Five Brain Fit­ness Tips

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS -

(NAPSA)-Here’s an idea to think about: To stay men­tally sharp, sus­tained ef­fort is key. It takes work to keep a com­pli­cated or­gan such as your brain in op­ti­mum con­di­tion.

For­tu­nately, it doesn’t have to be com­pli­cated. You can fol­low these five sim­ple steps to keep your mind bright:

1. Change. By the time you reach re­tire­ment age, your brain has mas­tered many tasks. You have to think of cre­ative ways to sur­prise it. So change is vi­tal to brain health. Change your rou­tines, change your en­vi­ron­ment, make new friends, have dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tions, lis­ten to dif­fer­ent mu­sic, try new foods. List the most fa­mil­iar things in your life and then change them.

2. Think. Don’t let your brain get bored. Stim­u­late it with lots of new, re­fresh­ing in­for­ma­tion. Read ar­ti­cles, visit mu­se­ums, study a new topic or take up a new hobby. That awk­ward feel­ing you may re­mem­ber from your first day on the job is what you want to repli­cate. Try learn­ing a for­eign lan­guage or a

mu­si­cal in­stru­ment.

3. Move. Ex­perts agree that aer­o­bic ex­er­cise has the great­est ben­e­fit in terms of help­ing your brain stay young. En­cour­age im­por­tant blood flow to the brain by do­ing at least 21/2 hours of mod­er­ate aer­o­bic ac­tiv­ity (brisk walk­ing) each week. Start where you can and grad­u­ally build up from there. Set­ting small, monthly goals keeps your ef­forts fo­cused and on track.

4. Eat smart. Keep those ar­ter­ies-in your heart and your brain-from get­ting clogged with fat by eat­ing plenty of fruits, veg­gies and whole grains. Stick with healthy fats such as those in nuts, av­o­ca­dos and olive oil. In­clude plenty of lean protein and fiber to round things out. Try to fill half your plate at each meal with fruits and veg­eta­bles. They’re full of anti-ox­i­dants and sup­ply im­por­tant nu­tri­ents. Avoid white flour, gen­er­ally found in breads and pas­tries. Los­ing any ex­tra pounds can help, too. Main­tain­ing a healthy weight means a bet­ter chance at a healthy brain.

5. Be happy. Hu­man be­ings are so­cial crea­tures. The brain is de­signed to in­ter­act with oth­ers and de­rives great ben­e­fit from close re­la­tion­ships. When you’re happy, your brain is happy. When you’re stressed or de­pressed, your brain re­leases a chemical called cor­ti­sol. Cor­ti­sol in small doses is use­ful for alert­ness and con­cen­tra­tion. When it lingers, how­ever, it at­tacks the cells in the hip­pocam­pus, where mem­o­ries are formed. Get­ting plenty of sleep is also im­por­tant for re­lax­ing and re­new­ing the mind.

¥ Ms. Grotenhuis is a cer­ti­fied Brain Fit­ness Fa­cil­i­ta­tor with As­bury Com­mu­ni­ties, an ag­ing ser­vices or­ga­ni­za­tion. For more in­for­ma­tion on Brain Fit­ness, visit www.As­bury. org/Per­spec­tive.

Photo Den­nis Porem­ski

At any age, you can fol­low sev­eral strate­gies to keep your brain healthy, such as aer­o­bic ex­er­cise.

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