Exercise the Brain to Maximize Overall Health

Exercise the Brain to Maximize Overall Health

Many experts and studies including the Johnny Orr Memory Center and Healthy Aging Institute, Livestong.com and the AARP conclude that brain health is maximized by a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and brain exercises.  And, you can do this without spending a dime.


Dr. Bender of the Johnny Orr Center says, “The brain was to learn new things – when the brain is passive, it has a tendency to atrophy (just like muscles).  For this reason relatively passive activates such as sitting in front of a TV for hours a day can be detrimental to brain health over time.”


And, you can do this without spending a dime.


Recommended brain activities are:


From The Franklin Institute:  Stimulate your imagination by thinking as you take a walk.  Imagine how you would landscape people’s yards as you walk by; guess the names of flowers, shrubs or plants you see.


From Lawrence Katz, professor of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center:  Neurobics are exercises that develop and enhance the five senses.  For example, try buttoning your shirt or tying your shoes with your eyes closed.  Try eating, brushing your teeth and using the computer mouse with your non-dominant hand.  Try eating a meal with a partner or friend without talking; only utilizing visual clues and gestures to express yourself or your wishes.


From Dr. Morley, MD, director of St. Louis University’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of The Science of Staying Young – his Top 10:


Test your recall. Make a list — of grocery items, things to do, or anything else that comes to mind — and memorize it. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.


Let the music play. Learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. Studies show that learning something new and complex over a longer period of time is ideal for the aging mind.


Do math in your head. Figure out problems without the aid of pencil, paper, or computer; you can make this more difficult — and athletic — by walking at the same time.


Take a cooking class. Learn how to cook a new cuisine. Cooking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain.


Learn a foreign language. The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain. What’s more, a rich vocabulary has been linked to a reduced risk for cognitive decline.


Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try and think of any other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.


Draw a map from memory. After returning home from visiting a new place, try to draw a map of the area; repeat this exercise each time you visit a new location.


Challenge your taste buds. When eating, try to identify individual ingredients in your meal, including subtle herbs and spices.


Refine your hand-eye abilities. Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, assembling a puzzle, etc.


Learn a new sport. Start doing an athletic exercise that utilizes both mind and body, such as yoga, golf, or tennis.


And, you’re never too young to start exercising the brain – start TODAY.