Your brain is involved in all aspects of day-to-day living, and the long, slow decline of “brain power” is NOT inevitable. Every human brain is wired differently, so part of our life journey is coming to understand our wiring so we work with our brain to learn, not against it. Within those differences in how we learn, what commonalities are there that will help us to retain what our brains already know and enable us to continue to learn?
Exercise is the most important key. Neurons are brain cells that work (like the brain as a whole), to accept information, process it, then perform some action in response to that information. Neuron production can be increased via activity, in particular cardio activity. More neurons means a better memory, a greater ability to be attentive, and a higher capacity to learn and retain information. Therefore, strong, active bodies and pumping hearts are crucial for building and maintaining (barring disease) strong, active minds.
Research has shown a profound and positive effect on those over 65 that exercise regularly in regard to their cognitive function, including executive function (the mental skills to get things done.) Why? Increased oxygen flow to the brain reduces free radicals and improves mental clarity.
Another key is the brain’s need for sufficient sleep. Loss of sleep changes our ability to pay attention, our mood, our reasoning, and motor dexterity. We all need at least 7 hours of sleep every 24 hours to maintain our brain power.
Stress that is unaddressed and chronic actually shrinks the brain and damages memory, motor skills, sleep patterns, and your immune system. You only have one brain- your work and social brain is also your home brain, so what stresses you in one environment can’t help but carry over into the other, so healthy brains require healthy emotions, environments, and relationships.
Here’s to our wonderful, hard working, brains!
Emmy, 4, Grant 2, Lyla 2, Simon 6 months won’t have fully developed brains until they’re 25! I still think they’re pretty smart.