Power up with calisthenics for your brain

We all want a better functioning and sharper brain, don’t we? There are simple and science-based suggestions that can alter and improve our brain function and power.

David Alter, Ph.D. and Henry Emmons, M.D., are authors of “Staying Sharp“. They say boosting our brains’ capability for focusing and concentration can be not only simple but fun.

Here are some of their suggestions:

1. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. It will challenge your brain to behave in new ways. If you are right-handed, brushing with your left can encourage your brain cells “to produce growth-stimulating molecules”.

2. “Dance, jump or jog”, a recent study from the University of British Columbia, found that regular aerobic exercise can increase the size of our hippocampus. It is the part of our brain that helps with memory and learning.

3. Eat avocado – This brain food aids in reducing inflammation and increase mental abilities.

4. Get proper sleep – Having healthy sleep patterns helps to clear the cobwebs from our brain. It improves our mood and overall sense of well-being. The National Sleep Foundation recommends you get seven to nine hours of sleep a day.

5. Have some fish – We all know the importance of eating omega 3’s (fatty acids found in salmon and other cold-water fish). A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh found that eating any broiled or baked fish once per week helped to improve structural brain changes that impact memory.

6. Color – A recent craze is adult coloring books. They allow those of us who grew up coloring our favorite cartoon pages to snap up these coloring books with everything from geometric shapes and patterns to floral, wildlife, or famous artist drawings.

Coloring was always a particular favorite activity of mine as a child, and I must confess to having purchased a couple of coloring books recently. It was great fun to finish just two pages a month ago but having the time; that’s another story. 🙂

7. Close your eyes – A research study from the University of Surrey in the U.K. found that closing our eyes while remembering an event helped to improve the accuracy of its details by 23%. The belief is that our brain can focus more efficiently without visual distractions.

8. Learn a new Language – Many suggest that learning a new language may help to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These days, we have an app for everything, including learning a new language. Explore Duolingo, the 2013 App of the Year for Apple.

9. Practice a Daily Meditation – Practicing daily mindfulness can improve connections throughout the brain in just eight weeks! Ongoing research from Wake Forest University has shown that meditation may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and decrease the production of cortisol, a stress hormone.

10. Stay positive – Staying positive can stimulate your brain’s physical ability to adapt and change. Even in the face of crisis, we see examples of people like former President Jimmy Carter responding to his recent cancer diagnosis with faith, optimism, and determination.

11.) Play ping pong – This simple sport has been found to improve concentration and attention, particularly in individuals older than 50.

12. Lower your blood sugar – Lowering the risk for diabetes can also help to reduce your chances of developing dementia. After fasting, a healthy blood sugar is less than 100. If you have diabetes, eating regular, healthy meals will help to keep blood sugar in check.

These tips are summaries from a recent Parade magazine article by Lisa Mulcahy, October 2015. See all 23 of her recommendations when you have a chance.

But for now, see how many of these suggestions you can implement in the next month. It’s time to strengthen your mental muscles!

Happy Fall to All,

Linda Cook