So you have a gym membership — now what? If you feel like a pro on the elliptical but you’re not confident about resistance training (exercises where you work against...
While you might not be concerned about brain health at this point in your life, by being proactive now, you can boost your brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the future. Here are some healthy lifestyle habits you can adopt to help your brain stay in tip-top shape:
- Exercise regularly: Incorporating just 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine increases blood flow to your brain and helps prevent a decline in synaptic connections that naturally occurs with age. Better yet, activities that require hand-eye coordination, like dancing, exercise multiple parts of the brain.
- Learn a new skill: Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs a workout. Whether it’s painting, doing a jigsaw puzzle, or picking up the guitar, being mentally active stimulates new nerve cell connections and promotes neuroplasticity (the ability of the nervous system to adapt to internal/external stimuli).
- Get plenty of Zzzs: When you sleep, your body removes toxins from the brain and consolidates memories. So make sure to get at least seven to nine consecutive hours of sleep per night for your brain to function most effectively.
- De-stress: Over time, chronic stress can impair the prefrontal cortex and shrink certain regions of the brain. By engaging in stress-reducing exercises, like yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature, you can relieve tension and calm your body and mind.
- Be social: When you socialize, your brain is at work as you communicate with others, respond to their emotions, and gain new perspectives. Make it a point to connect with friends and family on a regular basis — especially if you live by yourself — and consider joining a club, community event, or volunteering.
- Stay hydrated: Water flushes toxins from the body and regulates brain temperature. And while eight glasses of water a day is often recommended, the right amount really depends on many things, including your age, gender, activity level, and where you live.
- Eat right: Make sure to eat a diet rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, and filled with plenty of fruits, veggies, fish, and healthy fats:
- The omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish, like mackerel, salmon, and herring, help you maintain cognitive function by supporting blood flow to the brain.
- Cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, broccoli, and dark leafy greens, can improve your memory and lower the risk of brain disease.
- The amino acids in proteins increase the production of neurotransmitters that keep you mentally alert.
- Antioxidant-rich foods, like blueberries, artichokes, dark chocolate, and kale, help protect against free radical damage to the brain cells.
- Fat and choline in whole eggs can reduce inflammation and boost your entire nervous system.
- Olive oil helps improve your memory and prevent cognitive decline. Use it in your dressing, as a bread dip, or drizzle it on your salmon.
By incorporating these easy lifestyle habits into your routine, you’ll enhance your brain health and boost your overall well-being.