Monday, February 8, 2021

Exercising The Brain.

It seems to me that so many articles discuss exercising in terms of the body.  They say why you should exercise the body, gives lots of benefits but seldom do you see anything on exercising the brain. Even many of the public service announcements focus on the body but not on the brain.

Fortunately, when you exercise your body, you are providing benefits to the brain in the form of cognitive fitness.  Cognitive fitness refers to the brain's alertness or a better ability to reason, learn, plan, remember, and adapt.  It's been shown that physical exercise can help brain health even if a person has Alzheimer's or Dementia.  Furthermore, regular exercise can help stave off Alzheimers and Dementia.

Physical exercise can improve blood flow to the brain giving it more oxygen, reduce inflammation, and lowers levels of stress hormones while causing the release of hormones designed to help brain cells grow. In addition, exercising can cause the thickness of the cerebral cortex to increase which improves your white matter, helps connect the areas of grey matter better, and helps the brain create new connections.  

It is also recommended one exercise the brain itself by participating in mentally stimulating activities to build cognitive reserves, and help improve your brain before any symptoms of degradation occur.  It is suggested that people need to participate in intellectual stimulation by learning a new skill or language, take classes to learn things you've always wanted to study, build new habits so the brain creates more neural pathways. This way if some of the pathways die, your brain still has enough for you to function well.  

In addition, researchers have found that it helps if people do activities that cause them to retain and retrieve information such as when doing crossword puzzles, riddles, math, ballroom dancing, or learn accounting.  What ever you choose it cannot be too easy, it has to cause you to stop and think.  For instance, if you always do easy crossword puzzles, you will find the activity is not as stimulating as if you try the harder ones.

It is also important to get enough sleep every night because it gives the brain a chance to solidify memories.  When a person does not get enough sleep, their hippocampus shrinks which can lead to some very unhealthy decisions such as eating junk food, or skip exercising.  In addition, when deprived of sleep, a person tends to have higher stress levels.  

Another suggestion, is for people to maintain an active social life because remaining both socially and intellectually active helps bolster the function of your brain. Furthermore, communicating with others helps your brain interpret both visual and verbal clues and keeps one from feeling isolated and face possible depression. 

So as you see, it is important to exercise, sleep, and participate in intellectual stimulation as you age so your brain remains in as good health as your body.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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