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Brain Fitness Basics

November 4th, 2020

Keeping your brain healthy and active is something often talked more about for older people, but should be done by people of all ages. Attending to your brain’s needs as early as possible will pay off in maintaining mental fitness and combating neurological disorders and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Moreover, in fighting Alzheimer’s disease, you’re also fighting heart disease, as there are some common risk factors between the two.

So how exactly is brain fitness accomplished? Largely, through exposing your brain to varied activities and its curiosities. Whenever you feel that you’ve learned the full extent of something, whether it be a game, book series, task, etc., this should indicate that it’s time to shift onto something new and unfamiliar. Without a doubt, there are likely plenty of things you’re curious about— the world around you, how it works, and how you can know it better will allow your brain to stay young and not slack.

A good first brain exercise example is reading. If you already read in your free time, then great, keep it up! This activity has been found to enhance empathy, improve memory, and promote longevity and relaxation. On top of this, you can read just about anything and in so many ways:

  • History, if you’re interested in a certain era, event, or person
  • Science, if you want to learn more about natural phenomena
  • Works from foreign authors, if you want first-hand insight on other cultures and places
  • Poetry, if you enjoy the challenge of deciphering symbolism and allegories
  • How To’s, if you decide to extensively learn a new skill

Another great way to work out your brain is playing games. Games that rely on logic, word skills, math, and so on are ideal brain exercises. This could be sudoku, electronic games, and crossword puzzles. Even dedicating as little as 20 minutes a day to one of these games will be of benefit to your brain. If any of these mentioned aren’t your thing, try an observation game. With each day, you can pick a specific thing to observe, think about, and maybe even make tallies for the day. This could be what people are wearing, a common animal/insect in your area, or a certain color, as a few examples. The main idea with this observation game is to pick something new each day and see where you can find said thing.

A third superb way to exercise your brain is to be more dependent on your own memory, both short-term and long-term, and switch things up. This could involve you using your nondominant hand for a few days out of the week for the frequent tasks that you do. Switching hands will cause your brain to lay down some new pathways and rethink your usual activities. Another way you could rely more on your brain is by learning the phone numbers of your contacts or only having grocery lists as backup when shopping. Practicing both of these are great for keeping your memory up to snuff. A final way to switch it up is to break your routine in feasible ways. If you drive to work everyday, but it’s only a 10 or 15 minute more bike/bus ride, try going that route a few days out of the week. Do you usually have a certain food or drink at a set time each day? Try having it earlier or later in the day. Perhaps do your errands for a day out of the usual order.

A fourth great way to exercise your brain is to exercise your entire body. If you already have a workout routine, then great, you’ve already been exercising your brian well. Regular exercise provides favorable outcomes on the brain through all stages of life, as it enhances the blood flow to your brain and generally helps to keep blood vessels healthy. Other benefits reached by regular exercise are helping brain tissue to produce mitochondria, which is responsible for your cellular energy, and significant reduction in Alzheimer’s disease risk. Moreover, maintained physical fitness will translate well into your later years with better cognitive function, memory, and reaction time. Most importantly, it’s essential to choose an exercise routine that you can stick with in order to reap these brain-longevity benefits. Light walks at least once a day are better than no walks for days on end. If cardio isn’t your thing, try calisthenics, weight lifting, or meditation if those types are fun to you and are doable. 

To “work out” your brain in the first place necessitates the best fuel to work through these new activities. For starters, make sure to eat plenty of healthy fats; you can get these from nuts, seeds, and salmon. Likewise, it would serve you well to avoid trans fats and saturated fats, as high levels of trans fats are linked with reduced serotonin production, leading to adversely affected memory and depression. Next is to keep your diet to a majority of whole plant foods— vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Adhering to a diet full of these and lower in meat and dairy products relate to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. Likewise, it’s important to limit your intake of red meat and generally most other animal products. Red meat in particular is high in copper and iron, which in unrestrained amounts, contribute to oxidative stress and plaque formation in the brain.

With all that said, it can’t be reiterated enough how imperative the brain is to all of what we experience and directly dictates our quality of life. Remember, a mind is a beautiful thing to waste, so why not take care of it to the best of your abilities?

Often, these and other steps aren't enough alone to bring your brain back into balance. At Windmill Wellness Ranch we use iTMS to restore the balance back to its homeostatic rythym. iTMS is a form of neuromodulation that resets the brain frequency to the same rate in all functional areas of the brain, and is especially useful for those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction.

For more information on how iTMS may help you, or for information regarding our best-in-class alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs, learn more at our About Us page, or Contact Us.