When you think of a healthy person, what's the first thing that comes to mind? The muscles on their body? The way they eat? While these are surefire indicators of a person's health, they aren't the only factors separating the healthy from the sick. Did you know your brain is a muscle, too, and that it needs to be trained the same way you might train your quads and biceps?
Brain plasticity and your ability to learn
There's a reason people are not considered wise in the early years of their lives. While a 17-year-old football player may have muscles larger than most full-grown men will ever achieve, his brain has not yet developed to the degree a 60-year-olds has. Brain plasticity is the brain's ability to learn and grow as you age, but to maximize its potential, you have to train it regularly – the same way a bodybuilder must bench press, deadlift, and squat.
Three ways you can start to develop your brains muscles are:
- Meditation. Meditation is a proven way to build clarity and serenity by letting go of the stress that binds you. By taking a few minutes every day to relax and become one with your inner self, you can create space in your mind. This space gives you the ability to see things more clearly, especially when stressors such as work, family, and chores cloud your daily thoughts. Consider trying an app like Calm or Headspace to help you get started. If you aren't into that sort of thing, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and relax for a few minutes every day. You may surprise yourself with the relief you find, the extra sleep you get, and your newfound ability to concentrate and focus.
- Physical exercise. While those who are physically fit don't always have the strongest minds, they train their brains without even knowing it. Here's how it works: when you exercise, you increase your heart rate. This, in turn, increases blood flow, increasing the flow of oxygen throughout the body. It helps us release endorphins and transfer vital nutrients to muscles in the body – including the brain.
- Mind games. Did you know that playing mind games can decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease? That's how powerful mind training can be. Challenging your mind can improve select brain skills that play a crucial role in maintaining overall brain health. When you find yourself bored while sitting in front of your computer, try opening a mind game, like chess or solitaire, to stimulate the brain muscle. It will pass the time, you'll have some fun, and you'll be getting a workout all in one!
Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to our viewers' health and well-being, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we'll bring you information about the "Cause of the Month," including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. September is Healthy Aging Month.