The Ultimate Guide To Brain Fitness

The Ultimate Guide To Brain Fitness

We all know how important it is to keep our bodies fit and healthy so that we can be prepared for the demands of life, but not many people understand the importance of keeping their minds healthy as well. Brain fitness is the study of brain health and the things we can do to exercise it and keep it healthy.

The brain fitness industry is going through a major boom at the moment, thanks in part to our aging population, but mainly due to the findings that scientists are making about neurology.

Whether you’re young or old, there are things that you can do for brain fitness that will work them out and keep them active, reducing problems like memory loss or a reduction in concentration and focus.

Senior Man Doing Crosswords

Our brains are with us through every basic function we do and are responsible for so much more than we realize. That’s why the studies into brain fitness and how it can prevent the deterioration that comes with age and other factors are so important.

The first step to a healthier brain is being educated, and there are plenty of things we can do to help our brains along. This guide will answer all of your questions about brain fitness, how you can improve the health of your brain, and why it really matters, giving you all of the answers you need to start today.

What Exactly Is Brain Fitness?

Man Holding Hands On Head

Although ancient civilizations have always known about the importance of keeping their minds active, brain fitness itself grew from the study of neuroscience. As we learned how important our cognitive and mental functions were to us as humans, we began learning more about how we could improve these.

Brain fitness is an umbrella term that describes anything that exercises the brain and has to do with the health of the brain. This could include learning a new skill, doing puzzles and games, choosing healthy foods and supplements, or taking real steps towards having a healthier lifestyle with diet and exercise being your main focus.

As we age, and due to various other factors, our brain fitness starts to decline. We notice this when processes like memory, language, cognitive function, and motor coordination start to slow down or become challenging. Therefore, doing what we can now to prevent this decline from worsening is essential to the health of our brains and the rest of our body.

Neuroscience is now very involved with brain fitness and trying to find ways that we can improve it every day. We already know that there are things we can do to make our minds healthier, so now it’s a matter of implementing them and staying active mentally so that we stay as sharp and focused as possible.

The Importance Of Brain Fitness

So, why is there so much of a focus on brain fitness these days? The concept of brain fitness has really only been around during the 21st century but as soon as people learned about it they were eager to find out more.

There are many reasons why brain fitness is now as huge as it is, including the rapidly changing generational divides that we see now with our kids and their future children. Therefore, we are needing to learn new things faster than ever and keep our brains active well into the future so that we can work and live longer than previous generations ever have.

Another reason is due to the amazing advancements in science. With the technology and resources now available to those in the scientific community today, it’s possible to find out as much as we can about neurology and brain function, which has led to further discoveries.

These discoveries have shown us ways that we can improve our brain function, develop further plasticity, enhance memory and concentration, and so much more.

With all of these things possible, it’s no wonder that people of all ages want to learn more about brain fitness and what they can do to prevent their brain from deteriorating prematurely or going through their adult lives with less than ideal cognitive function.

Age-Related Brain Deterioration

Senior Woman Holding Brain In Hand

Just like the rest of our body, our brains start to deteriorate with age. You might notice small things like you’re forgetting where you parked your car or you have trouble remembering what you had for dinner last night. While usually harmless, there can sometimes be more serious conditions that these lapses in memory and function are a sign of.

There are a few factors at play which cause brain deterioration. As we age, our levels of dopamine and serotonin naturally decrease which can lead to a reduction in brain function.

Additionally, the physical size of our brain also shrinks and it affects some key areas of the brain more than others. Other things like hormones or external lifestyle choices might also cause the brain to start to deteriorate more rapidly than others.

An inactive brain is likely to deteriorate faster than an active one, and this has been proven time and time again. Therefore, keeping busy with your work, study, learning new skills, or activities that stimulate the brain is essential to do at any stage of your life and could reduce the deterioration that occurs due to old age.

Thankfully, scientists have found many other ways that we can slow down the deterioration of our brains. Physical exercise, a reduction in alcohol, and a nutritional diet are just some ways that have been proven to work.

Other more specific approaches include brain training exercises and brain health supplements like nootropics, all of which are in the early stages of research in terms of benefits.

