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Page 72

HF HEALTH + FITNESS

Mentally Fit

JUST LIKE YOUR MUSCLES NEED EXERCISE, YOUR BRAIN NEEDS MENTAL WORKOUTS TO STAY IN SHAPE. BY ASHTON GREER

GO BACK TO SCHOOL Your brain is the most amazing part of your body. Not only does it manage your memory, thoughts, and behavior, but it controls breathing and your heart. But it’s easy to take it for granted. Many people don’t start thinking about brain health until they notice some cognitive changes and memory loss in their 60s or 70s. Everyone has the occasional “senior moment.” Maybe you’ve gone into the kitchen and can’t remember why, or can’t recall a familiar name during a conversation. And who hasn’t misplaced car keys? Memory lapses can occur at any age, but aging alone is generally not a cause of cognitive decline. While it is true that the brain will begin to slow down due to aging, our brains are still able to be reshaped because of the brain’s ability to change. And that’s why it is crucial to get a head start in keeping your mind running at peak levels. This will increase your thinking skills and strengthen the bond between brain cells. The truth is, there’s no single “miracle cure” for memory problems or other brain changes that come with aging. But there is cause for optimism. Studies have shown that you can help prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia with some basic health habits. Science points to a combination of social factors and healthy habits that — taken together — can help you build, preserve, and protect your brain’s function over time.

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Returning to school may sound dreadful, but a higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that advanced education may help keep brains healthy by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them.

GIVE YOUR BRAIN A BREAK Taking work breaks during our day isn’t being lazy; it’s about working with our brain the way it was designed. We have peaks and troughs of energy cycling through 90-minute periods during our day. Taking a 20-minute break between each of these allows us to get more done, at a higher level, in less time and with energy left to

spare. Take a look at your daily schedule and see when you can next give your brain the break it deserves.

STAY FIT Both cardio and weight-bearing exercises have positive effects on the brain for learning and memory. It can even help your brain create new cells. Exercising as little as 15-30 minutes a day can improve your brain health. As you exercise, more blood can flow to the brain, which is crucial for brain function. Make physical activity fun and go on a walk, take a bike ride, or even do some laps in the pool.

MEDITATE Not only will 5-10 minutes of mindful meditation calm your brain and make it easier to sleep, but meditation has also been shown to reduce anxiety,

Profile for Preview 918

March 2020 (Vol. 34, No. 3)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...

March 2020 (Vol. 34, No. 3)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...