Mental Activities for a Healthy BrainPosted by On


We all know that physical exercise is important to keep your body healthy, but did you know that mental exercise is just as important? Regularly exercising your brain with mentally stimulating activities is associated with better brain function (thinking skills and memory) as well as a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

How does mental activity affect the brain?

Studies in animal and humans have shown that learning creates new connections between brain cells, increasing what is called ‘brain reserve’. There are two parts to brain reserve:

Neurological brain reserve:

This is the increased brain volume (more cells) and increased number of synapses (connections between the brain cells). This reserve of brain cells and connections gives the brain a greater physical ability to overcome injury, as the ‘reserve’ cells and connections can take over the functions of damaged cells and synapses.

Behavioural brain reserve:

Also called ‘cognitive reserve’, this refers to a person’s ability to use flexible cognitive strategies to achieve the same result in a different way. This reserve also gives the brain a greater capacity to overcome injury because the tasks previously done by the damaged cells and synapses can be achieved by using different cognitive strategies performed by undamaged brain cells and connections.

This means that if a brain is affected by a disease such as Alzheimer’s that damages the brain cells and synapses, a high brain reserve may help the brain to continue to function well, delaying the onset of dementia symptoms.

How can I exercise my brain?
Although any brain exercise is better than not doing anything at all, the activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond your comfort zone. Here are some tips:

Be a lifelong learner: When you are learning something, you create new connections, increasing your brain reserve, so stay curious and involved.
Be open to new experiences that challenge you to see the world differently.
Commit to learning something new, even if it seems daunting at first.
Try crossword puzzles or other puzzles.
Attend lectures to learn something new.
Enrol in classes at your local adult education centre, or find out about short courses such as gardening, computers, cooking or yoga .
Play mentally-stimulating games and memory exercises.
Try a new hobby such as sewing, carpentry, painting or other crafts.
Read different genres of books, newspapers or magazines.
Try your hand at writing poetry, or keep a diary.
Play board or card games.
Join a club or community group.
Learn to dance, play a musical instrument or speak a new language.
Find a volunteer position that allows you to meet new people and experience new situations.
Make time to see your friends and try to meet new people too. Social isolation increases the risk for mental decline.
Choose a variety of activities that you enjoy, and that challenge your brain in different ways.

 

Physical activity and mental health

More and more studies show us that physical exercise benefits the brain as well as the body. Regular exercise promotes healthy blood vessels, improving blood flow to the brain and supplying it with the oxygen and glucose it needs to function well. Physical activity also encourages the growth and survival of nerve cells in the brain, contributing to ‘brain reserve’.

Physical activity is even better for your brain if it involves mental skill and balance, like racquet sports or golf.

Learning new things, whether through studying, at work or during leisure time, all contributes to challenging the mind throughout life and helping the brain to function more efficiently.

 

Summary

Regularly exercising your brain with mentally stimulating activities is associated with better brain function as well as a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
Studies in animal and humans have shown that learning creates new connections between brain cells, increasing what is called ‘brain reserve’.
A high brain reserve may help the brain to continue to function well, delaying the onset of dementia symptoms.
Although any brain exercise is better than not doing anything at all, the activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond your comfort zone.
More and more studies show us that physical exercise benefits the brain as well as the body.

 

Source

Mental

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