Minds Slow Down At Different Times

When looking at brain fitness, it’s important to note something that scientists have been aware of for many years. Each person will lose their brain function and certain skills at a time different to others, and so it’s impossible to know how everyone will be affected.

We do know that from the mid ’20s, people start to lose their cognitive skills and memory. However, the rate this declines will depend on the individual. Other skills, like our vocabulary, will actually improve over time and remain this way well into old age. It’s believed that people start to level off during their 50’s and 60’s, and then start to decline after this.

There are various factors that can have both positive and negative effects on the brain, and understanding these will be our key to good brain health. Once you know what’s good and bad for your brain fitness, you can start taking steps to implement them into your everyday life.

The Positive Effects On Brain Health

Illustration Of Working Brain

https://brainfitnesssolutions.com/7-everyday-brain-fitness-techniques/​​​Since researchers began looking at brains at things which required exercise and stimulation, they have uncovered many things that can have a positive effect. This list is by no means definitive and some may find their brain gets a workout from doing other things, but as far as science has proven, these things all have a positive impact.    

Education

Studies have shown that starting education at a young age and continuing to learn through your adult years can have a great impact on our brains. It’s especially important for older people to continue to learn things so that their minds remain active, and this is often better when it’s through ongoing education.

One study showed that participants aged between 50 and 79 who completed 12 months of full-time education reported a 92.5 percent increase in cognitive reserve compared to those who didn’t. Not only can education help with your cognitive reserve that protects the brain from damage, but it gets parts of our brain working that might not have been used otherwise.

Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation comes in many forms and it will depend on the individual as to what they prefer to do. Some might like to stimulate their mind by learning a new language and others will prefer to do a daily crossword puzzle or something similar.

Staying active is important as you get older, but now we know that it’s not just about physical things, but mental as well, and these days there are plenty of ways to do it. Anything that is out of the ordinary and challenges your mind to think differently will no doubt be giving it mental stimulation.

Physical Exercise

Daily physical exercise isn’t just about keeping your body fit, but your mind as well. Numerous studies have proven the link between exercise and brain health, and it works in more than one way to achieve this. Regardless of how you get your daily exercise, it’s something we need to take seriously for the health of our entire bodies.

Exercising for just 30 minutes a day improves blood flow and oxygen to your brain, releases, and boosts feel-good hormones that work in your brain, helps with plasticity and stimulates the growth of new neuron connections.

Occupation

Male And Female Engineers

The jobs that we have, or used to have as younger people, also have a huge impact on our brain fitness. One study found that there are three types of jobs that are more mentally stimulating than others. Those that deal with data like an engineer, people like a police officer, and things like a machine mechanic.

We know that the mental stimulation we get from our jobs helps us to stay mentally active as well. Considering people are now retiring at a later age and keeping this mental stimulation happening, it’s good news all around.

Good Nutrition

Food can impact our health in so many ways, and numerous studies have shown how true this is for brain function. Not only has the right food choices been linked to better health, but also to protect against the disease and decline that occurs when our brains start to deteriorate.

One study found that a diet high in energy but low in antioxidants had a negative effect on brain cognition in later life. This means that with a little more attention on what we’re eating, we can improve the health of our brain now and when we’re older.

Stress Management

There’s no way that we can avoid stress in life, but what we can do is come up with some stress management techniques. What relieves your stress will be different for each person, so you can find something that helps relax your body and mind. Managing your stress is essential for brain fitness and allows your brain to work at its optimal capacity.

Some popular ways to deal with stress include meditation, breathing exercises, speaking with a therapist, exercise, and removing unnecessary stressors from your life. Additionally, these things are also helpful ways at improving the health of your brain so they actually have double the positive effect.

Regular Sleep

Getting enough sleep each night is important for so many aspects of health. However, if you’ve noticed how foggy your brain feels after not having enough, you’ll know how it directly affects your brain as well. The recommended guideline for adults is at least seven hours of sleep a night to be well rested, but this may be more for some.

Not only does regular sleep help in the short term, but studies have shown that there is a direct link between inadequate sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. When we don’t have enough sleep, our brains accumulate the protein beta-amyloid which is a hallmark of the condition and a serious worry for elderly individuals.

