my arm and my reflexes faster? Do I catch something that falls? And I’ve certainly felt that, you know, if I improve my balance during a Tai Chi class, does that transfer to my balance when walking in those things have been shown to occur. There’s physical and cognitive and mental health and cardiac benefits associated with a whole host of different exercises. And the way it shows up in real life, well, you can measure for transfer, there’s different outcome measures that simulate buying or refilling medications online or going to the ATM. But there’s also just questionnaires that kind of assess people’s subjective cognition. Is word finding easier for you in everyday life in a conversation? Do you feel like it’s easier to walk? Is it easier to reach up and get those groceries, and even if we don’t assess that far transfer, or even if you notice a far transfer, it’s okay, that thing that you’re doing has cognitive and physical benefits and doesn’t help you with the ATM, that’s okay. You could still improve your cognitive functions and physical functions, and just stay in good mental and physical shape and be stimulated. That’s okay, too.

Michael Hughes 29:16
Yeah, and that was one of the questions too, because, you know, you know, how do you know if you’re making progress? I think we’re going back and starting the conversation about the positive mind state associated with longevity, you know, feeling that I mean, you just feel good while doing it. And I think that’s terrific. But going, you know, if you’re, I know, for me, you know, it took a couple of tries and different types of exercise programs to really understand one that, you know, first of all that I felt gave me a good mix of the, you know, aerobic and strength training and some element of unification or challenge or what have you, I still need to work on that. But for you know, a listener who may be saying, well, you know, there’s you’ve opened up my eyes to a lot of possibilities of incorporating a neuromotor on an exercise program, whether it be tai chi or Chi Gong, or martial arts, or ping pong, or whatever it might be just the elements of you know that, you know, those things that can stimulate the brain? How do people just land on the right thing for them? And what have you seen?

Ryan Glatt 30:17
It’s a great question. I think there are several ways to look at this, I think the common thing that people say is, oh, just find something you enjoy. And don’t worry about anything else. And that’s, that can be helpful. But that’s also not the only thing that is the most important thing. A lot of people are really hesitant to get into neuromotor exercise, because they don’t think they’ll be good at it. And to that, I say exactly, exactly like, Okay, your purpose in that activity is to develop a skill, the first stage of skill learning in any capacity is the cognitive stage of motor learning, which is awkward, and frustrating and cognitively demanding. And to that I say, exactly, it’s supposed to be cognitively demanding. If it wasn’t, it may not be challenging or help for your brain. So a lot of people just need to get past this first step of embarrassment, I say the goal is not to be good at it, otherwise, I wouldn’t be recommending it for you. The goal is to challenge your brain. And so if someone has, as an example, a dynamic balance problem, stepping in multiple directions, and maintaining balance, and they have an issue of a short term memory, keeping track of steps, why wouldn’t I recommend dance choreography of some kind, or a dance class, which will include choreography of some kind? And if that person says, Oh, I’m not a dancer, I say exactly. But you would never say someone is a weak person, they just don’t do strength training. You’re not a clumsy person, you just don’t do neuromotor training. And so or at least enough of it in this way. And so but then if, if they’re like, I’m just not going to do it, I’m like, Cool. What about ping pong? Oh, I love ping pong. I haven’t played that in years. I used to play it. So we’re looking for that thing that sparks something. Now, not every single person will have that. But you’re gonna find something out of the long menu of every possible sport, every possible dance, every possible martial art and every possible mind body exercise, you will find something. For me, it was an active video game, because I didn’t play sports growing up. It’s only recently that I’ve really gotten into ping pong. So for me, it was that I used video games as my escape. Someone made a video game into an exercise thing. I’m like, yep, that’s something I would do. So everyone’s got these preferences. And within these preferences, are experiences and beliefs. And just kind of how we talked about behavior change, you got to have the same considerations there. You have to find something that you’d be open to and motivated to try. The health belief needs to be there that it can be helpful. And usually, not always. But usually, these neuromotor activities are very social. And so there’s external accountability built into that. Sometimes there’s a dark side, that’s error saying, yeah,

Michael Hughes 33:07
yeah. Because I mean, I can’t exercise on my own, I need a group to be around me. So I feel like I’m, you know, I, you know,

