Healthy Habits

Use it or Lose it

Content provided by the Health & Wellness Team at GBS Benefits

Exercise for the mind is just as important as exercise for the body. The phrase “use it or lose it” certainly applies to the skills and knowledge being stored by the brain. Below are some exercises to keep mental “muscles” in tip-top shape.

Exercise regularly: “The best thing for memory is exercise,” says Rick Huganir, Ph.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Department of Neuroscience. Although researchers aren’t clear just how it works, the benefit may be related to increased blood flow to the brain, which strengthens connections between memory-forming cells. Or it may be that exercise triggers the release of certain brain chemicals, including growth factors that are also important in stimulating these connections.

Get plenty of sleep: Sleep plays an important role in your brain health. Some theories state that sleep helps clear abnormal proteins in your brain and consolidates memories, which boosts your overall memory and brain health. Aim for seven to eight hours of consecutive sleep if possible. Create a relaxing environment and sleep routine to prepare your body and mind for sleep.

Eat a Mediterranean diet: Your diet plays a large role in your brain health. Consider following a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats, such as olive oil. It incorporates less red meat and salt than a typical American diet.

Remain socially involved: Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to connect with loved ones, friends, and others, especially if you live alone. Research links solitary confinement to brain atrophy, so remaining socially active may have the opposite effect and strengthen the health of your brain.

Stay intellectually engaged: Fun exercises and puzzles are a great way to exercise memory and problem-solving skills. Research shows regularly completing puzzles and mind games can help keep your brain sharp with improved attention and reasoning. Reading, playing cards, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, playing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, or completing word searches are easy ways of boosting memory and focus. Experiment with things that require manual dexterity and mental efforts, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts. Can you answer the following riddles? (see answers at end of article)

  1. What 5-letter word typed in all capital letters can be read the same upside down?
  2. I am easy to lift, but hard to throw. What am I?
  3. What goes up, but never comes down?




Riddle Answers: 1) SWIMS; 2) A feather; 3) Age

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