Apr 11, 2007
By: Caroline Latham
We can summarize a lot of research by saying that there are four essential pillars to maintaining a healthy brain that functions better now and lasts longer. Those pillars are:
◦1) Physical Exercise
◦2) Mental Exercise
◦3) Good Nutrition
◦4) Stress Management
Great … now what?! How do you develop a healthy lifestyle that includes all four pillars? Let’s look at each one.
1.1. Physical Exercise
◦- Start by talking to your doctor, especially if you are not currently physically active, have special health concerns, or are making significant changes to your current program.
◦- Set a goal that you can achieve. Do something you enjoy for even just 15 minutes a day. You can always add more time and activities later.
◦- Schedule exercise into your daily routine. It will be become a habit faster if you do.
◦- If you can only do one thing, do something cardiovascular, meaning something that gets your heart beating faster. This includes walking, running, skiing, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis, basketball, playing tag, ultimate Frisbee, and other similar sports/activities.
2.2. Mental Exercise
◦- Be curious! Get to know your local library and community college, look for local organizations or churches that offer classes or workshops
◦- Do a variety of things, including things you aren’t good at (if you like to sing, try painting too)
◦- Work puzzles like crosswords and sudoku or play games like chess and bridge
◦- Try a computerized brain fitness program for a customized workout
◦- If you can only do one thing, learn something new every day
3.3. Good Nutrition
◦- Eat a variety of foods of different colors without a lot of added ingredients or processes
◦- Plan your meals around your vegetables, and then add fruit, protein, dairy, and/or grains
◦- Add some cold-water fish to your diet (tuna, salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and herring) which contain omega-3 fatty acids
◦- Learn what a portion-size is, so you don’t overeat
◦- Try to eat more foods low on the Glycemic Index
◦- If you can only do one thing, eat more vegetables, particularly leafy green ones
◦- Get regular cardiovascular exercise
◦- Try to get enough sleep each night
◦- Keep connected with your friends and family
◦- Practice meditation, yoga, or some other calming activity as way to take a relaxing time-out (maybe a bath)
◦- Try training with a heart rate variability sensor, like the one in emWave (formerly known as Freeze-Framer)
◦- If you can only do one thing, set aside 5–10 minutes to just breathe deeply and recharge