Exercise Your Brain like You Do Your Muscles for the Same Results

By Harry Jackson, Jr. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 6, 2016 | Go to article overview

Exercise Your Brain like You Do Your Muscles for the Same Results


Harry Jackson, Jr., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


As we get older we begin to fear the little things that were once routine annoyances: forgetting where you put the keys, missing appointments, forgetting names of people you've known for a while.

Most of the time it's no big deal. But as the years pile on, the confidence erodes. In the vast number of cases, there's nothing to worry about. Still, there are proven ways to keep your brain sharp through life.

If you're worried, all primary care physicians have basic tests that can detect the possibility of more serious problems.

Otherwise, here are few places to help your brain shape up. Some offer tips, some offer games and exercises.

ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION

Where * Alz.org

How much * Free

What * Alzheimer's is feared by people who've turned 40 or 50, although that's much too early to be concerned. Fortunately, there are ways to slow or prevent Alzheimer's or other cognitive problems. This site offers common sense tips for staying brain-sharp:

Show your brain some love * If your heart or cardiovascular system are wearing down, you can bet, so is your thinking ability. There's a reason why ideas and creativity often follow an exercise session. What's good for your heart, lungs and other critical organs is good for your brain. So, exercise. Get the blood moving in your body and your mind will follow. The same elements that cause heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and all parts of metabolic syndrome dull the brain. The same things that relieve the maladies sharpen the brain.

Read, take classes * The more education you get, learning you do, the stronger your brain will be. If you don't want to go to school, check free online universities that are guaranteed to keep your brain in top shape, no less your sharper world view, as well as make you more interesting.

Stop smoking * Putting tobacco smoke in your lungs is like putting sand in your car oil. Cognitive decline can stop and even reverse with the cessation of smoking.

Avoid banging your head * For younger folks, rethink sports and pastimes that cause your head to be rammed at full speed into hard things. Doing so may be driving the on-ramp to dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, prevent falls.

Eat right * A diet high in vegetables, fruit and fiber keep the pipes clean and build a better brain. Talk to your pediatrician about children's diets because some amount of fat and protein is essential to growth. Otherwise, look for the Mediterranean diets and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

Sleep well * Interference with sleep for any reason, from insomnia to working split shifts, wears away at cognitive quality, especially memory and thinking. Describe your sleep patterns to your doctor. Tests can determine if you need more help than you think. …

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