Your brain is the computer for your body; and just like computers, brains require proper maintenance, care and attention in order for them to operate at their full potential. We’ll look at some exercises and training tips you can incorporate into your daily life to help boost your brain health.
Working out—running a 5k, bench pressing, curling, doing dead lifts, squats, yoga or swimming—all of these brain exercises have elements that build muscular or cardiovascular strength and endurance. Building muscles works by challenging them, by forcing them to exert themselves and to rebuild; muscle confusion, muscle endurance, interval training, all of these things bring different challenges to the body, and your body becomes the better for it: stronger, faster, more coordinated. Well the same can be applied to your brain, challenging it in order to make it stronger, faster, and more coordinated—generally referred to as smarter or healthier. But unlike exercising, you won’t need an expensive membership to train your brain.
Games are a fantastic way to challenge your brain and keep it sharp and limber. While there’s still mental processing involved in some of the more popular and entertaining games out there, such as Gears of War, Halo or Call of Duty, incorporating strategy, dexterity, timing, etc., there are many better games out there for your brain health. Logic based games—whether numerical, linguistic, spatial or otherwise—are fantastic ways to challenge your brain and boost its cognitive processing. Games like crossword puzzles, jumbles, Sudokus, Words with Friends, are great for improving memory, problem solving skills, vocabularies and even just your cognitive processing speed—all aspects that, when healthy, make for a very formidable brain.
Lumosity is a website that offers games specifically designed for your brain. Not only are they specifically designed for your brain, but they’re even specifically designed to address certain aspects of your brain. Lumosity’s aim is to help boost your memory, creativity and attention by targeting your brain’s speed, problem solving, flexibility, memory, and attention.
Another great web service for the brain is StumbleUpon. Not a game exactly, though some might come up, StumbleUpon is a service that randomly connects you to webpage’s it believes you will like. You select your interests and StumbleUpon pulls up blogs, photos, games, etc. based on those parameters—many with a bend towards the educational or that promote brain health.
Teaching can be another great exercise for your brain and one that helps organize your memories. By trying to impart what you know about a subject your brain helps commit that
information to long term memory; a great study tool but one that can extend outside scholastic endeavors such as with your job.
Creative expression is a fantastic way to help boost brain health. By being creative you’re collating all of the functions of your brain into one effort. Music, painting, storytelling, sculpting—just to name a couple—use both sides of your brain, incorporating math, physics, coordination, balance, timing, memory, space…just about any aspect of the brain you could think of is represented in creating. If games like Sudoku and scrabble are the equivalent of training, creating is the big game; allowing you to put all of the skills you’ve been developing and sharpening to use.
Your physiology plays a very big part of your brain’s health. A healthy body generally produces a healthy brain; you’re not likely to a healthy brain in an unhealthy body. Just like the computer, your brain needs proper rest and proper fuel to function at its best. Sleep is a very integral part of your brain health as it’s uses the dormancy to accomplish all the tasks that it couldn’t while you were awake: releasing the hormones the body needs for growth and maintenance; collating and processing the information you acquired that day into memory. Your learning ability, capacity and performance all greatly increase as the quality of your sleep increases. This is to say the quality and not the quantity of your sleep. The average person needs about 6-8 hours of sleep per night, but that sleep should be productive. Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other drugs result in very poor sleep; instead of going through your brain’s normal sleeping processes, it’s spend oxidizing and processing these substances, putting your body and brain to work instead of to rest.
Similarly, your diet can play a big part in your brain’s health. Fatty or greasy foods weigh your body down, raise your blood pressure and supply poor oxygen levels for your blood—which impairs memory, mood and cognition. The results are lower-performance in all of your internal systems and can often lead to poor mental health like depression. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can boost your brain power and help fight against risks of Alzheimer’s and dementia; fresh fruits and vegetables have an abundance of anti-oxidants which help the brain function. When paired with proper physical exercise, eating right and sleeping right will become some of your best allies for a healthier brain.
Meditation and laughing have also been found to greatly improve on the brain’s health. Meditation allows us to open, relax and expand our minds, de-cluttering them and making them clearer to understand and operate. Laughing has a similar effect, and in some places around the globe, like India and Thailand, you can even find meditative laughing exercises done by large groups of people.
Remember, the brain is a machine like anything else, in order to get the best performance possible it needs the best operating conditions, good fuel, proper maintenance and a good challenge. But unlike most other machines, you can make it so your brain actually operates better with age.
Author Bio: Steven blogs about health and brain health topics for anatomynow. Steven enjoys writing about brain exercises and other wellness topics that can help improve people’s live.