Far too many of us zero in on the body and forget about the brain. If you want to perform at a high level for as long as possible, training your brain is not just a helpful add-on — it’s essential.
As you grow, your brain develops millions of neural pathways that help you process and recall information quickly, problem-solve, and execute tasks with a minimal mental effort. If you always stick to these well-worn paths and avoid challenging yourself mentally, you don’t give your brain the stimulation it needs to keep growing and developing.
This becomes especially important as we age and our cognitive function begins to decline over time. Here's how you can keep your brain young as you age:
1. Get Cognitive Exercise Regularly:
Mental stimulation or cognitive exercises have been shown to stimulate and strengthen neural connections in the brain. This helps to develop and maintain neural plasticity and enhances the ability to learn at any age.
2. Physical Exercise Benefits Your Brain, Too:
Regular exercise increases heart rate and encourages oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain and promotes plasticity by stimulating new neural connections. Exercise can also lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar levels, decrease cholesterol levels, and reduce stress which all have positive effects on brain health.
3. Focus on Proper Nutrition:
Multiple studies report that a diet high in processed foods or sugar can lead to impaired cognitive function. Incorporate lean, organic, and local proteins and try a variation of nutrient-rich vegetables for a balanced diet and improved cognitive function.
4. Get The Sleep You Need:
Sleep deprivation can lead to impaired memory, poor decision-making skills, and decreased concentration and overtime will have permanent consequences for brain health. Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night and limit screen time at least 30 minutes prior to bed.
5. Practice Meditation or Mindfulness Regularly:
Practicing mindfulness or meditation has been shown to have positive effects on the hippocampus and other key areas of the brain. Meditation not only reduces anxiety and stress, but also improves cognitive function.
6. Avoid Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco:
All of these substances can reduce cognitive function and should be avoided in order to keep your brain healthy and highly-functioning.
Everything we know at this time says that giving your brain adequate rest and exercise is essential, and thankfully, science has identified several ways in which you enable your brain to get what it needs. By taking charge of your rest, your actions, and your thoughts, you can give your brain what it needs to stay at its peak as you age.