A Fitness Plan for the Brain — Part I of II

Disclaimer

All text that appears under the heading “Article Part I Excerpt” was written by Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, who is the author of Make Your Brain Smarter, founder and chief director of the Center for Brain Health, and a distinguished professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. The article, which is titled,”Why You Need to Put Your Brain on a Fitness Plan, Too” was written for the Center of Brain Health. Had Wendy not shared the article with me, I probably would not have seen it.

Article Part I Excerpt

A brain workout? Yep, it's a thing (Corbis)
A brain workout? Yep, it’s a thing (Corbis)

Fact: We are outliving our brains. Life expectancy in the United States today is about 80 years old. Girls have a one in three chance of living to 100, while boys have one in four. The problem? Our cognitive brain performance peaks in our early 40s. That means mental functions like memory, speed of thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, and decision-making decline in the last 30 or 40 years of life. Most people don’t consider their brain health until they’re faced with injury, disease, or simply getting old. But just as we’ve come to realize that we can improve our physical health through diet and exercise, we can improve our cognitive health too.  It’s simply a matter of engaging in the right mental workouts.

Science now strongly supports the fact that our brains are one of the most modifiable parts of our whole body. Our brains actually adapt from moment to moment, depending on how we use them; they either decline or improve, and which direction they go depends on us and the way we challenge them.

Our research team at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas is working on how to improve brain performance at all ages, and our findings show that making our brains stronger, healthier, and more productive requires actually changing the way we use them every single day.  And that’s where daily changes come in. We all must first abandon toxic habits that are depleting brain resources, and also incorporate complex thinking into our daily routines. Ready to make your brain smarter? Here are a few scientifically proven ways to do it.

Tip 1. Quiet Your Mind — “Don’t make any rash decisions!” Somewhere along the line, we’ve all been given that advice, and it actually applies to your brain too, which can often better solve complex problems when you step away to reflect on ideas and crucial decisions rather than acting without weighing choices. A halt in constant thinking slows your mind’s rhythms, allowing it to refresh. Employ a “Five by Five” principle where you take a break from whatever you’re doing five times a day for at least five minutes to reset your brain. When we let our brain work behind the scenes, we have our best “aha” moments. And don’t we all want more of those?

The second (final) part of this post will be available on 2/20/2014.

Call to Action

In the comment box below this post, please share the ways in which you quiet your mind.

Credits

Thanks to Wendy for sharing the article with me; Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, author of “Make Your Brain Smarter,” founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth, and a Distinguished University Professor at The University of Texas at Dallas; and all the other people and organization that, directly and indirectly, made it possible for me to include the pictures and text I used in this post.

8 Comments

  1. I work out all of the time. I TRY to work on my brain… Being a 46 yr old TBI survivor, I know it’s just as important as working out my body. I become easily frustrated w/ soduku & crosswords, which, (I know…) are great ways to ‘work out your brain…’ I think to NOT GIVE UP is key… Meditation (quieting your brain,) I’m GOOD @ THAT! 🙂

    1. Shawn,

      There is not one solution that works best for everyone. I like Sudoku and Mind Benders, but I recognize that some people do not. One of the most important tips, as you mentioned, is not to give up. Meditation is a great solution. I did not meditate or visualize as often as I could have, but I recognize the healing power of belief and relaxation.

  2. I take several breaks throughout the day at the office by going to a different floor to get ice water. This take a few minutes and gets me away from my desk, gets the blood flowing a bit by walking, and makes sure I’m hydrated. Thanks for sharing on Sako’s FB group. I look forward to reading part 2.

  3. Is there a download for an android phone for this station? I would love to just listen to that way when my brain is getting all fogged up.

    1. Missie,

      The radio station is not part of this blog so I do not know what features it offers. You might want to search for the station online to see what its listeners can and cannot do. I was concerned about releasing any comment about the radio station because I thought readers would incorrectly assume I had any control of the station.

  4. On radio tuna dot com they have a meditation music radio channel. I like to listen to that while my mind tries to slip into overdrive. My favorite self talk is – everything is going to be okay. By telling myself that my mind shifts into – how can I make it better?
    Then I release the thought because I know my mind is working on a solution. That is a much safer thought process than most of the alternatives.
    It is imperative to have faith in your being, know that you have the power. Once you believe the miracles just keep happening.

    1. Deb,

      Thank you for sharing your suggestions.

      I have not listened to the radio station you mentioned, but I will listen to it shortly after I send this reply.

      Your self talk is a great example of positive thinking. Intuitively, we all know things could be much worse. Sometimes, it helps to remind ourselves that “everything will be okay.” ~ Scott

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