Mental Health Matters: 4 Things You Can Do to Give Your Brain a Workout
Aging can do a number on a person’s body, causing more than just a disturbance in one’s looks. Though progressive aging often leads to cognitive delays and dysfunction, more significant problems are generally influenced by an underlying medical condition.
This has been termed “cognitive impairment by the medical field. This term encompasses difficulties with thinking, memory, and concentration. The most easily recognized conditions are Alzheimer’s and dementia. Research has found that diet is extremely important in protecting cognitive function, but those with a poor diet may be able to try cocoa flavanol supplements for healthier brain functioning. However, stimulating the brain can also reduce cognitive impairment.
To boost your mental health, here are 4 things you can do to give your brain a workout:
Brain Boot Camp
Just like the fitness gurus and enthusiasts who join a boot camp for a crash course in rigorous exercise and training, your brain needs the ability to learn, explore, and practice new things on a daily basis to give it a full workout. The two major parts of the brain, the cerebrum and cerebellum, control different areas of your body’s emotions, activities, and responses. Unless you pay attention to each area, through a three-dimensional engagement, you will cripple one while strengthening the other.
One misnomer is that playing brain games on your mobile device or tablet will develop cognitive health. While helpful, the reality is that this only increases your sedentary activity levels, which could have an equally significant impact on your overall health.
Your brain needs oxygen to function at full capacity, and it gets its supply from strong blood flow. Exercise and activity create this rush of blood, meaning a physical boot camp is probably more effective and giving the brain what it needs than a digital boot camp.
To enhance your cognitive abilities or reduce the rate of neuron degeneration, physical activity is one of the most highly recommended solutions for better brain health. Research has found that certain hormones released during exercise have a positive effect on memory function.
Endurance exercises also release a specific molecule known to protect against brain degeneration. This molecule, called irisin, has neuroprotective effects, a crucial component in fighting aging conditions of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Watching television or taking in the latest releases can entertain a person, but it doesn’t do much to stimulate better brain health. By getting involved in opportunities that promote creativity and foster curiosity, your brain is more likely to sustain heightened cognitive performance.
Taking a musical hobby and learning an instrument has been found to increase brain volume and strengthen the communication synapses between the different regions of the brain. Actively participating in a new experience alters how the brain will interpret and integrate information, developing new memories and preserving old ones. Though reading may be a sedentary bodily activity, it entertains and improves brain function.
Giving your brain a workout means you also need to give your brain a rest. In addition to getting adequate and restful sleep each night, you need to allow your brain to power down and refocus at times.
Meditation is used as a stress reduction practice but it impacts how well the brain can regulate emotions, memory, and learning. Though mediation is a calming, focus technique, the practice stimulates the hippocampus, which is known to atrophy as individuals develop cognitive impairment. Meditation can protect the cognitive reserve.
Rather than sit in front of the television to rest your brain, take up yoga or mindfulness mediation to allow your brain to recharge and strengthen itself.
Giving your aging muscles a workout can prevent atrophy and improve coordination, but if you forget your brain in your workout routine, you are sabotaging your long-term progress. Get up and get active, finding ways to include brain training that doesn’t rely on tablet apps or mindless entertainment.
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