Friday, January 16, 2009

Your Brain on Fitness!

Ever misplace your car keys somewhere, forget an old friends name when it comes time to introduce them, even though you’ve known them for years, or even better, ever put something in that special place so you’ll always know where it is... only to not be able to find it when you need it? I know you’ve all been there at least once or twice in your life and you’re not even old yet! Well if you want to live with an active brain when you do get older, you’re going to have to keep your brain healthy with exercise now. That’s right... Fitness for your brain!

Did you know that eating healthy is not only good for your body but it’s also important to keep your brain healthy and sharp too? Include lots of colorful fruits and vegetables that are packed with antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. They’re low in fat and generally low in calories too. You should also include foods rich in Omege-3 Fatty acids like Almonds, Walnuts, Wild Salmon, Tuna and Sardines. Omega-3‘s are important to maintain your brain function and they may help to protect your brain from aging as well.

Studies have also shown that if you include a few simple and fun exercises into your daily routine you’ll boost your brain power enormously and maintain your mental sharpness. Why not try a few of these to smarten up and exercise that muscle between your ears!

Exercise & Yoga - Studies have shown that exercise improves your memory and concentration and may even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. It increases blood flow to the brain and nourishes your brain cells allowing them to function more effectively and it also promotes the growth of new brain cells. Yoga has been known to affect mood and boost brain power.

Dancing – Why not try Ballroom dancing or learn that Salsa move you’ve always wanted to figure out. Learning new moves activates the brain motor center that develops new neural connections. It also calms the brain’s stress response.

Walking – Walk your dog or walk yourself! Walking 20 minutes a day can reduce your blood sugar and improve blood flow to your brain to help you think more clearly.

Sleeping – It isn’t a Luxury... it’s a "Must Have"! Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night and even take in a catnap later in the day. It develops proteins and other brain-boosting components. Sleeps boost to concentration and memory happens in the first 30 minutes so even that little half hour afternoon snooze will benefit your brain!

Play Video Games - Video games such as Wii or Nintendo DS offer Brain Teasers that force you to learn the games interface and stimulates your response to time and memory.

Look Around – I mean really look! While walking down the street, stare straight ahead and try to make out what’s in your peripheral vision. Also, try scanning your eyes to the left and right. This will activate parts of your brain that you rarely use which will stimulate brain cell growth.

Keep a Calendar in Every Room – Looking at your calendars will keep you focused and will help you to create a mental picture of the day in your head.

Drink a glass of Red Wine a day – It has powerful antioxidants that prevent free radicals from killing your brain cells. But no more than two glasses for women and three glasses for men or you’ll reduce that brain boosting nutrient Thiamine!

Socialize - Stay socially connected by getting together with friends and family. Studies have shown that people with active social lives have a reduced risk of developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s. The more activities and contact we have with others, the more it will increase our mental sharpness… and it’s also a fantastic brain exercise.

Read the Newspaper – It will not only keep you current on what’s going on in the world around you, it’ll activate multiple parts of your brain that encourage cell growth. It will also give you something to talk about when socializing with your friends and family.

Play Board Games – Playing games like Yahtzee, Pictionary, Scrabble or Boggle or any game similar to these will lower your risk of developing Dementia by activating spatial, strategic, and memory parts of your brain... and it encourages you to socialize!

Make Crosswords or Logic Puzzles – They stimulate your brain by challenging your mind and memory, contributing to better brain function.

Listen to Your Favorite Music – Music improves your focus and feeling of well being. It also reduces stress hormones that inhibit memory.

Have Sex – No explanation needed! Just kidding! It actually improves your sense of smell! Having regular and enthusiastic sex, even just a few times a week, increases the production of the Prolactin hormone, which in turn causes stem cells in the brain to develop new neurons in the brain’s smell center. And you thought sex was just for fun!

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