Six Brain Boosting Activities


13 Jun
13Jun

Getting neurofeedback is a fantastic way to enhance your brain's resilience and flexibility.  But there are also lots of activities you can add that will also help stave off cognitive decline.  Here are six activities or lifestyle choices that will help your brain stay as sharp as possible.


Exercise

Turns out, using your muscles helps your mind. Exercise, especially intense cardio-vascular workouts, increases blood flow, which increases the number of capillaries that bring oxygen-rich blood to the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for complex decision making, planning and social moderation. Exercise also spurs the development of new neurons and increases the synaptic connections between brain cells. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, and reduces mental stress, both of which help your brain.

 Meditation



Meditating has a positive effect on your brain.  A 2015 Harvard study found that long-term meditators had increased gray matter in the sensory areas of the brain and volunteers who underwent an 8 week mindfulness based meditation had a measurable increase in brain volume.  This is encouraging since the brain shrinks as we age, and this is linked to diminished cognitive function.  



Deep Breathing


Deep breathing oxygenates the blood, and thus the brain.  Deliberate, deep breathing not only activates regions of the brain that you don't have access to normally, it also sends a message to the brain to initiate the parasympathetic nervous system, which we can think of as the "rest and digest" nervous system associated with the vagus nerve.


Build Social Networks

A study of older adults and social networks shows that social support networks may contribute to may have a positive influence on cognition and a protective association with the development of dementia among older adults. Conversely,  isolation and a lack of mental stimulation are accelerating factors in cognitive decline.  Whether you choose to exercise with a group, volunteer in your community, or spend time with friends and family, making social interaction a priority will improve mood (most of the time) and protect your brain.

Read a book

Reading fiction isn't just entertaining and transporting, it may also improve your brain function.  Reading fiction, and being absorbed in the story appears to improve the reader's ability to put themselves in others' shoes, much like an athlete accesses muscle memory, called embodied cognition.  In addition, because reading is a complex activity, it requires many areas of the brain to be activated.  In a study conducted at Emory University, researchers found that participants who had altered neural connections after reading. 


Sleep

A good night's sleep is essential to proper brain function.  When the brain is able to rest, the prefrontal cortex (which deals with self-control) and the amygdala (emotions) can properly communicate to regulate emotions.  But one of the most important functions is to solidify and process memory.  By improving sleep hygiene, you give the brain adequate resources to regulate memory, emotion and other important functions.  Some basic strategies to improve your chances of a good night's sleep: go to bed at the same time every night, try to make your room as dark and quiet as possible and remove electronic devices from your bedroom.


Adding even a few of these activities could pay big benefits to your brain.  Many people seek out neurofeedback because activities like meditation or concentration are difficult.  Contact Peak Training Center to discuss how neurofeedback can help you enhance your brain's resilience.



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