Earth day sure has gotten some attention, I tells ya. I don’t want to break up the holiday party, BUT it is still Wednesday and time for some wondrous health news.
I found myself over at AARP.org the other day (don’t ask me why… I know I’m not their target reader being 23 years of age) and I realized that the publication has a lot of useful information for ANY age. I know most of our readers are youngin’s, but don’t let your spirited and youthful exuberance fool you. You’re never too young to concern yourself with health.
I am beginning to notice aches and pains that I never had before, and I’m a pretty active chica. With all my biking, running, skipping, and jumping, however, my favorite thing to exercise remains the same. It’s the good ol’ lobes and cortexes. The white and gray matter of the brain holds all of my memories. It holds my creativity, my insight, my emotions, my friendships, my family, my curiosity, and pretty much everything that keeps me connected. Why then would I neglect it? Why would I ever fathom letting it go to waste?
I can’t let those synapses fail!
I can’t keep the neurons from hanging together!
NEITHER SHOULD YOU!
So then… over at AARP… there was a great list of 50 Ways to Boost Your Noodle. Doing these things should help keep your brain a movin’ and a shakin’. I thought they were wonderful, simple tips. Some of them I’d heard of before, but some of them I didn’t. Here are my faves (especially the first one):
- Ballroom dance like the stars. Dancing is a brain-power activity. How so? Learning new moves activates brain motor centers that form new neural connections. Dancing also calms the brain’s stress response.
- Volunteer to answer questions at the library, arboretum, museum, or hospital. Playing tour guide forces you to learn new facts and think on your feet, helping to form new neural pathways in your brain. What’s more, interacting with others can ease stress that depletes memory.
- When you look around, really look. Stare straight ahead, and now—without moving your eyes—see if you can make out what’s at the periphery. Do this regularly and you’ll stimulate the neural and spatial centers of the brain, which can atrophy as you age.
- When you look forward, also look around. Walking down the street, don’t just keep your eyes forward. Scan to the left and to the right. These actions can activate rarely used parts of the brain. That in turn can spur brain cell growth and new neural connections.
- Sit quietly, choose a word that calms you, and when your mind starts to wander, say the word silently. A form of meditation, this type of activity can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which zaps memory. Meditation also helps mitigate focus-stealing feelings like depression and anxiety.
- Wear a helmet. Riding your bike is great for your health—until you fall and get a concussion. Even one serious concussion could increase your risk of developing dementia. So protect your physical brain as meticulously as you would protect its functioning by doing brain teasers.
- Take a food break. Research shows that people who fast one day a week or month unlock a unique form of blood glucose that helps the brain more efficiently transmit information. Then break your fast with brain-healthy blueberries, walnuts, and maybe a glass of red wine.
- Switch hands. It may be uncomfortable, but writing with your nondominant hand or operating a computer mouse with that hand can activate parts of the brain that aren’t easily triggered otherwise. Anything that requires the brain to pay close attention to a formerly automatic behavior will stimulate brain-cell growth.
What great tips, amirite?! Dance your little hearts out, kids, and you’ll stay a kid forever! Theres proof, too. Fred Astaire, the king of all things dance, lived a very long active life. Even when he was 78, he broke his wrist trying out his grandson’s skateboard. Amazing.
I love all of your brains, because they have brought us together. Strong thinking power is what we need!
Happy hump day (and Earth Day)!