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How to Keep Your Brain FIT
You’ve heard that crossword puzzles and gingko biloba can help keep your mind sharp. But recent studies show that what really helps your brain is physical activity.
Yes, the same exercises that support the heart, lungs, immune system and muscles also help bolster the brain’s capacity for memory, planning, scheduling, multitasking and other cognitive skills that typically decline with aging.
So, what kind of exercise does your brain like?
Cardiovascular and strength training spur a healthy increase in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, sometimes resulting in a syndrome known as a runner’s high.
Don’t skimp on your intake of carbs when you perform endurance exercise – simple sugar, or glucose, is the only energy the brain can use. Hitting the wall is a result of no sugar reaching the brain. However, too much blood sugar can also drain your brain of energy. A balance of carbs is best: some simple sugars that are used right away and some complex that last over time.
Stretching, yoga or any activity increasing circulation stimulates the development of brain cells and the formation of blood vessels – which is important, because your brain relies on 100,000 miles of blood vessels to fire its 100 billion neurons.
Exercises such as windmill toe touches that cross the midline of your body facilitate a right and left brain collaboration – because each limb is governed by its opposite brain hemisphere. Just be sure to hold your torso tight to keep your spine stabilized when you twist.
Visually stimulating environments, such as exercising outdoors, increase cell development in the learning centers of the brain.
No matter what the exercise, be sure to stay hydrated! After all, your brain is 75% water.