The Fountain of Mental Youth
Not that many years ago it was thought that the adult brain was unchangeable and that when brain cells died they were just gone – never to return. Thankfully, studies have shown this is not the case. Our brains are capable of growth and change for as long as we live.
I’ve blogged before about the science of neuroplasticity. It’s a field that fascinates me. Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brain to grow and change in response to new information. In other words, we can most definitely grow new brain cells.
We can keep our brains flexible and agile just as we can keep our bodies in good shape even as we age. This plasticity allows our brains to slow, prevent and possibly reverse brain aging.
We’re encouraged to do physical activities like yoga and walking so our bodies will stay stronger, more flexible and generally healthier as we age. Now we know we can combat mental aging as well through similar activities.
Last week’s blog – Are You Sitting Down? – explained the negative effects of too much sitting and how beneficial standing and moving can be for our physical health. Here are a couple of statistics from Prevention Magazine that show how walking also helps keep our brains in shape.
- 2 hours of walking a week can reduce your risk of stroke by 30%
- 40 minutes, 3 times a week of walking protects the brain region associated with planning and memory
- 30 minutes walking a day can reduce symptoms of depression by 36%
These are just some of the many benefits of walking but these relate directly to our brain health.
It is encouraging to know that so much of our health is within our control. Of course, the downside is we need to put on our shoes and get out the door.
There are a number of strategies that can boost brain health, including exercising, staying socially connected, proper diet, adequate sleep and low stress levels. These strategies aren’t new. We’ve heard about their importance relative to our physical health for years.
Now it turns out they’re important to mental health as well.
Take stress for example. Chronic, prolonged stress – as we all know – is damaging and it is important to have good stress reducers in place that work for you.
Certain regions of our brains actually atrophy from chronic stress. But – even if you’re under a lot of stress – your brain doesn’t have to suffer. Meditation actually increases brain volume in the areas associated with memory and attention.
Other stress reducers include yoga, visualization, exercise, or any other activity that gives you a sense of calm and peace. The important thing is to pick activities you really enjoy doing. That way, you will keep at it.
Enjoy and Breathe Easy
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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