Negative Effects On Brain Health

Young Woman Under Stress

Doing everything we can to improve our brain fitness is ideal, but we should also look at what things are known to have a negative effect on it as well. With some understanding about these factors, we can work at reducing or eliminating them from our lives completely.

Chronic Stress And Anxiety

Stress and anxiety sometimes can’t be helped, but when you’re feeling it the symptoms are often dramatic but short lasting. The troubling news is that scientists have found that both stress and anxiety have long-term effects on the health of our brain, so doing what we can to try and prevent them is key.

Although stress and anxiety are two different things, the body usually responds the same way to them by releasing cortisol and norepinephrine. When this happens regularly, it starts to damage the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. These parts of the brain are responsible for depression and dementia and the more stress we feel, the more likely we are to develop them.

Depression

Depression is another mental health condition that can’t be helped, but it does have a negative impact on the brain. There are three key areas of the brain that are affected in someone with this mood disorder; the hippocampus, amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex.

Some negative impacts it has on the individual are memory loss, problems regulating moods, and making decisions.

A recent study found that test mice who had been given a dosage of psychedelic drugs were actually able to repair connections between neurons. This is promising news for patients with depression as it means some of the damage that this condition has done to their brain can be fixed.

Smoking, Alcohol And Drug Abuse

We know that alcohol, drugs, and smoking are no good for us, but due to the addictive natures of these substances, it’s something that many people do. Alcohol seems to have the most significant impact on the brain when it comes to studies on health, so making an effort to reduce your weekly intake could be beneficial.

Alcohol-related brain damage is a real condition that occurs with people who abuse alcohol. However, some studies have shown that just a small amount of alcohol can have a negative effect on the health of your brain as well.

Unhealthy Diet

Woman Eating Cakes

Eating a diet high in sugar and energy with little nutritional diet is no good for your brain fitness and making some small changes to what you eat could yield great results short and long term.

One of the most powerful food sources we can choose for our health is omega-3 fatty acids. These include fatty fish, and when eaten will improve cognitive abilities and synaptic function in the brain.

There are even some hormones present in the gut that directly affect brain health. Leptin, ghrelin, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide 1 can affect our emotions and various cognitive functions. The foods we eat and the reaction of our gut can also have an impact on our brain’s plasticity and ability to learn new things.

Inactive Mind

Most things that we do each day are simply done on autopilot. The route that we drive to work, cooking dinner each night, and brushing  our teeth are exactly the same every day and require no extra thought. A healthy brain is an active one, and by not giving your brain the exercise it needs you’ll be contributing to its poor health.

There are so many great brain fitness exercises available that you can do, and small efforts to change up your routine or learn something new will be hugely beneficial. Watching TV, using your smartphone, or doing the exact same things every day will not be helping your brain to thrive.

Types Of Brain Fitness Exercises

One of the best things we can do every day is to exercise our brain. Not only will we reap the short-term benefits of these exercises but they’ll have positive long-term effects as well. We’ve found some of the different types of brain fitness exercises that one can try at home to keep their minds active and significantly improve the health of their brain.

Memory Boosting

We rely on our memory all day, even if you don’t realize it. There is the short-term working memory that keeps things that happened in the last 15 seconds all the way through to our long-term memory that we call upon for information about our past.

Your memory is like a muscle and it needs to be worked out constantly to stay sharp, and there are some easy ways to do it.

Number Game

Choose any random three-digit number in your head, then add the number 3 to it 3 times, and subtract the number 7 from it 7 times. Do this five times and then change your number and try again.

Testing Recall

Get a few items from your house or write yourself a list, and then hide the contents from your view. Try to recall what was there and add an item each time to continue challenging yourself.

Repeat Conversations

Three Senior Men Talking

When people talk to us, we usually just hear what they’re saying and then forget it. Make a mental effort to repeat what someone is saying to you in your mind. You’ll find that you remember it better later on.

Pattern Learning

Pattern recognition is a popular style of brain training and there are plenty of ways to try it for yourself. Look online for free resources that offer various patterns for you to try and solve or invest in a board game or puzzle book that has these challenges.

