Take the Hello Brain Challenge. Top Tips for Brain Health
Take the Hello Brain Challenge
We all brush our teeth everyday but most of us never spare a thought for our brains. Did you know that activity, attitude and simple lifestyle changes can boost your brain health and may even act as a buffer against decline in brain function?
Take the Hello Brain challenge – do one thing every day that’s good for your brain. Read More here…
Get physically active.
Tone up: Increasingly scientists have realised that being physically active is like drinking a tonic for your brain. When you start exercising, blood rushes around your body, including your brain. Never one to miss an opportunity, your brain takes advantage of this added oxygen and nutrients and refreshes itself, building new neurons and connections. This builds your brain reserves, backup funds for a rainy day, such as when damage occurs. Exercising three times per week was linked with a whopping 38% reduced risk of developing dementia over a 6 year period, in a study of over 65s. Another investigation found that physical activity in older adults with known cognitive impairment reduced the risk of dementia by 28% and AD by 45%. If a little pill could do this, it would fly off the shelves.
But be aware that these results are from a small number of studies and more research is needed so we can’t say for sure that physical exercise will prevent dementia in any one person; however it makes perfect sense to take this approach until we have more evidence.
Stay socially engaged
Social butterflies: For many people, interacting with other people gives great sustenance in terms of brain health. We are a highly social species, but you don’t have to be a social butterfly to siphon off the rewards. Joining a book club, a community group, a choir or a sports team are all ways of upping your game if you find it difficult to raise your share of social interaction. Or you could decide to have a regular coffee morning with a friend. It turns out that social interaction is like a pungent fertiliser to your brain. It will stimulate your brain cells to grow new connections and strengthens those already formed. New cells also spring to life in key memory areas of the brain, something that will stand to you. Why not arrange a regular time to meet with friends and go to a play or watch a film together? Challenge your brain
Younger you: Mental stimulation is the secret ingredient to staying young in mind. This involves challenging your brain, getting it to jump those mental hurdles it might shy away from. If, for example, you like to do the easy level of Sudoko or the simplex crossword, move over to the harder levels and get your brain to sweat a little. Stretching your brain in this way will improve your mental sharpness and it might fight off some of the negative effects that ageing has on your brain, helping you stay brain fit as you age. But the key to any new challenge is to make sure it is still a fun and enjoyable experience; so don’t push the dial too far into the red and get stressed. Your brain won’t thank you for that.
Novelty: Don’t be stuck in a rut and always do the same things. If you take the easy road all the time, your brain will not bother saving itself for challenges that may lie ahead. Try and learn a new skill or hobby. You could learn a new language, develop computer skills to wow family members or join a new class. Visit new places, go to a museum you never visited or meet new people. Anything new that you learn helps to bolster brain connections and also lays down new tracks in your brain building your reserve. This enriches your brain network and opens up new routes that your brain might welcome if it ever needs to bypass blockages or go around damaged circuits.
Change your attitude: manage stress, think young, think positive
Chill out and get out: People who are relaxed and outgoing have a lower risk of dementia, according to a study in Sweden in 2009. The research at the Karolinksa Institute in Stockholm, looked at more than 500 people who at the start of the study were no younger than 78 and who did have dementia.
The scientists asked the participants about their lifestyle and personality traits and then followed up with the group over the course of six years. During that time, 144 people developed dementia and by matching the questionnaires with the outcomes, the scientists saw that being relaxed and being socially active were both linked with a reduced risk of developing the symptoms of dementia. You can read more about this study here.
Rein in stress hounds: Learning to keep stress on a short leash will benefit your physical health but also your brain fitness and overall memory performance. It is worth remembering that a certain amount of stress is a normal part of everyone’s day and in small doses it can be good for us, by motivating us to do better. Thankfully, there are ways for us to cope better when faced with strong stressors.
Exercise can smoothen down the wrinkles of stress by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural happy chemicals. It is also a refreshing way to release pent up energy that stress can bundle up. Often our minds can be mobbed by worries and we can find it difficult to focus on the task at hand. By focusing on the present moment, concentrating on what is taking place right here, right now, we can shrug off such worries. It may sound simple, but it can take a bit of getting used to. Rooting awareness in the body, such as feeling the soles of your feet while walking, or focusing on breathing in and out, can tie you closer to the present moment, stopping the mind from wandering.