Studies have shown that having a healthy mental workout regime on top of your normal active lifestyle and healthy diet contributes positively to the avoidance of dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life.
Regular exposure to stress can impact your brain’s health
The common misconception seems to be that to be ‘healthy’ all you need to do is eat well, deal well with stress and do a bit of exercise. This simply isn’t the case. Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to maintaining a positive feeling of wellbeing.
Studies have also found that aerobic exercise can help by acting as a ‘first aid kit’ on damaged brain cells.
It has also been shown that exercising in the morning before going to work can increase retention of new information later on in the day, and also help you to react better to complex situations.
Ensure you get enough sleep
Things like ensuring you get enough sleep and managing your stress levels contribute to your overall feeling of happiness, help maintain a healthy weight, and make you more mentally alert. Surprisingly, the more physically active you are, the more your brain will benefit (by way of increasing your memory capacity, and improving your aptitude to learn new things).
Studies show that getting enough sleep can help improve your learning capabilities.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep can also help you “pay attention, make decisions, and be creative”.
Physical exercise can help to train your brain
That said, to keep your brain operating at an optimum level, new challenging stimulation is required, particularly later in life. There are many ways to do this and stay active, so find one or two you like, and practice them religiously. You could practice memorization, play strategy games, train yourself to observe the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, and why), or simply focus on smaller changes and challenges, like taking a new route to work, or making a conscious effort to vary your habits.
Brain exercises to improve your cognitive skills
Changes to your lifestyle such as those listed are proven to work, but arguably the easiest and most fun way to keep your mind positively active is to learn something new. Try learning a new language, or simply read a good newspaper or challenging book. The greater the novelty and challenge, the more mentally sharp you can be! You could also try using your non-dominant hand from time to time or learning a new musical instrument.
AND ANOTHER THING…
Reading regularly, in my humble opinion at least, heralds more than just a boost to the brain. The entertainment value from a good quality newspaper or book makes your ‘brain workout’ an enjoyable experience rather than a chore. You’ll broaden your knowledge, sometimes with regard to the most trivial of topics. To get you started, be sure to memorise these obscure, unusual and some would say pointless definitions:
Googleganger – The person who shows up as the top result when you Google yourself
Griffonage – Illegible handwriting
Zugzwang – Positions in chess or connect 4 where all moves result in defeat
Philtrum – The bit of skin above your top lip, under your nose
Rhinotillexomania - Excessive nose picking
Punt – The indent at the bottom of a bottle of wine
Zarf – The cardboard part that goes round a disposable coffee cup
Glabella – The skin between your eyebrows
Now you know how to improve your brain’s health, find out more information on how to take care of your eyes and protect your eyesight by following our simple tips