Do you want your brain to perform at its best, in the present and in the future? How can you achieve this? Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a study of 17 “superagers,” seniors who have the brain function of 20 year olds. The scientists searched for key differences between superager brains and regular brains. And, if so, whether the findings could help improve brain function throughout one’s lifetime.
Yes, there were differences and, yes, they found ways to boost brain function. Superagers brains were bigger in regions where the normal brains were smaller. Surprisingly, the areas weren’t associated with mental reasoning but, rather, linked to emotion.
How do you stimulate the emotional regions? Well, it’s not by reading a sad novel or getting angry. It’s by challenging yourself until you are outside your comfort zone, then you have to push past this stage. Interestingly, it can be either a physical like a strenuous hike or a mental effort like solving a difficult puzzle.
So what are some ways to challenge yourself?
Learn an instrument – set a deadline for when you’ll perform a song in front of your family, friends or peers
Study a new language – plan a date to read a book or to speak with a local in that language
Participate in Tough Mudder – or an equally physically challenging activity that will take you past your comfort zone. Eg. Cross Fit, cycling
Take up meditation – sign up for some classes or read a book and then practice for longer periods day after day
Using Fit Brains for just 5 minutes a day can help keep your brain challenged and engaged! Challenge your brain with Fit Brains now.
Most of us think about mental exercises when we think of brain training. And of course this is a very important component of brain training! Did you know that your brain wants to be stimulated and exercised? When you do something new or somewhat complex your brain will react favorably and will become more resilient! On the other hand, your brain will suffer if it is too passive or routine.
Mental exercises or mental stimulation can take many different forms, so here are some tips for different ways your can stimulate your brain!
Learn something new, such as a new language
Travel to new places or use new routes in otherwise familiar setting
Play a musical instrument
Get crafty and creative (like arts and crafts, not witchcraft)
Do focused brain training activities (like Fit Brains)
Play board games
Read and write
What type of mental activity gives your brain the biggest boost? Tell us in the comments! Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle, health & brain tips. And, you can always benefit your brain when you play Fit Brains fun brain games! Try Fit Brains for FREE now!
Bad News: It’s Monday morning. Coffee is not working. Schedule for the day involves a lot of thinking, talking, and moving.
Coffee is not the only solution to life’s problems.
Weekday mornings are never appealing to the brain. However, there are certain things you can do to ease the torturous time and effort to wake up, refresh, and energize your mind. Check out our tips below:
Drink Water — Drink a glass of water immediately after you wake up to kick up your metabolism and de-fog your brain.
Don’t “Snooze” — You’re setting yourself up to feel lazy & unmotivated throughout the day when you delay waking up and hit “snooze” multiple times in the morning. Pick a time that gives you enough sleep but also enough time to go through your morning routine without rushing, and wake up when your first alarm rings.
Open the Blinds — Sunlight has a direct effect on the activity in our brains. When we deprive our brains of light, we will stay in a groggy, sleep-like state of consciousness. Bright light helps shift our brain waves to higher frequencies and triggers the release of brain-happy neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Exercise in the Morning — The act of exercising in the morning might sound horrendous if you’ve never done it, but besides obvious health reasons, it’ll actually give you more energy throughout the whole day. Try sleeping in your workout clothes to lessen the chances of making excuses in the morning.
Turn up the Music — Listen to some upbeat tunes as you get ready in the morning. Studies have shown that music is the one stimulus that lights up the entire brain on a PET scan. Music helps the brain release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate the brain’s pleasure and reward centres, as well as emotional responses and motivation.
Take a Cold Shower — No explanation needed. It’s horrible. But it works.
Don’t treat Coffee like a “Drug” — On days you feel more energized, try to forego the coffee, or at least try cutting down the amount you drink everyday. If you absolutely need a pick-me-up, try drinking some brain-healthy green tea instead!
Eat Breakfast — Take the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” seriously. Breakfast gives your brain vital nutrients that it needs in order to optimally carry out mental processes throughout the day. Think of it as fuel for your body, without it, you’ll run out of fumes! Try including some brain-healthy foods in your breakfast diet.
Talk to Someone — Engage in some light chit-chat with a family member, friend, or co-worker in the morning. Even though you might not feel like it, taking the initiative to engage in a conversation really helps to get your mind & body out of a “zombie-like” state.
Play Fit Brains — Prep your brain for a new day’s workload by spending a few minutes playing Fit Brains brain games. Fit Brains exercises help stimulate and entertain your mind. You can play Fit Brains on any web browser or train on-the-go with our iOS, Android, or Amazon app!
Do YOU have any “wake-up” tips of your own? Share with us in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #wakeupbraintip!
The Spring brings a new life to nature and even a chance for everyone to begin a fresh new start in lifestyle. Here are a few tips to maintaining a positive mood for the Spring:
1. Increase your daily time outside.
2. Increase your fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines) intake.
3. Be consistent and persistent with exercise.
4. Give yourself 30 minutes a day.
5. Think a positive thought for each experience.
Everyone experiences moments when we feel sluggish or perhaps hyperactive. Sometimes our brains feel like they are stuck in mud while other times we can solve almost any problem we confront. Interestingly, these cycles of mental energy or arousal may occur within a 24 hour time period, our circadian rhythm.
Some of us have our creative time or the time we perform best mentally in the morning hours. Others have their greatness expressed in the evening hours. There is no right versus wrong, simply different. Some people who work after midnight or in a mine shaft that has no natural light can experience a different circadian rhythm than those who work during the day and have exposure to natural sunlight. Sleep disorders, depression, and cognitive problems can result from altered sleep wake cycles.
There is no clear explanation for when arousal is highest in some and lowest for others. Some factors that can enhance or reduce mental energy or arousal include the following:
Amount of daily exercise
Amount of sleep in 24 hours
Types of foods consumed
Water intake and hydration
Exposure to sunlight
Prescribed Medication and substance abuse
Mental challenge during the day
One of the best methods to increase mental energy is to increase blood flow to the brain through movement. This can include a brisk walk, aerobics, brain games, swimming, and even a dance. Fresh air can also rejuvenate a sluggish brain and increase water intake to remain hydrated during the day. Sugar can put the brain to sleep in some cases or make it feel like a good nap is needed. Caffeine can provide a quick boost, but may result in a type of mental crash later in the day.
It is a good idea to first identify what periods of the day your brain is alert and productive and when it is sluggish. Try to identify what factors might be causing the onset of sluggishness and consider the brain tips suggested above.
A mentally alert brain is critical to health and to productivity.