Healthy Habits & The Nervous System
1 AnswerAARP answeredYou should take an afternoon catnap. Most of the concentration and memory benefits we get from sleep happen in the first stage, so even a snooze as short at 30 minutes can benefit your brain.
3 AnswersDr. Daniel G. Amen, MD , Psychiatry, answeredPhysical exercise boosts blood flow to your brain, quickly delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your neurons. Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your brain healthy and sharp -- plus it encourages new brain cell growth. If you are feeling tired, cranky or having a hard time focusing, just take a brisk walk! Have you ever heard the term, “runner’s high?” It really is possible to feel that good, just from exercise! Exercise immediately boosts focus and mood while helping to reducing anxiety and cravings for food or other substances. It truly is the closest thing to a “happiness pill” that you will ever find.
These conditions are particularly influenced by exercise:
Mood and Depression: Activating the same pathways in the brain as morphine, exercise stimulates the release of our feel-good neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Research shows that people who are depressed are more likely to be overweight, and conversely, that weight problems increase the risk for depression. Getting regular exercise will help you to get depression under control and lose the extra pounds—also boosting self-esteem and confidence -- all at once!
Anxiety: Physical activity of just about any kind and at any intensity level can soothe anxiety. In particular, high-intensity aerobic activity has been shown to reduce the incidence of panic attacks.
Focus and Attention: Vigorous exercise boosts brain blood flow and oxygenation, which immediately improves focus and concentration abilities. For those with ADD/ADHD, vigorous daily exercise is a must.
Sleep: Regular exercise is extremely beneficial for insomnia, but don’t do it within 4 hours of hitting the sack. Vigorous exercise late in the evening may be too energizing and keep you awake.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Studies show that exercise is helpful for boosting blood flow and activity in the parts of the brain linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia, such as the hippocampus -- the brain’s memory center.
So how much exercise should you get? I recommend that everyone do the equivalent of walking “like you are late” for 30-45 minutes, four to seven days a week. No brain injuries please! Avoid contact sports like football, hockey, boxing, and soccer (headers). Coordination exercises like dancing and table tennis require new learning, which are extra-beneficial for keeping you sharp as you age!
1 AnswerDr. Dawn Marcus , Neurology, answeredKeeping in our theme of “are you kidding me?” medical research studies, the International Journal of Epidemiology published a study looking at the risk of developing brain cancer with cell phone use. Frankly, in most developed countries I rarely see people without a cell phone implanted on their ears, so I’m not sure how you’d find a control group of “typical” people who don’t use cell phones! Anyway, after spending 24 million -- yes, million! -- dollars to collect data over 10 years on how much people thought they used their phone, which ear they might have held a cell phone to, and whether they developed a brain tumor, the authors decided cell phone use probably doesn’t increase brain cancer risk, but maybe using the phone a lot might cause a problem.
Hmm … here’s my 24 cent analysis. Cell phones are part of our society and that’s not likely to change until new technology replaces them. Talking on the phone a little is unlikely to be a problem. Even your Mom told you most things in moderation were okay! If you spend an excessive amount of time on the phone, that’s likely to be bad for your health. Why -- because of cell phone waves driving into your skull? No -- because talking on the cell phone prevents you from being connected with the actual world in front of you! Get off the phone and take Fido for a walk. Can you walk and talk on the phone? Well, you could, but you’d miss healthy opportunities to meet and engage with others you pass on the street or quiet mediation time or time to enjoy the beauty of your neighborhood. So should you limit your time on your cell phone? Absolutely! Not because you’re afraid that having it stuck to your ear will cause brain cancer, but because it’s an easy crutch to prevent you from getting and staying connected in your immediate world. So hang up the phone, walk your dog, and see what’s in the world around you. It’s healthier for you than spending 30 minutes talking to your friend about the latest celebrity gossip.
1 AnswerDr. Michael Roizen, MD , Internal Medicine, answeredSure, vacations are great for both your stress level and your sex life. But they can also help improve your cognitive skills.