Ryan Glatt 33:18
externally accountable. You’re externally accountable. I don’t want to say people have a tight, but usually, there’s those people, there’s external accountability and internal accountability. And if you’re externally accountable, you usually need some external force, like a game, or a class or trainer, or something like that, to get you going, and that’s okay. A lot of people think that’s like, a component of their personality, like laziness, or, Oh, I’m just not motivated enough. And neither of those things can be true. And so I work with a lot of older adults and their spousal caregivers, like, Oh, he’s just lazy. He won’t do the treadmills like, No, he just needs external accountability, he has none. Right? And so incorporating that can help. And it’s not personal, like, part of the thing about health coaching is like, I’m not going to change you as a person. That’s what’s unique, I just need to understand you as a person well enough to give you something you’re gonna do, or more likely to do. And then with internal people who are more internally accountable. These are the people that are externally accountable people like you, and I probably hate that they just wake up at 4am every day and go running, and nobody tells them forever. And I’m just like, nope, not me. But that’s, that’s their thing. And sometimes I’ll give people the plan, I say, this is the plan. You need to have neuromotor training twice a week, and you need to add resistance training twice a week, and they’re like, Yes, sir. And then six months later, they’ve been doing it 100%. So everyone’s different. And there’s a lot of different health coaching variables to consider. But and human behavior can be complicated, but there’s definitely both internal and external accountability and If someone’s struggling to incorporate someone or like, just look at the accountability system, maybe it’s not the right accountability system, maybe it’s they’re, they’re shamed and punished every time they don’t do it. That’s not fun, right? That’s not fun, right? That’s just negative reinforcement. That’s, you know, yelling or hitting the dog when it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. So positive reinforcement, having the right accountability system, and really making sure that people are doing something that they’re interested in. And it doesn’t have to mean that they thoroughly enjoy it. Because if you’ve never played ping pong, and then I asked you, do you like ping pong? And you’re like, I’ve never played ping pong. They’re like, well, you should do something you like, well, then we’ve hit a roadblock, haven’t we? Because you don’t have any experience in that thing to know that you are what if you’ve gone to the gym? I’m telling you to go to the gym, and you’d had one negative experience at the gym. I said, Do you like the gym? And you’re like, Well, according to my experiences? No. It’s like, well, do we give up? Because you don’t like the gym? Or do we? You know, just like going into a different restaurant or the same restaurant ordering something different? Try again. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s often what needs to be talked about. And it’s just not.

Michael Hughes 36:07
Right, right. So just mark this down in a positive reinforcement with the right accountability system and doing something you enjoy. I think that’s terrific. Yeah. Right. I’m gonna move to the end of the podcast. But first of all, before we do that, can you tell people where they can find you?

Ryan Glatt 36:21
Yeah, so I don’t know if I’m listed in the local club books anymore. But I think that was a bad joke. I apologize. But couldn’t find me. If they Googled me, Ryan Glatt, they can usually find my profile on the Pacific Neuroscience Institute Foundation website. I also have, like I said, a course called the brain health trainer website, which is brain health. For those who are interested in professional education, I’m on LinkedIn, as well as social media. Awesome.

Michael Hughes 36:55
Brain Health, brain health and reading it down brain health Alright, so we always ask our guests three questions at the end of every podcast. One asked those questions of you. I think we did this in preparation for this all of us are your perceptions on aging. So would that be okay?

Ryan Glatt 37:12
Absolutely, yes.

Michael Hughes 37:15
Okay. Question number one. When you think about how you’ve aged, what do you think has changed about you that you really like about yourself?

Ryan Glatt 37:22
That’s an excellent question. Well, as I’ve aged, the thing that I’ve grown with, that I’ve started to really like about myself, is my passion for learning. And I found that as kind of something that’s not changed, if anything, it’s increased. But it’s also something that, like I can relate to, with my clients who are older adults themselves, is that there’s also a passion for learning. And when I see when I work with a 96 year old psychologist who’s retired with cognitive impairment, she has a passion for learning at that age. I’m just like, yep, this probably doesn’t go anywhere, that it won’t go away.

Michael Hughes 38:01
Kind of. Okay, question number two, what has surprised you the most about yourself as your age,

Ryan Glatt 38:08
my desire for simplicity, especially when it comes to health and well being? Having studied it for so long? I feel like in the beginning in the middle, it got really complicated and nuanced. And as things go on, it’s gotten a little bit more simple.

Michael Hughes 38:23
And question number three, is there some that you’ve somebody you’ve met or been in your life that has set a good example for you and aging you someone that inspired you to age abundantly?

Ryan Glatt 38:32
Yeah, I think my dad is certainly someone who tries to age abundantly in terms of staying active and his work, continuing learning his own health and his support for others around him. I think he’s a great example for that. And I love working with him. That is awesome.

Michael Hughes 38:49
All right. Look, I gotta thank you. I mean, you gave our listeners a lot to think about me a lot to think about. Thank you for taking the time to be on the podcast today. And thank you, our listeners for listening to this episode of The Art of aging, which is part of the abundant aging podcasters United Church homes, and we want to hear from you. What do you think about this idea of a brain gym? This idea of neuroplasticity, you know? This idea of dual tasking exercise, let us know abundant agent We’re also on YouTube under United Church homes, please go on there and subscribe. And you can also give us feedback for the Ruth Ross Parker center annual symposium in October, both in Columbus and online. This will be on top the topic of ending ageism. And Brian, we know brain health But once more where can people find

Ryan Glatt 39:37
Yeah, they can find me on Instagram at glatt.brainhealth or on LinkedIn under Ryan Glatt.

Michael Hughes 39:45
Perfect. All right. Thanks, Ryan. Thank you listeners. We’ll see you next time.