BE ACTIVE & RETAIN BETTER CLARITY OF THOUGHT
How activity can improve thinking, memory & remove brain fog
Staying ‘on your toes’ is the expression meaning that we’re directing our energy to focus on what we’re doing. Which is not a bad thing to do, given we’re living in this crazy, busy, super-fast world where it is critical to ensure that we get all our tasks done and with fewer mistakes. It turns out that staying on our toes is also exactly what provides the best activity to retain greater clarity of thought.
WE THINK BETTER ON OUR FEET.
Several studies have looked at the neurocognitive benefits of standing when learning. One such study in 2016 showed how the use of standing desks improved executive function and working memory in high school students, indicating how changing our environment is a simple way to enhance cognitive function and effective learning.
SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING.
We sit way too much. While sitting is not harmful, sitting for prolonged periods of time reduces blood flow to our head and thus reduces our ability to think well. It’s about moving more and sitting less. Increasing physical activity by one hour has been shown to improve cognitive function, even in the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.
REDUCE BRAIN SHRINKAGE BY SITTING LESS.
A new study has revealed the more we sit, we greater the amount of shrinkage that occurs in the area of the brain that is important to the formation of new memory and learning. In this small study the researchers noted that increased sedentary behaviour was a significant predictor of thinning of the brain that could be offset by increasing physical activity. Brain atrophy is associated with ageing, but why choose to add to this by remaining too sedentary? It’s time to move more.
CHANGE YOUR WORKING ENVIRONMENT.
Whatever your role, look for ways to stand up more during the day and help retain greater clarity of thought. An increasing number of companies now provide the option of working by using a variable height desk. If your boss remains to be convinced, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and choose to stand: • when on the phone • when having a face to face conversation • when attending a meeting • when meeting a colleague for lunch of coffee • when reading.
CHANGE WHAT YOU DO AT HOME.
It’s been estimated that many of us spend around 4-5 hours per day being sedentary at home watching TV or Netflix and
interacting with our digital technology. This adds up to sitting for two months of the year! Try totting up how much time you spend sitting per day on leisure activities and then look for how you could reduce this time. Keep asking yourself – where could I be standing more? How can I sit less and move more?
TO BE MORE ACTIVE, YOU COULD:
1. Choose to stand while watching a screen. 2. Put the treadmill or exercise bike in front of the TV. 3. Choose to switch off from your technology for an hour each evening and undertake some physical activity instead. 4. Park and walk, whenever you can. 5. Try an activity tracker - it’s a powerful motivator to help you reach your activity target. 6. Be grateful for being kept waiting in line – it’s an opportunity to be on your feet. When it comes to improving brain health and function, it’s often the little things we do that help us to ‘stay on our toes’. Be active and retain greater clarity of thought.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a Medical Practitioner and specialises in the science of high performance thinking. Jenny’s approach to overcoming life’s challenges is based on practical neuroscience which enables people to understand their thoughts and actions leading to effective behavioural change. Jenny is the author of ‘Future Brain - the 12 Keys to Create Your High-Performance Brain’ and may be contacted via her website.