How? Well, for one thing, you'll probably use a map or at least a complex set of instructions at least once. When you're driving, walking, or studying the subway system of a new city, you're using so many different parts of your brain at once. You're using visual-spatial skills to read a map, and then you need to translate it into verbal code to whoever's driving (Honey, turn left! Now!).
When you're driving, you need to make quick decisions about where to go, which involves processing information quickly. And then you store things in your long-term memory to remember where you just visited. Get lost? Even better. Figuring out how to get back actually contributes to the brain-building process.
Of course, that kind of all-brain training can even serve important purposes. For the vacationer, taking a wrong turn may lead you to a quaint antique shop you'd never have known about. For a soldier in war, however, taking a wrong turn can have serious consequences.
1 AnswerDr. Mehmet Oz, MD , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answeredYou're on a beach with a cold drink in one hand and a sizzling paperback in the other. The beach breeze kisses your face while the ocean tickles your toes. You hear gulls talking, waves crashing, and the steel-drum band jamming. You smell salt water and coconut sunscreen. Sound like paradise? Well, it's more than that.
That quick mental picture just improved your brain function. See, daydreaming keeps your mind flexible. By stirring up the part of your brain that handles imagination, you keep your brain running outside of its normal thought process, which helps your cognitive function at the highest levels.
Consider daydreaming an important part of your mental action plan. I just want your mind to stay active, so it's up to you what you daydream about, whether it involves Hawaii, Mt. Everest, or a throng of sweaty Chippendales.
1 AnswerDr. Mehmet Oz, MD , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answeredRenowned neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi believes push-ups – yes, just good old-fashioned push-ups – are the most important step to strengthening your “brain muscles” and preventing Alzheimer’s. Proper form, however, is key.
Start on the floor, with your hands set at about a shoulder-width distance, angling your hands in a way that feels comfortable. Extend your legs, with your feet also in a comfortable position, generally shoulder-width apart or wider for more stability. Be sure your body is in one straight line from your head to your heels; avoid having your butt or belly either sagging or sticking up. Clenching your butt cheeks and tightening your abs will ensure you’ve engaged your core. Keeping your gaze forward, slowly lower until your elbows form a 90-degree angle, keeping your arms in tight to your body. Then, push yourself back up, still keeping your elbows tight and your core engaged.
For additional support when first starting out, keep your knees bent on the floor and do modified push-ups. Either way, seven push-ups or more a day will help stimulate blood flow to your brain and generate new brain cells, which is the most effective weapon in fighting cognitive disease.
This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com
3 AnswersRegina Tula , NASM Elite Trainer , Fitness, answered
You will find great ideas here on Sharecare regarding increasing brain power! If you are an individual that enjoys working with a group I would like to suggest searching out classes which will incorporate Memory, Multitasking, Language, Ambidextrous Movement, Routine Breakup, Socialization, and Coordination. Look for classes such as a Parkinson's Exercise Group or Stroke Class where these skills are honed in on to assist people dealing with a neurological disorder.
- You will benefit from the exercises.
- If you do not have a neurological disorder these folks will NOT judge you.
- You will step out of the box of millions who are unaware of these disorders and will build a valuable link of support to people who need it the most.
- You will feel good about yourself and others will tremendously appreciate you in the process.
These types of classes should incorporate a physical and mental preparation for an improvement on activities we do every day. A quick example would be to have each person in class individually say a word and associate it to a movement at the same time. Then the next person does the same. Each individual has to remember the movement and the word of all the people before them and add to it. After every person has done this then everyone tells the story with the words and movements. It is a fun process and this is just one of the activities you might find in one of these types of classes. This activity assist in memory, sequencing, and prioritizing; items in life we should never take advantage of. Be strong mentally, physically, and encourage others at the same time. It is a win for all.
1 AnswerAARP answeredResearch shows that when you're chronically sleep-deprived, your body doesn't have the time to build proteins and other brain-boosting components. So instead of waking yourself early, sleep until you wake naturally.