Lately there are a lot of impressive claims about the brain boosting powers of things like calisthenics, crosswords, and complicated software. Advancements in technology and neurosciences are fueling the phenomenon. We have better equipment for studying and measuring brain function and smart people devoting themselves to the research. Most of them admit that while we know a lot more than we did even a few years ago, what we know about the brain is still relatively little compared to what we don’t know.
Stanford Center for Longevity recently hosted a panel of 30 experts from the United States and Europe to explore what we know for sure about brain fitness. The group issued a report that pointed to three critical things that affect the brain: physical exercise, mental challenges and good health habits. Instead of handing us a magic bullet, we’re being told that the most important factors affecting brain health are also the ones that are important for a healthy lifestyle. The 5 best tips for a healthy brain are:
MOVE: The effectiveness of exercise has been proven in numerous studies. It increases heart rate and blood flow to the brain, which helps form new neural connections, strengthen existing ones, and improves focus, reasoning and memory.
Mayo Clinic Studies show that even small amounts of moderate regular (at least 30 minutes 3 times a week) can improve brain function and even slow decline. The activities that qualified for purposes of this research included brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, weight lifting, swimming, tennis (doubles), yoga, martial arts, golfing without a cart.
EAT WELL: What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fats. Control blood sugar levels, even if you are not a diabetic, by eating smaller meals more often throughout the day.
LEARN: When you’re already proficient at something the neurons that fire when you’re doing it are already strong. You can be a crossword puzzle ace, but still not be able to remember where you parked your car. The brain needs mental cross-training. Engaging in a wide range of activities will stimulate different brain activity.
HANG IN THERE: Normal age-related memory loss occurs slowly. Lifestyle changes won’t deliver dramatic changes overnight, but you will see subtle changes over time. The Mayo Clinic study participants showed improvement after six months.
SOCIALIZE: Relationships stimulate our brains. In a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline. Joining groups with similar interests or volunteering are also good.