Our frontal lobes get a workout when we try to solve patterns like this and it can have a positive impact on your brain’s health.

Learning A Foreign Language Or Instrument

Sometimes training your brain can have other benefits as well. Learning a new talent like a foreign language or a musical instrument is not only good for your brain’s health but also gives you a new skill to use.

Taking time to practice a new skill activates parts of your brain that sometimes lay dormant. It’s also a great way to boost your memory as you are relying on many different aspects of memory to learn new things. This is great for elderly people to do if they no longer attend work or ongoing education.

Refining Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is an important cognitive skill and one that we use during many daily activities, requiring the simultaneous use of our eyes and hands. Most of these learning activities are aimed at improving the hand-eye coordination of infants and kids, but there is a lot to gain for adults to continue to practice them as well.

You can improve your hand-eye coordination in a few easy ways that will keep you entertained as well as improve your brain health:

  • Simple ball games like throwing a ball at the wall and catching it with one hand, and then switching hands
  • Online computer games that test your coordination by following objects around with the mouse
  • Learn to juggle with two balls at first and then three. Spend time each day improving this skill and it will positively impact more than just your hand-eye coordination

Concentration Training

Man Concentrating

Sometimes it can be hard to concentrate on something, whether it’s a lecturer talking at a college or following a conversation you’re having with a friend. This is a skill that can be improved though and by actively working on conversation training you’ll be giving your brain a huge boost as well. These are some things you can try to improve your concentration:

  • Start with smaller goals of staying focused on something for just 10 minutes at a time without distraction then allow yourself a break. Add 5 minutes to this once you master it and gradually, you’ll be able to focus for longer periods
  • Create a distraction list of things you want to check when you’re on a break. This will prevent you from constantly swapping the task you’re focused on

Meditation

Meditation is a very powerful tool that should be utilized by everyone, thanks to its many benefits for the body and mind. Not many people realize just how beneficial meditation is for brain health but thanks to recent studies, it’s becoming more obvious.

Spending some time each day devoted to meditation practice can improve your attention span and reduce stress levels. There are many types of meditation but it seems mindfulness is the most effective as it allows people to focus on what’s happening right at the moment.

Brain Health Games And Exercises

There’s one product that has been growing in popularity later, and the more we learn about brain fitness the bigger and more versatile the range gets. Brain games, brain training, and brain fitness exercises are just some of the way that these activities are marketed, with their shared goal being to work out the brain and improve on your cognitive skills and function.

The brain training industry has expanded a lot in recent years, and some of the most common types of these games include video games, board games, and card games. They offer something more than just the fun that you get with regular games and have an element of education and challenge which makes them especially helpful for children.

These brain games have been developed for different age groups so that you can choose one that will suit you specifically.

You might want to improve your language and vocabulary, logic, memory, or overall cognitive function, and each one will be able to cater to these needs. Most games can be played for just 15 minutes a day in order to feel the results, which will be both short and long-term.

Various studies have been done on the effectiveness on these games, and depending on manufacturer and specific product their results vary.

What is known though is that they provide a healthier and more stimulating alternative for many of the other activities out there today, like watching TV or playing video games. They work for young and old and are generally affordable, so there’s really no downside.

Brain Health Supplements And Nootropics

Supplements In Hand

There are some substances out there that can actually enhance the performance of the brain, and it’s only been in recent years that science has been uncovering just how beneficial they are. Nootropics is the umbrella term for this group of substances, and it refers to both natural and artificial substances that have a direct impact on cognitive function.

Nootropics are sometimes referred to as smart drugs, brain boosters, or cognitive enhancers and they might be sold on their own or as part of a nootropic stack with various ingredients. The most popular types are those with natural ingredients as they offer less of a risk, but there are some powerful synthetic nootropic substances as well.

Researchers are only just learning about the impacts that these ingredients can have on the brain and so far, they’ve been shown to help everything from mood to memory.

Some of the ingredients have been around for years and others aren’t as well known, but what is understood is how helpful they can be for the brain. These are just a few examples of natural nootropics that work:

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

This hugely popular nootropic comes with many benefits, including an increase in cognitive function when taken. Other studies have shown it can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Bacopa Monnieri

This comes from the Brahmi plant that has been used in ancient Indian medicine for thousands of years. It has reported benefits for improving memory, as well as boosting hand-eye coordination.

