Health and fitness isn’t just physical. As much as we should be striving to keep our bodies healthy and active, we need to make sure we are exercising our brains too. Making sure our brains stay active is the best way to ensure we have a healthy brain.
When we think about our health and fitness we tend to focus on our heart, muscles, and bones, and what we need to do to keep them healthy. One important muscle we sometimes forget is our brain. It’s just as important to make sure we are exercising our bodies as well as our brain.
Keeping your mind busy and healthy is easier then you think. When you are working out physically you’re challenging your muscles and your mind. Playing mind games that encourage you to think is another technique you can use to keep your mind busy. Do you have a class in mind you always wanted to take? Maybe a new skill you want to learn? Take the time to learn something new! This is another excellent way to keep a healthy brain.
What Happens When Our Brains Aren’t Exercised
Memory loss and loss of mental sharpness is often associated with ageing but it is not a natural part of ageing. It is a result of not staying mentally active. You know that old saying, “use it or lose it”? It definitely applies here!
Keeping your mind active and challenged is very important if you don’t want your healthy brain to decline. When our brains are not exercised and used regularly, we end up losing cognitive functions.
“Cognitive functions are mental processes that allow us to carry out any task. They allow the subject to have an active role in the processes of receiving, choosing, transforming, storing, processing and retrieval of information, allowing the subject to navigate the world around him.”
Keeping your brain active, even at an older age, doesn’t have to be incredibly daunting or time consuming either. A simple word game, conversation, hobby, etc, can all play a role in keeping your mind sharp.
Keep Your Mind Active With Apps
There are tons of apps you can get right on your phone that are great for keeping your mind active. There are word games and puzzle games that challenge your brain. I know, I know… Staring at your phone seems counter-productive and is often frowned upon, but a few minutes a day playing a game that engages your brain is really beneficial!
There are tons of games like crosswords, word searches, sudoku, word games, strategy games, puzzles, etc. Any one of these games can help keep your mind sharp.
Play whatever you want; crossword puzzles, Sudoku, checkers, chess, board games with the family, etc. Whatever you can challenge your mind to do. Games force you to look at things from a different perspective and that is a brain-building activity.
Use Hobbies to Engage Your Brain
Taking up a hobby you enjoy really helps your mind stay sharp. Whether it’s gardening, woodworking, writing, or crafting, it will engage your brain and help hone it’s creative skills. Hobbies are also a great way to de-stress and keep your mind healthy.
For example, Scrapbooking will challenge your mind to think creatively and it will reinforce memory skills. Scrapbooking keeps your brain interested and focused for an extended period of time.
Reading is another hobby that is probably pretty obvious in it’s benefits. Reading helps your mind stay literate and expands your vocabulary. It also helps the brain keep it’s imagination alive when you are reading and picturing the worlds and characters in your head.
Socialize More to Keep a Healthy Brain
Making sure you get out and socialize with people is another important way to keep a healthy brain. Staying social and spending time with people can help prevent memory loss. Engaging in discussions that are interesting and stimulating are pillars of a healthy brain.
Staying social has also been shown to decrease the rate of dementia and help regulate blood pressure.
Socializing is fun and a great mental activity. When we get older sometimes we lose track of friends and family. Make it a point to reach out to them and connect. If you can’t find anyone to meet with you, try looking for a club or community group to join. This is a great way to meet new people and interact socially. Experts actually recommended social engagement at least once per week.
Staying Physically Active
When we regularly exercise, the brain releases endorphins that make us happy. This helps keep us in good spirits, and keep our brain happy. Regular exercise also helps us sleep better, and while we sleep, our brain gets the rest it needs to function daily. Exercising regularly also helps our brain focus on work and day to day tasks.
Studies have also shown that when we exercise it encourages the development of new nerve cells and helps make connections between brain cells. This helps our brains stay efficient.
Regular exercise also helps reduce cholesterol, balance blood sugar, and reduce stress. These are things that all directly effect our brains.
Exercising works out your body and challenges your brain. Things like pilates and yoga are easy on the body but require a lot of mental focus. Even going for a walk or a low-impact fitness class is a great workout for your brain.
A Healthy Brain Means a Healthy Body
Taking care of your brain is an important part of your health and fitness. Challenging your brain with some of the ideas I mentioned above will keep your mind active and healthy. A healthy brain and mind will translate to all aspects of your life. It makes your work life or school life easier, makes it easier to do the hobbies you love, and impacts all day to day activities.
If your brain isn’t healthy, your body isn’t healthy.