Keeping your mind healthy and sharp calls for a fitness routine all its own.
As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.
In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!
This week I’ll be sharing a few of the benefits of giving your brain a regular workout.
Staying physically fit and healthy is a process, and requires sticking to a fitness routine. There are a ton of benefits to working out regularly, like having more energy and reducing your risk of developing health issues down the road. Your physical fitness level can even help improve your brain fitness, both from a cognitive and mental health perspective.
But the fact that hitting the gym can be good for your mind doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be giving your brain a workout of its own. Challenging yourself mentally by learning new skills can help with neuroplasticity, and lessen the effects aging has on your cognitive abilities. The older you get, the more important brain fitness becomes.
Even for those of us lucky enough to avoid developing some form of dementia, things like memory and the ability to effectively multitask decrease as we age. And while it’s not possible to stop that decrease completely, there are things you can do to slow it down.
Brain training games are a great way to squeeze a quick mental workout into your day. There are quite a few apps available for you to download to your mobile device that offer fun ways to test your memory, reasoning, and focus. Lumosity is my brain training app of choice, and it’s something I use regularly.
Studies into just how effective these types of apps are when it comes to boosting brain fitness are ongoing and have come up with some promising results. While they’re far from an instant fix and will definitely not create a drastic change in the way your brain works, taking time to flex your mental muscles helps to keep your mind in shape.
Cognitive training helps to make small improvements to your mental prowess, allowing you to make better use of your memory and reasoning skills for longer – much the same way building muscle mass in your younger years makes it possible to retain more muscle as you age. And just like skipping the gym for a few months will undo a lot of the progress you made while you were working out on a regular basis, if you stop brain training once you notice an improvement, you’ll lose that progress, too.
Sticking with a routine is just as important for your brain fitness as it is for your physical fitness. Sitting down with a crossword or Sudoku puzzle can help stimulate your brain (although not to the same extent as brain training apps), and even video games that rely heavily on problem solving and fast-paced decision making mechanics have proven to be a great way to boost those same skills to a degree in your everyday life.
Puzzles and games that test your reasoning, reaction time, or hand-eye coordination can also have a positive impact on your cognitive function and help to keep your grey matter in good condition. Brain fitness is less about targeted exercises and more about keeping your mind stimulated.
Science says our brains start slowing down as early as our twenties, so if you think this isn’t something you need to think about until you’re eyeing up retirement, think again. Any little thing you can do starting today to add brain fitness to your daily routine will benefit you in the long run. And the earlier you start taking care of both your body and your brain, the better off you’ll be.
When you’re already trying to be smart about the kinds of foods you put into your body – which is a totally different type of brain training – and making an effort to get active, it just makes sense to go a step further and take care of your entire body.
There is no special dietary change to try and work into your routine, no supplements to take or specialized equipment to invest in. All you need is your smartphone, and you can already be well on your way to an overall improved you.