Improving Brain Fitness: Think EXERCISE!

Exercise clearly increases brain activity as seen in the photo on the right. Research by Dr. Chuck Hillman, University of Illinois.

Exercise clearly increases brain activity as seen in the photo on the right. Research by Dr. Chuck Hillman, University of Illinois.

Most of us know that losing weight and feeling great are two of the benefits of leading an active lifestyle, but did you know that exercise is amazingly good for the brain? Research findings continue to suggest that physical activity, even in small amounts, may delay or slow cognitive decline in older adults. This is great news to those of who wish to remain independent as we age.

 

Crossword puzzles and other brain games definitely keep your brain active, but adding exercise increases the benefits and has shown to improve brain functions. Researchers have also shown that exercise may delay the onset of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Another benefit is the human brain’s ability to maintain old neural connections and create new ones that are vital to healthy brain functioning.

 

In addition, exercise boosts mood and self-confidence by the body’s natural production of endorphins, which are proven to reduce stress, help ward off feelings of depression, relieve anxiety, and help improve sleep…all leading to better brain health. And a healthy brain can help people live productive and satisfying lives, no matter our age. Also, maintaining a positive outlook on life is important. The emphasis of positive self-talk plus finding deeper meaning to our lives helps increase happiness and longevity.

 

Thinking healthy leads to being healthy.

~Michael R. Mantell, PhD, Behavioral Psychologist

 

Diet also plays a crucial role in cognitive functioning. According to Michael R. Mantell, PhD, “First, the link is what you think. The way to your stomach is through your mind.” Research suggests that eating certain foods (and avoiding others) can help keep the brain healthy.

In example a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, is associated with reduced rate of cognitive declines. Avoiding highly processed foods and saturated fats is also recommended.

 

Healthy lifestyle changes bring about many benefits, in addition to the obvious ones such as losing weight and feeling great. A healthy brain will help to live a high functioning life as we age. Fitness really does start in the brain!