Thursday, September 30, 2010

Improve Brain Health Now: Easy Steps

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

4.Stress Man­age­ment
◦- 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

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