A lot of times our brain can go on autopilot. As creatures of habit, we tend to complete the same routine on a daily basis–get up, get dressed, go to work. Then, by the time we get home, we’re usually tired we tend to zone out in front of the TV.
It’s important to keep your mind active because a well-stimulated brain not only improves your mood, but it also keeps you healthy and can reduce your risk for cognitive disorders.
Just like you keep your body healthy and active, you have to do the same for your brain. This doesn’t mean you have to do something drastic like learn a foreign language, but you should focus on a few small things you can practice regularly.
Improving your brain health doesn’t have to be complicated, there are a few easy things you can work into your daily routine to keep your brain sharp.
Physical activity is important for a healthy lifestyle and exercise not only helps you physically, but it also improves your brain health at the same time. When you exercise regularly, it not only reduces your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but it also can slow aging by 10 years.
Exercise is good for the brain because it increases blood flow, which is important because it provides oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Fitness also releases feel-good endorphins and can help create new brain cells, slowing down cognitive decline.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Here are some specific workouts you can do to fuel your brain.
Walk or Run
Walking or taking a daily run is an easy way to incorporate physical activity into your day, that won’t take up a lot of time and doesn’t need any equipment.
Just by taking a daily walk you can improve your brain health because when you walk it increases your heart rate and causes you to breathe deeper, which improves oxygen flow to the brain.
Aerobics is a type of workout that will increase your heart rate, but not immediately give you shortness of breath so you can perform the activity for a longer period of time. Some great aerobic exercises include cycling or swimming.
Strength training can help both your body and your brain, and research suggests that it can also enhance a person’s executive function and memory. Combining weight training activities with some aerobic exercises can round out your fitness routine and help you stay healthy.
2. Eat Healthy
According to Medical News Today, the brain uses 20% of the body’s calories, so not only do you need to fuel your body, but you also need to fuel your brain. Certain nutrients in different foods can increase brain power by improving cognition and memory.
Eating healthy is an easy way to improve brain health by incorporating nutrient-filled foods into your daily meals. There are a few main food groups that are a great part of a brain-boosting diet.
According to Science Daily, studies show that eating blueberries, strawberries, and other types of fruit can help prevent age-related memory loss. This is because berries contain high levels of antioxidants that protect cells from damage and they also prevent inflammation and they improve mental cognition.
When it comes to brain health, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts have been shown to be preventive against memory loss.
Nuts support a healthy nervous system and can protect against cognitive decline and walnuts specifically also have a high concentration of DHA, which improves cognitive performance.
Specifically, leafy green vegetables like spinach are nutrient dense and research suggests plant-based foods may help prevent cognitive decline.
Vegetables like kale and broccoli are also rich in magnesium, which helps dilate blood vessels–increasing blood flow to the brain. Foods like these are full of nutrients and antioxidants that strengthen the brain.
3. Manage Stress
An important way to improve your brain health is by managing your daily stress by regularly practicing stress-relieving activities. Stress can interfere with cognition, attention, and memory–making you more frantic and forgetful.
Stress not only affects you mentally, but it can also have many physical effects that negatively impact your brain and can cause health problems like heart disease and other cognitive diseases. Keeping your stress in check not only helps your brain, but it will improve your overall health.
Practicing meditation allows you to clear your mind of the daily clutter that consumes it. Regular meditation sessions can increase your concentration and attention, while also relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study from UCLA also found that long-term meditation can preserve brains as they age.
When you sleep, it gives your body and mind a chance to recharge. As you sleep, your brain cleans toxins that build up while you’re awake so that you can wake up with a clear mind. Getting a good night’s rest is vital to brain health and an adult should be getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Find a Hobby
Picking up a hobby can be great for your brain. You can either learn something new or enhance a skill you already know. Working on a hobby will give your brain something to focus on while learning a new set of skills, it can be challenging or even relaxing.
4. Playing brain games
A great and fun way to improve your mental functions is by playing a variety of brain games. Training your brain can help increase memory, response time, and also improve logic skills. Brain games are not only helpful for your brain, but they can also be fun.
Playing brain games will increase your mental strength by stimulating your brain with new problems to solve that require a tactful response.
Completing a puzzle can increase the connections between brain cells and help increase short-term memory. Puzzles work both the logical left side of the brain and also the right creative side resulting in a full brain workout.
Working on a crossword can improve mental cognition and also work on your spelling skills. Crosswords are a classic brain game that can be done online or on paper, and if you’re feeling brave using a pen.
This game is a number placement game that relies on memory and can be played either on paper or online. Sudoku is great stimulation for the brain and can also be a relaxing activity to help unwind.
Get Serious About Your Brain Health
Your brain is powerful. But just like any other muscle in your body, if you don’t stimulate it, it’ll deteriorate. Use these four activities to improve your brain health and stay mentally sharp at any age!