Many people are willing to devote much time and effort to ensuring that they remain in top physical condition, be it by working out in the gym, or eating a healthy, balanced diet. However, one area that often escapes notice is brain fitness. While its effects may not be as visible as physical fitness, exercising your brain can have many benefits, including improving memory, reducing the risk of disease and increasing brain processing speed.
While brain fitness may conjure images of complex mathematical equations or slogging through a long novel, it can actually be achieved using very simple means. Here are 3 simple methods that can help you keep your brain in fighting condition.
Learn a Song
Listening to music can be an effective and enjoyable way to exercise your brain. Choose a song that you like but do not yet know off by heart. When you listen to this song, pay careful attention to the lyrics and attempt to memorize them. Play the song over and over, until you have all the words memorized and can confidently sing along to it.
This exercise will help improve your listening skills and memory. The process of learning a song requires high focus and attention, which can lead to increased release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a chemical that acts as a 'messenger' in the brain; it can improve memory and keep the brain malleable and open to new experiences.
Feed Your Brain
Diet is important for brain health as well as physical health. There are certain foodstuffs that can deliver an extra boost to your brain, so including these 'brain foods' in your daily diet can go a long way toward keeping your brain in shape.
Oily fish, such as mackerel and herring, contain large amounts of the essential fatty acid Omega-3. While a 'fatty acids' may sound unhealthy, they are in fact very important for brain health. Furthermore, fatty acids cannot be made by the body, so they must come from our diets. Dark chocolate (in small amounts) contains antioxidants that help protect the brain from disease, and can also boost the levels of dopamine, a chemical that aides learning and memory.
Let Your Brain Rest at Night
A good night's sleep is vitally important for your brain, as this allows it to restore and recharge. The best way to ensure your brain gets the rest it needs is to limit your blue light exposure at night. Blue light, which is emitted by most artificial light sources such as phones, computers and street lamps, suppresses the production of a chemical called melatonin, which is important for deep, quality sleep.
It is possible to purchase screen-protectors for your devices that reduce blue light emittance (by replacing it with harmless red and yellow light), but the best way to reduce your exposure to blue light and improve sleep quality is by reducing the usage of phones, laptops and TVs after sunset.