The brain and the mind are the source of all health and the master controllers of aging. The brain’s most fundamental function is to control the movement of the body. Without it, we would quickly go down the path to disease and death. Infact, the brain is one of the first organs to suffer if our daily movement is impeded. And, if we don’t protect our master controller, we may lose our memory and our ability to think – at which point it really wouldn’t make sense to extend our life anyway.
The Science of Brain Health
As science reveals the secrets of the three-pound CPU on top of your shoulders, we’re discovering the brain’s amazing resilience to changing conditions – what neuroscientists call “plasticity.” Your brain will provide optimal levels of cognition and memory as long as you maintain it under the following conditions:
- Use it.
- Keep enough blood flowing to provide the oxygen it needs to flourish.
- Feed it enough of the right nutrients.
For today, let’s focus on the first point.
Use It or Lose It: Mental Exercise for Brain Health
Our brains need a workout as much as our bodies do! But it doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, creating brain fitness can be as simple as reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, hanging out talking to friends, going to meetings, learning how to play a musical instrument, playing video games, or spending the evening dancing.
Anytime you perform an activity that’s different from your usual activities, you’re creating new neural pathways, and as you have probably already noticed, many exercises for your brain are also good for your body, but you can exercise your brain in easy ways as well.
Here’s an example to try: next time you’re at your computer, try moving the mouse with your opposite hand. It will probably feel as awkward as the first time you tried to tie your shoelaces! At the beginning, as your brain builds new pathways, it can be hard to use precise movements, and you’ll probably perform tasks more slowly but if you stick with it, you’ll improve.
You can do this throughout your daily life: brushing your teeth, doing laundry, sending text messages, cleaning up around the house.
Weight-Lifting for Your Brain
Brain exercise should be a part of your daily and weekly routine in the same way that physical exercise should be. Instead of thinking of brain exercise as a chore, think of it as an opportunity to enrich your life. We have access to more knowledge than at any time in human history, and we have hundreds of hobbies and activities to choose from.
Is there a book you’ve always wanted to read? Is there a skill you’ve always wanted to learn? How about a hobby that has captured your curiosity?
Embrace the joy of learning. It’s okay – and actually pretty fun – to be a total beginner at something. Pick up a paint brush or grab an instrument or learn a language. Your personal growth can become a big part of your life, both in terms of your quality of life and the health of your brain.
If you have been hesitant to take this step before, here’s the push: Go learn something new today.