Brain Fitness

Brain Fitness

Brain fitness is just as important for optimal or enhanced brain activity as physical fitness is for the muscles of the body.

For example, if the muscles of the body are not used, if they have inadequate nutrition, if harmful substances are consumed, and if they are not challenged, either loss of functional capabilities and/or atrophy will occur.

Personal Story. Many years ago there was an older man who would often come into the place where I worked. He was funny and witty, always very nice, but the thing that I remember about him was his arm. His right arm was tiny, all shriveled and pathetic looking. He carried it in a high sling so that his little useless hand was always near his face.

I never did find out what had happened to make his arm like that, but every time I think that a muscle has the possibility to atrophy, I think of that man.

The result of lack of exercise of any muscle is:

  • weakness
  • inability to do what you want
  • lost body energy
  • it may even affect the body systems
  • lead to a weakened immune system
  • even lead to a decrease in the ability to think clearly or quickly

The fact is that we all get older and with that aging process, everything about the muscles becomes vulnerable to decreased development, decreased function, and decreased flexibility. The bottom line is that the muscles of the body need to be continually exercised.

This is true of the brain. Both physical and mental brain fitness is very important. The saying that we have all heard, "If you don't use it you will lose it", applies to the brain just as it does to any other muscle of the body.

Nutrition. The number one thing to do is to be certain that we are eating a nutritious diet which includes herbs and adequate water level consumption. Harmful and/or abusive substances will destroy neurons and should be avoided at every cost.

If your nutrition is not adequate, everything else you do towards attaining brain fitness and development will be hampered.

The strong healthy brain you are hoping for may not happen.

Brain Fitness. Brain fitness includes many different aspects. Besides nutrition:

All of it's functions need to be used and developed regularly.

Exercise. "No Matter What Your Problem, Exercise is Part of the Answer." You know I love this quote, I have used it often on this website. I repeat it often to myself when I find something else going wrong with me. I believe it with all my heart.

A Study. Actually there was a study recently done that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which people that were in their 60s simply walked around a track for 40 minutes three times a week.

By doing nothing but this, the size of the hippocampus, which is the memory part of the brain, increased 2% in just one year! This is amazing! People didn't believe this could happen a few years back. In brain age it is like turning the clock back two years!

Before making brain fitness suggestions, let's talk some more about the things we know relative to the brain. Even though there is still a great deal to learn about the brain, how it works and how to keep it operating at optimal levels, there are still many things we now know that disprove the limited understanding of the past.

Some of the old ideas might actually discourage, or de-motivate us from doing all we need to do to keep the master mind working at it's best. Let's look at a few:

  • We Only Use 10% of Our Brain. It was taught and thought even just a few years ago that we use only 10% of our brain. The truth is that we use 100% of our brain. If the old percentage were true you could remove 90% of the brain and still be okay. Of course that is absurd. Also consider the fact that with only a small percentage of the brain being damaged, as in the case of a stroke or with other Central Nervous System diseases, major consequences would result.
  • Brain Damage Is Permanent. It was taught until a few years ago that brain damage was permanent and that the brain could not make new cells.

    The fact is that in many cases the brain can repair itself. Two terms currently used are plasticity of the brain and nurogenesis. The current belief is that the brain can physically change over the course of a lifetime.

    Some parts of our brains are just like a newborn baby's brain and is able to grow new connections as well as strengthen existing connections. We have the ability to learn new things our entire life.

    It is thought that it does this by reordering connections between neurons, thus making more effecient neural circuitry, by changing the chemicals that are used at those connections, and by using other areas of the brain to assume functions that were once used by damaged tissues in the brain.

    By doing new things the brain is forced to adapt. Therefore, the idea of increasing motor control in the brain by learning to play the piano or knit or other manual dexterity activities, really works.

  • I have a close friend who learned to knit specifically for her brain fitness. She makes the best dishrags! I love getting a couple for Christmas every year.

  • Age Causes Memory Loss. The idea that as we get older we lose our memory, our thinking becomes sluggish, and we have blocks in problem solving, doesn't have to be true.

    There are several factors that have to be considered when we look at memory loss. Drugs, whether prescribed, over-the-counter, or illegal, disease, general health, as well as genetics are a few.

    If we were to establish an excellent diet and include good brain foods along with fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and include physical exercise to improve blood flow to the brain, then memory loss is not inevitable.

    It is true that as people get older they tend to become more sedentary but that is by choice, as the example above shows.

    Many studies show that exercise increases brain power and that engaging in aerobic exercise at least twice a week reduces the risk of general dementia by 50% and Alzheimer's by 60%! That's impressive!

    By giving both the brain and the body a regular workout we might be surprised at what our brains can do.

  • Smart People Have Big Brains. The idea has prevailed that the larger the brain the smarter the person. This isn't true. There are people who have large brains but don't use them and others with smaller brains who achieve far more of their potential because they do use their brains.

So, with the mental barriers removed so that progress can take place, it becomes important that we actually do something about it.

The object is to keep the body and brain working at optimal levels. If areas begin to slow down, it is critically important to do things that will help to revive those areas before further damage is done.

The object of this page is to encourage continual work toward brain fitness and continued brain development. The idea is to challenge the brain, make it work, and to do it regularly.

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Brain Facts

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