Did you know your brain is an organ? Kind of like your heart, or your liver, or big toe — except it’s a lot more important than your big toe. And since it’s an organ, you can take care of it to make it healthier and more robust! Simple lifestyle changes can promote brain health, improve your performance, and boost your mood.
Your brain is involved in guiding all functions of the body — everything from regulating digestion, blood glucose, and cortisol levels, to muscle function and coordination. Improving the health and function of the brain creates a cascade of amazing benefits for the whole body. And who doesn’t want a shortcut to a healthier everything?!
Taking care of your brain is a shortcut to many facets of health. Here are the top Noomy ways to make your brain the best it can be.
1. Get some ZZZs
While our need for sleep is somewhat mysterious, research shows that a lack of sleep affects our memory, mood, and cognitive ability. Physical exhaustion leads to mental exhaustion, and one reason is that the brain cleans itself up at night — a process that is critical to a healthy, high functioning brain! How much is enough? Seven to nine hours seems to be the sweet spot for most people.
2. Move your body
Exercise is critical to brain health! It helps control insulin, and the brain is very sensitive to insulin. In fact, insulin resistance in in the central nervous system is associated with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, aerobic exercise appears to increase the size of the hippocampus (a region of the brain) as well. Any increase in brain density and volume is good. A big, fat brain is a healthy brain! Finally, exercise increases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is essential for a healthy brain. Any exercise benefits the brain, but aerobic and HIIT (High Intensity Interval) workouts appear especially beneficial.
3. Work out your brain
Learning anything new, at any age, is helps keep your brain sharp. Languages, music, knitting, math, games, sports, or anything really, – is great for the brain! Dancing even appears to be correlated with a lower risk of dementia with older age — maybe because of the quick decision-making needed to freestyle!
4. Protect your head
In the U.S., there are about 3 million emergency-room visits due to concussion or TBI (traumatic brain injury) every year –and those are only the ones that end up at the hospital! When playing sports (competitively or recreationally) wearing the necessary safety equipment is critical. Helmets for bike-riding, skating, football, lacrosse, hockey, and baseball are a smart precaution for obvious risks. Motor vehicle crashes are another big cause of head injury. Learning to be a good defensive driver can help you protect your brain too. Finally, staying fit and balanced as you age can help avoid the common falls that cause most concussions in the elderly.
At Noom, we want your brain housing group (BHG) to stay intact! Mastering some great brain habits is the quick path to overall better health, more happiness, and a smarter and wiser you.
Author: Jennifer Roney-Aguilar, MHEd, CBFC