Mental Aerobics: 75 Ways to Keep Your Brain Fit

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The US military finds meditation helps troops deal with stress, improves their cognitive resilience, and increases their ability to focus. Over 1, published studies have demonstrated the health benefits of meditation. The mental benefits of meditation include stress reduction, improved memory, learning ability and mood, increased focus and attention, and even reversal of brain atrophy.

No discussion on brain exercise would be complete without emphasizing the importance of physical exercise for the brain. Physical exercise might just be the most important thing you can do to keep your brain in good shape. It may be even more important than using your brain to think! Physical exercise can help you pay attention, learn and think faster , and remember more.

One huge study on over 1 million young, healthy men found it actually raised IQ. Exercise makes you more effective and productive by improving creativity, mental flexibility, concentration, ability to manage time, and decision making. Exercising can make you happier, both now and in the long run. It can help you control your emotions, pull yourself out of bad moods, and be more emotionally resilient.

Physical exercise can make you less anxious and less prone to stress-induced depression. A landmark Duke University study found that exercise worked even better than the popular antidepressant Zoloft. Exercise boosts energy, spurs enthusiasm, and encourages you to have more fun and be playful.

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Self-esteem and libido improve to make you feel more attractive, regardless of your age. Exercising provides an immediate boost to self-control to help you overcome bad habits. Exercise can even lessen withdrawal symptoms when quitting addictive substances. Of course, exercise builds muscle and can help you maintain a healthy weight, but it particularly attacks hidden visceral fat that unattractive belly fat.

This kind of fat is linked to a cluster of diseases and health conditions, including brain atrophy. People with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD are 5 times more likely than average to experience chronic insomnia. By simply getting better sleep, many people experience substantial relief from their symptoms. Walking is particularly beneficial for the brain, as are exercises with a strong mind-body connection like yoga, qigong, and tai chi.

Mental Aerobics: 75 Ways To Keep Your Brain Fit

Compared to indoor exercise, exercising outdoors increases vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure, and self-esteem while lowering tension, depression, and fatigue. This is the best collection of up-to-date, expert advice we've found. And it's free. Hobbies can act as a natural antidepressant and may protect against brain aging. If you still need some more ideas, check out this list of hobbies on Discoverahobby. Developers of brain training programs like Lumosity, BrainHQ, and Fit Brains promise everything from a better memory to increased IQ, but you should be skeptical of these claims.

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The experts are divided on whether brain training works in healthy adults. And even scientists that support brain training acknowledge that brain exercise companies overstate their claims and that most brain training studies have been substandard. The Brain Test Britain study is by far the largest computer-based brain training study so far with over 60, participants.

One of the study designers, Dr. Adrian Owen of the University of Cambridge, made this indictment:. Brain training is only as good as spending six weeks using the internet. There is no meaningful difference. The Brain Test Britain study results were published in the prestigious science journal Nature. The average person already spends 10 hours every day staring at screens. It seems likely that brain training is not the best use of your time when you could be engaged in other activities that are more rewarding and challenging instead.

Another drawback of commercial brain training programs is that they rely almost exclusively on sight, when ideally, you should be engaging in activities that use all of your senses.

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Take that 20 minutes you would have spent on brain training to exercise, meditate, visit a friend, or engage in your favorite pastime instead. Above all, remember that learning real life skills is the best way to enhance your brain power. What You'll Learn Here. Eat with Chopsticks This will force you to eat mindfully which is good for your brain, digestion, and calorie consumption. Are you The right brain supplement can help reverse all this.

Any supplement we endorse must be effective, safe, and a good value. Several important findings resulted from this study: Intelligence is fluid and can be increased with the right stimulus.

The gains are dependent on the amount of training, i. Still, the work builds on several other studies that suggest a powerful tie between exercise and brain health. For a small study published at the beginning of March in the journal Aging Cell , researchers looked at amateur male and female cyclists aged 55 to They compared those individuals with 75 people of a similar age who rarely or never exercised.

The cyclists were found to have more muscle mass and strength, and lower levels of body fat and cholesterol than the sedentary adults. The athletic adults also appeared to have healthier and younger-looking immune systems, at least when it came to a key organ called the thymus. The thymus is responsible for generating key immune cells called T cells. In healthy people, it begins to shrink starting around age 20, and T cell production also starts to drop off around that time. The study found that the thymus glands of the older cyclists looked like they belonged to younger people — their bodies were producing just as many T cells as would be expected from the thymus of a young person.

It was initially believed that when it comes to building muscle, cardio paled in comparison to exercises like resistance training, which are designed to help you gain strength. Aerobic workouts, especially swimming, train your body to use oxygen more efficiently , a practice that gradually reduces your resting heart rate and your breathing rate — two important indicators of cardiovascular health. A study compared blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other heart health metrics across close to 46, walkers, runners, swimmers, and sedentary people.

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The researchers found that the regular swimmers and runners had the best metrics , followed closely by the walkers. Many of us become less active as we get older. Over time, this can lead some muscles in the heart to stiffen. One of those at-risk muscles is in the left chamber of the heart, a section that plays a key role in supplying the body with freshly-oxygenated blood. A recent study split 53 adults into two groups, one of which did two years of supervised exercise four to five days per week while the other simply did yoga and balance exercises. At the end of the study, published in January in the journal Circulation , the higher-intensity exercisers saw significant improvements in their heart's performance.

Those results suggest that some stiffening in the heart can be prevented or even reversed with regular cardio. Aerobic exercise "has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress," according to an article in the Harvard Medical School blog "Mind and Mood. The reason aerobic workouts lift our spirits seems related to their ability to reduce levels of natural stress hormones , such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to a recent study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.

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Activities like running and swimming also increase overall blood flow and provide our minds fresh energy and oxygen — another factor that could help us feel better. A small study published in November suggests that cardio exercise changes the makeup of the microbes in our gut. Those microbes play a role in inflammation levels, which can be an early warning sign of illness.

The researchers had study participants exercise three to five times per week for six weeks, and observed increases in their concentrations of butyrate, a type of fatty acid that helps keep our guts happy by tamping down on inflammation and producing energy. A large recent review of research on how cardio affects cholesterol levels looked at 13 studies on the topic. It found that aerobic exercise was tied with reductions in LDL, which is also known as "bad" cholesterol because it can build up on the walls of your arteries and raise your risk of heart disease.

Regular exercise for the overs 'sharpens the mind' - NHS

Cardio exercise was also linked with increases in HDL, also known as "good" cholesterol because it mobilizes the cholesterol in your blood. Several studies have found that cardio exercise helps people both prevent Type 2 diabetes and manage its symptoms — mostly by improving the way the body uses blood sugar. A large Chinese study found that even modest changes in aerobic exercise 20 minutes of mild or moderate activity, 10 minutes of strenuous activity, or just 5 minutes of very strenuous activity times per day cut participants' diabetes risk by close to half.

A single session of cardio has been found to increase insulin action and glucose tolerance for more than 24 hours; one week of it can improve whole-body insulin sensitivity. A study from researchers at McMaster University found that people over age 40 who engaged in regular cardio activity tended to have healthier skin than their sedentary peers. The overall composition of the regular exercisers' skin was more comparable to that of and year-olds.

It's not yet clear why our workouts appear to play a role in skin health, but the researchers found elevated levels of a substance critical to cell health called IL in skin samples of participants after exercise. That finding that could shed light on why cardio seems to make our skin look better. In addition to boosting the moods of healthy people, aerobic exercise may have a uniquely powerful positive impact on people with depression. In a pilot study, people with severe depression spent 30 minutes walking on treadmill for 10 consecutive days. The researchers found the activity was "sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.