We live in a busy ever-changing world and our minds are constantly filled with information from TV, Internet, Radio and printed publications. Having too much information could be seen as brain overload, causing people to shut off their brains to new knowledge. However, just like taking care of the rest of your body, the brain needs extra focus and attention. Science has concluded there are two main beneficial ways to improve your brain health in this Generation of Information.
The first is aerobic exercise, says Dr. Karen Li, head of Concordia University’s laboratory for adult development and cognitive aging. To perform at optimal levels, your brain needs nutrients and oxygen. By increasing your blood circulation and cardiovascular fitness, exercise nourishes your brain to run productively. Not only does aerobic exercise help you physically, but it mentally helps you with complex skills such as planning, thinking and problem solving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week.
Have you ever worked out and afterwards felt you were thinking more clearly? After exercise, there can be an improvement in memory, creative thinking or simply a feeling that you are ready to tackle work or your to-do list. The reason is because of the workout you just gave your brain.
The beauty of aerobic exercise is that many types qualify as long as you get your heart rate up and you sweat a bit. This includes everything from gardening, walking, biking, and swimming to running, dance and martial arts, or other activities you enjoy.
The second activity for brain health is mental stimulation. It is important to increase the challenge when coming up with creative ways to use your brain. This could mean trying a new recipe instead of making the same dish to keep your brain off of auto-pilot. It could mean learning about a new topic, staying socially active by visiting cultural venues or engaging in stimulating conversation.
There are many ways to keep your brain engaged. One example is when reading an article, start broad and work your way down to the minute details. Think about what you read, the main points and lessons you can take from it. You could go a step further and discuss the points with someone else.
Brain games target specific cognitive abilities that enable your brain to function at its best when combined with exercise. Word or Number Puzzles, Crosswords, Sudoku, and Cryptograms are just a few of the ways adults can help improve memory and keep their brains healthy. Not only are these types of games fun, but they help improve brain cognition and memory. In addition, you might have sharper focus, quicker reactions, faster thinking and better vision. Further, it can improve your mood, self-confidence and help you be a safer driver.
Keep in mind that you should be excited and passionate about the activities you choose. Your brain will sense the difference in something you are truly interested in as opposed to something you are doing only because you think it is good for you.
It is important for all adults to maintain and improve their brain health. So, tackle a new crossword puzzle, take a walk, play a game of chess, or attend a lecture or concert. Your brain will thank you for it.
“Your Journey. Our Passion.”
Brain Game Resources:
Heid, Markham, “You Asked: Do Brain Games Really Improve Memory?” Time Magazine, September 24, 2014.
“The Benefits of Brain Fitness,” BrainHQ.com.