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Your brain is responsible for controlling every aspect of your body, from your heartbeat to breathing, moving your fingers and limbs to turn the pages of a book, directing your full attention to an activity, making decisions, and more. While much health and fitness advice is related to getting your body in its best shape, there’s much to be said for your daily habits and how they impact your cognitive function.
Get Sufficient, Quality Sleep
In today’s always-on society, we’re so used to making sacrifices to chase the elusive “do it all” goal. Missing a good night’s sleep seems like an insignificant exchange for impressing your boss or finishing that carefully designed, custom Halloween costume you found on Pinterest for your child.
The truth is that missing out on either quantity or quality of sleep can actually leave you less able to meet your day-to-day demands. Thus, the quantity and quality of your work and other efforts will suffer, too, making it a lose-lose proposition. Commit to getting enough sleep to help to give your brain the time it needs to rejuvenate.
Eat Brain-Boosting Foods
The foods you eat don’t just influence your waistline; they influence your cognitive function, too. Your diet can have substantial impacts on your memory, ability to concentrate, and that brain fog that many of us experience in mid-afternoon. Eating a diet rich in brain-healthy foods can help to lift the brain fog, improve focus and memory, and help your brain stay healthy throughout your life. To fuel your brain, choose foods such as:
- DHA-fortified eggs
- Bran cereals
- Whole-wheat toast and bagels
- Dark, leafy greens
Stimulate Your Brain with an Enriching Environment
Like the muscles of your body, your brain needs to work for optimal functioning. The more you use your muscles, the stronger they become; the same is true of your brain. Making use of the neural pathways you’ve created throughout your life will help your brain maintain the connections and memories you’ve created long into adulthood. In fact, keeping your brain stimulated with challenging activities can even help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease.
So how do you stimulate your brain? Think activities such as puzzles, problem-solving activities, reading, taking classes, writing, and more will keep your brain active and engaged.
Ramp Up Your Physical Activity
You already know that regular exercise is good for your body, but did you know it’s equally as critical for brain health? Even just 15 to 30 minutes per day of cardiovascular exercise can boost your executive functions.
Some of the health benefits of exercise for the brain come indirectly, too. For instance, regular exercise can help you to maintain a positive mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and help you sleep better. All of these effects are good for the brain as well as the body. Find an activity you enjoy—be it swimming, running, or another cardio-focused workout, and aim for one hour, at least twice per week, even if you’re just walking to reap the brain benefits of exercise.
If you’re yearning for more energy, a better ability to focus, and optimal performance in all aspects of your life, boosting your cognitive function with these healthy habits won’t just help you do better today, but they may just help you maintain health and well-being for greater longevity, too.