The summer season is upon us. This often means we have a little bit of added energy from the beautiful weather, offering up the opportunity to build healthy habits to support our bodies year-round.
What healthy habits might we build during this energizing season to help our brain? Today, we are going to take a high-level look at our brains and how to create positive habits for our brain health.
Our brain is a complex organ
The brain is an organ that acts as the main control center of our bodies. It weighs approximately 3 pounds, making up about 2% of our body weight.
This complex organ controls:
- Our senses
- Body movement
Within the last 10 years, we have begun to understand more and more about our brain and its functioning. We know that a healthy brain will function quickly and automatically.
One in 5 people in the US suffers from a neurological disorder, however. These are diseases of the brain, spine, and nerves connecting them. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders report the following as common disorders:
- Degenerative diseases of adult life (such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease)
- Neurogenetic diseases (such as Huntington’s disease and muscular dystrophy)
- Developmental disorders (such as cerebral palsy)
- Metabolic diseases (such as Gaucher’s disease)
While we will not do a deep dive into any one of these disorders, let’s look at building your brain health as an adult.
Tips to support your brain health this summer
There are several key lifestyle habits you can adopt to build and maintain brain health.
Lifestyle habits to support your brain can be broken down into four categories:
- Physical health and exercise
- Diet and nutrition
- Cognitive activity
- Social engagement
These categories have been shown to reliably help keep your body and brain healthy to potentially reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Additionally, research has found that combining activities of each category has a greater impact on our brain health.
This summer season try to participate in one or two regular physical activities which are also mentally or socially engaging. Here are a few inspirations:
- Walking with a friend
- Taking a dance class
- Joining an exercise group
- Go golfing
- Take a tennis lesson
- Join a community pool
- Walk your dog
- Go for a bike ride
Many studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Engaging in regular physical activity and cardiovascular exercise will help to elevate your heart rate, as well as the blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
The World Health Organization recommends adults 18-16 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.
If you are looking to incorporate physical activity into your regular daily schedule, consider walking and cycling on your errands, turning television watching time into leisure activities such as gardening, or doing more regular household chores such as vacuuming and dusting.
When you learn a new physical activity, you are also helping to bolster your brain health and reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Take advantage of the summer season to try out new kinds of physical activities which may be new to you, such as playing Ultimate Frisbee, beach volleyball, mini golf, or perhaps a water-based activity such as kayaking.
Building these healthy habits during the summer months is a great way to benefit all year round. Hope you have a fantastic start to your summer!