I write about exercise almost daily and about the brain nearly as often, but I think they really need to be tied together for the best understanding. Also, because we all want to live past 100, we certainly want the old cabeza to fully functional.
WebMD has a nice 12 part slide show called Tips to stay smart, sharp and focused. If you want to experience the entire show, just click the link above. I am have picked out a few examples for the folks too
lazy busy to do the whole thing right now.
Number one is superb: USE YOUR BRAIN “It’s true: Use it or lose it. Stretching your brain keeps your mind sharp. People who are more active in mentally challenging activities are more likely to stay sharp. Try these:
• Read a book.
• Go to a lecture.
• Listen to the radio.
• Play a game.
• Visit a museum.
• Learn a second language.”
I must confess it is wonderful to see the words I have written so often – use it or lose it – as their theme. I always considered – use it or lose it – to refer solely to physical exercise, but clearly they work exactly the same for the brain.
Number two is also excellent: MIX THINGS UP “Remember trying to talk backwards as a child? Researchers at Duke University created exercises they call “neurobics,” which challenge your brain to think in new ways. Since your five senses are key to learning, use them to exercise your mind. If you’re right-handed, try using your left hand. Drive to work by another route. Close your eyes and see if you can recognize food by taste.”
I took a course about the brain several years ago and I remember that they spoke a lot about ‘new nearal pathways.’ I think Number two is exactly that. I know that when I ride my bike I always try to vary the route for that very reason.
I don’t want to spoil the fun of your viewing the entire slide show, so I will only offer one more example. Number 10 SLEEP AND THE BRAIN “Get enough sleep before and after you learn something new. You need sleep on both ends. When you start out tired, it’s hard to focus on things. And when you sleep afterward, your brain files away the new info so you can recall it later. A long night’s rest is best for memory and your mood. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night.”
I wanted to give you this sleep information because I think very few people appreciate how important sleep is in living a healthy life. I know that when I was in the working world, sleep often felt like forced downtime. But it is so much more than that. WebMD gives you some good reasons. If you want lots more, please checkout my Page How important is a good night’s sleep?.
Finally, I want to refer to one final Page I have written and referred to countless times. Please check out Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits).