Brain Health: Physical Activity & Your Brain

Physical Activity
Get Moving for a Healthier, Happier Brain!

Now, more than ever before, people are taking the time to learn about the human brain and the many ways they can improve their brain health.  Brain health is about more than disease prevention (though that’s obviously important too); it’s about leading a lifestyle, supported by science, which promotes and facilitates cognitive, emotional, physical ability, spiritual health, and relational health (read: relationships).  Basically when you focus on brain health you can live your life to the fullest.

But what does it look like to actually put this into practice?  We’re devoting some upcoming posts to lay out specific suggestions for improving your brain health, based on research from Dr. Nussbaum’s Brain Health Lifestyle (see www.paulnussbaum.com).  Our first post in this series focuses on physical activity to improve your brain health.

When it comes to physical activity, studies conducted by the University of Adelaide, Australia, have shown that a single 30 minute session of physical activity benefits your brain (as reported in Medical Daily).  Researchers say physical activity makes your brain more “plastic”, which can help things like memory, motor skills and learning in general.  It also increases circulation, which helps for more efficient delivery of nutrients and the like.  That’s probably worth getting out the stationary bike for, right?  There are lots of different ways you can move to benefit your brain though!       

Here are some of our favorite suggestions for exercise to boost your brain health:

  •         Walk a mile daily
  •         Up the ante with aerobics 3 times a week (yeah, break out that old Jane Fonda video)
  •         Dance!
  •         Try some mild weight training
  •         Try Yoga, Pilates, Barre (or whatever they come out with next!)
  •         Basically, whatever you do, DON’T JUST SIT THERE!

What type of physical activity gives your brain the biggest boost?  Tell us in the comments!  Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips.  And, you can always benefit your brain when you play Fit Brains fun brain games!  Try Fit Brains for FREE now!

Fit Brains.  Brain Training Success.

Source: Caba, Justin. Your Brain On Exercise: 30 Minutes of Physical Activity Makes Your Brain More ‘Plastic’. Medical Daily. 2014.

Introducing the All-New Fit Brains Trainer!

NewFitBrainsAppOur Biggest Update Ever is Here! We’re excited to introduce the All-New Improved Fit Brains and can’t wait for you to try it out. Our award-winning #1 ranked education app in 90+ countries with 18 million+ global users got a do-over. What’s New?

THE WORLD’S FIRST EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ) AND IQ BRAIN TRAINER!

1. THE ENTERTAINER: More Fun Brain Games

We’ve added 9 brain games, 1 for 6 core brain areas plus 3 in the new Emotional Intelligence category. You can stimulate not just your Memory, Focus, Language, Thinking Speed and Visual-Spatial skills but also Self-Awareness, Self-Control and Social Awareness skills. Studies show that these abilities are the key to success, happiness and health. We have the most games on the market with 70+ and the widest variety. Can you beat the top scores? Play with Mood Matcher, Color Control, Circle Count and more.

2. THE TRAINER: Improved Cognitive Training

We’re not just a pretty face, our Fit Brains trainer got a complete makeover. It’s more engaging, higher quality and easier to understand. Train with over 500+ personalized sessions. Target specific areas of your brain with our new “Customize Training” option. And track your scores with the new “Training Results Screen”. Curious? Check it out.

3. THE GAMECHANGER: New Emotional Intelligence Training! (Beta)

We’re the World’s first comprehensive Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Cognitive brain trainer. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Our goal is to provide an All-In-One Holistic approach for brain health and performance by combining Cognitive and EQ training. Your brain is ‘plastic’, thus, like your IQ, your EQ can also change and improve. Studies show that EQ can be improved more than 50%.

We added a whole new area for EQ: Self Awareness, Self Control and Social Awareness. Another section, Social Skills, will be added soon.

  • Self Control: the ability to control and manage our impulses, appropriate or otherwise. It affects how we fit into our communities and social circles, as well as how we grow and better ourselves.
  • Self Awareness: the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions which affects our sense of identity and general well-being.
  • Social Awareness: the ability to understand the moods and emotional responses of others. It helps improve social interaction and builds stronger social bonds.

Key Benefits of Emotional Intelligence     

  • A More Happy, Healthy, Successful You
  • Stronger Relationships
  • Improved Health and Less Stress
  • Better Decision Making
  • Main Predictor of Job Success
  • Higher Salary Potential

Want a better quality of life? Rewire your brain. Rewrite your life story. Discover an easy and quick way to challenge your mind! Get started for FREE now! You’ll love the results…and our games!

“Brain Training Success”

 

Brain Train Your Way to Better Performance: The FINGER Study

According to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet (March 2015) brain training, exercise, healthy eating and management of risk factors seems to maintain or improve cognitive function and delay cognitive decline.  The Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) is the first of its’ kind, ground breaking trial to combat some of the key high risk factors for dementia (eg. Heart health, high BMI).

Method

1260 Finns aged 60-77 were randomly divided equally between the control group who were given general health tips and the intervention group.  The latter had regular meetings with healthcare professionals and were given comprehensive guidance on healthy eating, exercise programs, brain training and managing metabolic and vascular risk factors, for example, with regular blood exams.

Findings

After 2 years, the participants’ cognitive performance was assessed with a standard exam, the Neuropsychological Test Battery (NTB).  The overall scores for the intervention group were higher by 25%.  The remarkable results for certain sections of the exam, processing speed at 150% and executive functioning at 83% were even higher.  Executive function refers to the brain’s capacity to manage, plan and execute thought processes.

“Much previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health, and fitness. However, our study is the first large randomised controlled trial to show that an intensive program aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.” Professor Kivipelto, lead Researcher – Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and University of Eastern Finland

Train & Play with Fit Brains

Your brain is like a muscle, it can grow fitter and stronger with exercise. Train and play with Fit Brains. Fit Brains exercises help stimulate and entertain your mind. You can play Fit Brains on any web browser or train or train on-the-go with our IOS, Android or Amazon app!   

Play Fit Brains

Journal Reference

Tiia Ngandu, Jenni Lehtisalo, Alina Solomon, Esko Levälahti, Satu Ahtiluoto, Riitta Antikainen, Lars Bäckman, Tuomo Hänninen, Antti Jula, Tiina Laatikainen, Jaana Lindström, Francesca Mangialasche, Teemu Paajanen, Satu Pajala, Markku Peltonen, Rainer Rauramaa, Anna Stigsdotter-Neely, Timo Strandberg, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Hilkka Soininen, Miia Kivipelto. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trialThe Lancet, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60461-5

Tips on How to Sleep Better

cute_sleeping_baby_1

One of the biggest boosts you can give your brain is a good night’s sleep.  Adequate sleep is vital to proper brain function.  Without it — our judgment, reaction time, memory and other brain functions may be impaired.  According to Dr. Mark Mahowald, a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, one night of lost sleep has the same impact in simulated driving tests as illegally high blood-alcohol levels.

Turn in early to give yourself 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night (this is considered average, though some people may need as few as 5 or as many as 10 hours.)  For many, falling asleep is a challenge.  Anxiety, stress, pain, interpersonal conflicts and medication all impact one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.  Luckily, sleep is a learned behaviour and you can change it.

7 Suggestions to Improve Your Sleep

  1. Cut down on caffeine – Even if you don’t stop it completely, reducing makes a difference.
  2. Get more exercise – Walk daily, you will notice a difference immediately.
  3. Listen to a soothing CD before bed.  Or try white noise to create a background.
  4. Take a warm bath before bed.
  5. Maintain a regular schedule. Going to bed and getting up around the same time help you develop a rhythm that can make falling asleep easier.
  6. Spruce up your sleeping area. A comfortable mattress, comfortable bedding and blackout curtains can make a world of difference.
  7. Use the bed for sleep, not channel or Internet surfing.

Make sure you bookmark our blog & check back often for more health & lifestyle tips!  Also, remember to keep challenging your brain by training with Fit Brains!

10 Quotes on Gratitude & Being Thankful

thankful4

Thanksgiving may be full of feasts & festivities, but it is important to remember the true meaning of this holiday.  Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, all about being thankful.

Thanksgiving is a day for everyone to reflect upon themselves and count their blessings.  We worry about many things on a daily basis and let obstacles and small difficulties in life consume us.  It is nice to have a day where we can slow down and acknowledge everything we have in life.  Having gratitude not only shows appreciation, but will help us become happier, more satisfied, healthier, and overall better people.

Here are 10 quotes from influential individuals on giving thanks & being thankful, we hope these will inspire you to celebrate Thanksgiving with gratitude!

 

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Meister Eckhart 

“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect towards others.”
Dalai Lama

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John F. Kennedy

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Epicurus

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
Maya Angelou

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
Alphonse Karr

“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
Alice Walker

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Oprah Winfrey

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
The Buddha

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”
Woody Allen

Happy Thanksgiving from the Fit Brains team!

thankful-thanksgiving-song-children

40 Healthy Alternatives to Sugar Cravings

fruit kebabs

We have compiled a list of 40 healthier alternatives you can reach for when the sugar cravings pounce.  Limit your children’s consumption of candy as well by offering them some of these treats instead!

  1. Fruit kebabs
  2. Berry salad
  3. Dried fruits
  4. Chewing gum
  5. A square or two of dark chocolate
  6. Home-made fruit & yogurt popsicles
  7. Mashed sweet potatoes
  8. Healthy smoothie
  9. Unsweetened Greek yogurt topped with fruits
  10. Low sugar frozen yogurt/Sorbet
  11. Light chocolate milk
  12. Peanut butter & jelly on whole wheat toast
  13. Pretzels dipped in melted dark chocolate
  14. Blended frozen bananas
  15. Baked apple stuffed with nuts & oats
  16. Fruit custard
  17. Frozen grapes
  18. Healthy muffins
  19. Trail mix
  20. Whole grain cinnamon raisin toast
  21. Light banana bread
  22. Oatmeal topped with brown sugar & cinnamon
  23. Hot cocoa made with low-fat milk
  24. Fruit spread on crackers
  25. Coconut water
  26. Dates
  27. Prunes
  28. Flavoured tea
  29. Water with lemon or orange slices
  30. Nuts with a little honey drizzled on top
  31. Sweet corn
  32. Cherry tomatoes
  33. Dill pickles
  34. Baby carrots
  35. Baked sweet potato or squash fries
  36. Popcorn mixed with bits of dark chocolate
  37. Healthy granola bars
  38. Chocolate flavoured rice cakes
  39. Light jello
  40. Low fat milk with a little honey

What do you eat when you crave something sweet?  Share with us in the comments below!

Fit Brains’ List of Happiness!

laughter

The Fit Brains team has created a List of Happiness!  Anyone who needs a little pick-me-up at anytime will just have to visit this list to break a smile 🙂

YOU can be a part of this list too…

What is one thing that triggers happiness in YOUR brain?  

Leave us your happy answer in the comments & we’ll add it to the list!

  • “Dancing keeps my body and mind happy and healthy” – Carol A. Keierleber
  • “MUSIC triggers happiness in my brain!” – Jordan Leo Yelle
  • “Books!” – Ulanda Dargis
  • “Spending time with my granddaughter” – Sharon Bylevedlt
  • “My pets” – Sylenda Harvey
  • “Meditation” – Ravel Viirsalu
  • “A hug” – Wendy Vanns
  • “Walk quickly 40 minutes/day” – Charles Eggerstedt
  • “Riding my bike to the local park to watch the sunset over the mountains” – Deane Alban
  • “Planting seeds” – Gail Asher Wells
  • “Seeing a smile” – Denise Gooch Orr