Looking for a way to improve your brain health and stay sharp this year? You don’t have to set huge goals for yourself. Start small. Make little improvements or add new things in gradually throughout the year. Sometimes if we make the goal too big or too complex we become frustrated or lose our drive to accomplish it. Here are some suggestions. (Don’t feel like you have to do the whole list. Choose 1 or 2 to start).
- Eat Breakfast
Low glucose levels affect the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for our executive control function. When levels fall, our thinking becomes confused and foggy. In other words, you need food for thought. Glucose also influences the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that is necessary for learning and memory
- Get Moving
Find something you LIKE to do that is active. It doesn’t have to be P90X to benefit your brain. Take walks, dance or play games that get you moving. Telegruv and Ogosport are some fun options. Research has shown that exercise increases the diameter of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain, allowing greater delivery of oxygen to your neurons. It can stimulate the growth of connections between those neurons (known as synapses). It can also decrease your risk of dementia and reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Do Something New
The brain loves novelty. Doing something new can mean taking a class or exploring new neighborhoods. Try new restaurants, take a different route to work, cook new dishes or learn a new game. Break some of your old routines. Novelty, Complexity and Variety strengthen your cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve can shield you from the effects of cognitive disease and decline.
- Start a Game Night
Pick a night once a week or once a month to play games with your family or a group of friends. Studies show that playing interactive games has a significant effect on cognitive performance, particularly working memory, for people in all age groups.