So, does it really matter? YES!
If your brain isn’t functioning at its best, almost every aspect of your life feels it. As I realized after a brain injury, if your brain is just humming along doing what it’s supposed to, you take it completely for granted – until it no longer works right. Believe me, then you really notice.
Brain fitness needs to become a fashionable part of our culture just like physical fitness. With brain gyms and brain fitness classes popping up here and there, brain fitness is beginning to catch on slowly. However, it’s not necessary to go to a brain gym to keep your brain in shape. There’s plenty you can do on your own to keep your brain in top shape on your own.
Just as with your heart, breaking a sweat is about the best thing you can do for your brain. Exercise increases the oxygenated blood flow to the brain and promotes the birth of new neurons. A study at the University of Illinois found that simply taking three three vigorous, 40-minute walks per week over a six month period improved participants memory and reasoning.
Complex and diverse mental challenges are a big component of brain fitness. Doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku are good, but they aren’t enough because these activities ask a person to recall things they already know. The brain stays healthy by doing new things and being challenged.
You want to push your brain beyond its comfort zone by learning new skills, hobbies, or sports, continuing to educate your mind, putting yourself in new social situations, and traveling to new locations. Even simple things like taking a new route to a familiar place, sleeping on the different side of the bed, or brushing your teeth with your nondominant hand will give your brain a little workout.
Many companies are offering brain boosting products these days: Brain HQ, Luminosity, Advanced Brain Technologies, are recognized names in this field. You can find evidence both for and against brain training. I’m inclined to think that consistent brain training over time can produce positive, lasting results which are going to be different for each individual just like physical training.
From my own experience, I can tell you brain training products were an invaluable and amazing part of my recovery from a serious brain injury. I can’t say enough good things about Posit’s products. When completing their Brain Fitness Program software the first time, I more than doubled my mental processing speed. A faster brain meant huge cognitive improvements for me which made a big difference in my daily life. I also saw remarkable improvement with Advance Brain Technologies Brain Builder and The Listening Program.
Last, but not least on the brain fitness list is maintaining a brain healthy diet. Eating lots of greens, dark colored fruits, especially berries, and other vegetables provides the brain with antioxidants and the vitamins and minerals it needs. Including fish, nuts, and grass-fed meats regularly and often will give your brain the protein and good fats it requires to function optimally. Your brain is made up of around 70% fat and needs fat. Supplements can be helpful in ensuring your brain gets all the needed nutrients.
Water is very important for your brain to work properly and for your overall health. Your brain loves water. Water makes up 83% of your blood and is the transport system to the brain, making the needed deliveries of nutrients and taking away toxins.
Treat your brain right, and it will treat you right.
image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/theyogaconference/