One positive side of aging nowadays is that life expectancy has increased quite a bit. Having said that, we want that extended life to be lived in the healthiest way possible. Not only do we want a body that is healthy and mobile, but we also want a healthy brain.
“As we age, we are equally concerned in maintaining healthy brains. It turns out that exercise plays a major role in sustaining and building neurons and synapses. Not all exercise has the ability to rebuild neurons. We have to do specific brain-challenging movements as we exercise to keep the brain sharp and prevent decline.” – Miranda Esmonde-White,
Neuroplasticity - is your brain’s ability to adapt to change. The “use it or lose it” applies also to our brain functions. Physical exercise triggers the creation of new neural pathways (connections) our brain, prevents loss of used pathways, and reopens old ones.
By combining complex movements and visualization, we deliberately stimulate the brain to keep it sharp as we age. Don’t worry, these “complex movements” are not actually difficult movements to do. What we are talking about here are full body movements that mirror every day life.
A program with full body movements (*cough* like Essentrics *cough*) not only impact our cardiorespiratory system, muscular strength and motor ability… it also impacts the brain’s ability to do mental functions like memorizing and problem solving.
Simple tips for a healthy brain.
As we get older, our brain needs more activity to stay young. All we have to do are simple tweaks to our daily lives to help keep or brain sharp and fit for years to come. Here are a few simple things you can do.
Sit up straight.
This will allow room for your lungs to take in oxygen, which in turn reduces anxiety, betters your mood, and sharpens your brain focus.
Listen to music you enjoy
Music affects our mood, our learning, and our energy level. Here is an interesting article posted by the University of Central Florida. According to UCF, music can do many things (see below)
CHANGE YOUR ABILITY TO PRECEIVE TIME
TAP INTO PRIMAL FEAR
MAKE YOU A BETTER COMMUNICATOR
MAKE YOU STRONGER
BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
ASSIST IN REPAIRING BRAIN DAMAGE
MAKE YOU SMARTER
HELP PARKINSON’S PATIENTS
Read a good book
We don’t realize it but reading is a complex activity that lights up several brain processes at an amazing speed. We we are reading, we are thinking focusing and analyzing. Reading fiction may be even better as it is believed to enhance communication between separate brain regions (brain connectivity) and function (eg: processing sensory information. regulating blood pressure and breathing).
Yep… there is such a thing as brain nutrition. The following foods are linked to an increase in blood flow in the brain, as is exercise.
Omega 3 fatty acid
Fatty fish like wild salmon and sardines
Dark chocolate (oh yeah!)
What are the take-aways from this post?
These are but a few simple ways to keep your brain healthy. Keep challenging your brain through full body movement, reading and learning. Stay curious about things and ask questions. Challenge your brain by solving crossword puzzles, learning a new skill or a new language. Play games with your friends and socialize.
Yours in health ~ Nancy Shimmy