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 are usually tired we tend to zone out in front of the TV.
It is 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 must do the same for your brain. This does not 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.
Today is Part 1 of 2 of our Brain Health blog as we cover exercise and eating healthy.
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 activities 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. When you walk it increases your heart rate and causes you to breathe deeper, which improves oxygen flow to the brain.
- Aerobics: Aerobic exercise can improve a person’s cognitive function and can also boost cardiovascular health. Some great aerobic exercises include cycling or swimming.
- Weight Training: 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.
The brain uses 20 percent 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.
- Berries: Studies show 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.
- Nuts: 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.
- Vegetables: 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.
Your brain is powerful. But just like any other muscle in your body, if you don’t stimulate it, it’ll deteriorate. Stay active, stay healthy and improve your brain health and stay mentally sharp at any age.
Join us next week for Part 2 of Brain Health as we cover managing stress and brain games.