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4 Easy Steps to a Better Brain

Did you ever think that the ability for your brain to achieve its maximum superpowers resides well within you? Scientific research suggests that doing just these 4 simple things listed below will help not just preserve your brain power, but maximize it so you can feel like you are functioning well, maybe even at your very best, and feel energized no matter what your age and circumstance of life is.

1. Get moving. 

Whether it is dancing, walking your dog, working in the yard, all that matters is that you simply move around. Physical activity clears out a substance called amyloid, which is believed to accumulate and “gunk up” the brain in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. The scary part is that amyloid can start building up a decade, maybe even two, before symptoms actually start. The only thing that is proven to lower amyloid in the brain is exercise!

A little physical activity is such a potent health player that active people have a 35-38 percent lower risk of mental decline than sedentary ones. A study published in the journal Neurology, found that the better shape you are in early on, the better your brain will be in the future. It was discovered that more fit people had stronger cognitive abilities 25 years later than less fit individuals. Neurologists and exercise physiologists recommend 20-30 minutes of purposeful activity most days of the week that ups your heart rate.

2. Let your mind wander and play — in a good way!

It has been discovered that thinking in a new or deeper way can help drive your mental prowess, without fancy computer games or Sudoku puzzles! Essentially anything that promotes reasoning and attention, for example getting together with your close friends doing something new, as opposed to the same old thing. Perhaps reading a novel, or different genre you wouldn’t ordinarily gravitate towards counts as well. Bonus points for your brain, if the plot is intricate.

This type of novelty and challenging thought is not hard to do, but sometimes falls to the wayside. Simply executing the same routine day in and day out might seem comfortable and safe at first, but over time it robs your brain of essential neuronal connections that could be made stronger. These strengthened connections are the fallback resource your brain can use if the main pathways get weakened by aging, or clogged up later in life as a result of dementia, or other negative accumulative life style habits. Even though it’s hard to change up an existing routine that actually works, you should reconsider thinking of something different from time to time.

3. Strategize Your Snoozing Time

When time gets tight, sleep should not be the thing you compromise on or put on the backburner. It all starts in the brain with how you actually perceive your bedtime routine. It’s important to reframe the hours you spend getting ready for bed and sleeping as a priority and must do. Treat the time you take to unwind as an important appointment you must keep. In fact, schedule it as an appointment so you will keep it.

Take stock of your actual sleep hygiene. For example, light can confuse your natural sleep/wake cycle so invest in some good blinds, or blackout shades to ensure that you sleep in a dark, and quit room. Banish screens from your bedroom, as the blue lights from these devices keep you from producing melatonin, a sleep hormone that rises in your body at night. Aside from proper bedroom hygiene, sticking to a consistent schedule is even more vital. Even a seemingly small change or shift as getting up at a different hour on the weekends can throw your body off. Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake up time to nourish yourself from the inside out.

4. Do Right by Your Heart

Did you know that all those healthy moves you are making to keep your ticker in shape, your brain benefits from, too? In other words, what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. It is never too late to start, so start today by knowing your numbers. Risk factors for Alzheimer’s are similar to those for heart disease and can include high blood pressure, off kilter cholesterol numbers, obesity, and other metabolic disorders like diabetes. Learning your numbers and working to manage them means you’re helping to keep your Alzheimer’s rise in check as well.

Contrary to what society at large perceives, being thin is not always synonymous with good health. Eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline, according to a review of the top evidence by the Alzheimer’s Association. So pile your plate with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts. Cook with olive oil more often and consider meat an occasional appetizer, not the main dish.

Unfortunately, no single food is likely to be the cause of or cure for memory slips. But an overall healthy eating plan may help keep your brain in shape. In 2017, in a study of nearly 6,000 people in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, it suggested that people who ate this way had a 35 percent lower risk of cognitive decline and impairment than people who did not follow the diet. Scientists are discovering that your brain and your heart have similar needs.

Following this 4-step plan diligently and consistently will help keep your synapses firing as they should, so you will have the ability to think clearly, hold on to treasured memories, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline well into your golden years. The rest of course, may be up to things out of your control, which luckily accounts for very little.

4 Easy Steps to a Better Brain

Emily Waters

Emily Waters earned her Master's degree in industrial psychology with an emphasis in human relations. She possesses keen insight into the field of applied psychology, organizational development, motivation, and stress, the latter of which is ubiquitous in the workplace environment and in one’s personal life. One of her academic passions is the understanding of human nature and illness as it pertains to the mind and body. Prior to obtaining her degree, she worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Presently, she teaches a variety of psychology courses both in public and private universities.


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APA Reference
Waters, E. (2018). 4 Easy Steps to a Better Brain. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 28, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/4-easy-steps-to-a-better-brain/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Feb 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Feb 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.