#FitnessFriday: Exercise Your Brain

Brain Fitness

Do you ever have those moments when you are in the middle of a story, and you suddenly forget what you were saying? Have you ever looked for your keys, but they are in your hands? Put the ice cream in the fridge instead of the freezer, only to find it melted an hour later? While it is normal to have these moments on occasion, it does make us wonder if our memory is slipping, or if we simply have too much on our mind and aren’t paying attention.  

Want to test your brainpower out and see how you measure up? Take this quick test to see how well your mind can process various types of information to give you a little insight into your brain “fitness” and memory.  

 

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Below are are some tips to exercise your mind and help you stay sharp for the long haul!

 

Eat dark chocolate

This bitter deliciousness contains flavanols, brain-boosting antioxidant compounds that are also found in red wine and berries. Look for at least 70 % cocoa and no added sugar/flavoring.

 

Memorize a song

Developing better habits of careful listening will help you focus by releasing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a brain chemical that enables plasticity and vivifies memory.

 

Exercise your peripheral vision

Sit outside, like on a park bench or a cafe patio. Stare straight ahead, and concentrate on everything you can see without moving your eyes, including in your peripheral vision. When you have finished, write a list of everything you saw. Then, try again, and see if you can add to your list.  Why? Scientists have shown that the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, crucial to focus and memory, falls off with memory loss and is nearly absent in Alzheimer’s patients. This activity should help you reinvigorate the controlled release of acetylcholine in your brain.

 

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

Aside from the physical benefits of regular exercise (improved blood pressure, blood sugar, body composition), it has also been shown to improve feelings of depression, anxiety, positive self-image, AND benefit your hippocampus (an area of the brain involved in memory and learning)

Learn to play a new instrument

Getting musical exercises various dimensions of brain function, including listening, control of refined movements, and translation of written notes (sight) to music (movement and sound).

 

Do a jigsaw puzzle

Make sure to choose a 500-piece minimum! This will require fine visual judgment, mentally “rotating” the pieces, manipulating them in your hands, and shifting your attention from the small piece to the “big picture”.

 

Fill up with fish

Research has shown that consuming fatty (specifically Omega-3 fatty acids) fish  like sardines, anchovies, salmon, and trout are the most beneficial for improving cognitive (brain) function.

 

 

 

Next time you work out, don’t forget about your brain!

 

 

 

– LAUREN ORMSBEE, CHC, CEP

Email Lauren

 

 

 

 

Resources:

  1. http://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/everyday-brain-fitness
  2. Rutgers University brain health assessment; taken from www.bebrainfit.com
  3. www.AARP.org