Gingko Biloba

Gingko Biloba has been around for thousands of years with roots dating back to Chinese medicine. It has been proven to help with reducing symptoms of anxiety but also improving cognitive performance.

L-Theanine

This amino acid is found in most types of tea and has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety. When combined with caffeine, another nootropic, it can improve attention, concentration, and cognitive function.

Foods For Brain Power

Food For Brain

We now understand the effect that nutrition has on our brains, and there are some simple food choices we can make that will bring us these benefits. In addition to taking a nootropic supplement, we should be trying to add as many of these food choices into our daily diet to improve our brain fitness.

Dark Chocolate

While also being delicious, research has shown that the high number of flavonoids in dark chocolate can help protect the brain from damage. It can also give a boost to memory and mood which will be felt almost instantly. The lack of sugar in most dark chocolate products is also good news for brain health.

Coffee

We feel the effects of our morning cup of coffee in minutes, and among the benefits, it can help improve concentration and focus. Not only does it provide immediate benefits, but studies have shown it can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions.

Fatty Fish

Salmon, sardines, and trout are the best kinds of fish you can eat when you want a brain boost. This is due to their high level of omega-3 fatty acids. Since the human brain is made of 60 percent fat, with half of that fat being omega-3, it makes sense that these foods will help.

Blueberries

Research has shown that the antioxidants found in blueberries have been discovered accumulating in the brain and helping make connections. In addition, studies in animals have shown they improve memory and can prevent the loss of your working memory capacity.

Turmeric

Turmeric features a key ingredient, curcumin, which is responsible for all of its brain-boosting benefits. These include memory improvement, new brain cell growth, and a reduction in symptoms of depression

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are good for all parts of the body and their antioxidants can be especially helpful at protecting the brain from damage. The nutrients within, including zinc and magnesium, have specific benefits including memory improvement and a reduction in the risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Nuts

Nuts In Bowl

Some studies have shown that nuts are good for brain health and heart health. It can help reduce the risk of neurological disease and also improve cognitive functions, as well as being a tasty and healthy snack.

Oranges

Often referred to as a powerful source of Vitamin C, oranges are also good at protecting the brain from damage and aging. Studies have shown that eating vitamin C rich foods, like oranges, can reduce mental decline and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Eggs

There are plenty of good things found in eggs that make them healthy for body and mind. When it comes to the brain, eating eggs means you are increasing your intake of choline. This has been proven to improve memory and mental function, but not many people get enough of it in their diet.

Green Tea

The best tea for the mind, green tea features the two powerful nootropics of caffeine and L-theanine. Green tea can be used for everything from reducing anxiety, preventing Alzheimer’s, and improving memory, and just one cup a day is all you need.

The Brain Fitness Industry

All of these findings have been utilized by those in the brain fitness industry and it’s one market that is seeing an incredible boom lately. 20 years or so ago, the brain fitness industry was virtually unheard of and now it is an industry worth billions of dollars.

The cognitive assessment and training market is set to be worth around $8 billion by 2021, and this is thanks to the many products and services within it proving their benefits.

Within this market, there are manufacturers of nootropics, brain games, corporate learning, coaching services, and education. There appears to be no shortage of ways for us to achieve brain fitness, no matter our budgets or preferences.

The drivers of this market include a growing aging population, not only in the US but the rest of the world. As well as an advancement in scientific findings and technology that highlight the importance of working our brains just as we do the rest of our bodies.

Young children through to elderly individuals can benefit from this industry which is another reason it’s seeing such huge growth.

With the amazing advancements that have already been made, predicting what’s next for this industry is a challenge. As science uncovers more about the brain and neurological functions, these companies are sure to put the findings to good use and adapt their products and services to give people the best chance to improve their brain health.

Caring For Our Most Important Asset

Holding Brain Illustration

Without our brains functioning at a healthy level, there’s not much that we’d be capable of doing. We’re learning more each day about just how important these organs are and what their health means for us now and in the future.

Growing old and other factors all contribute to the reduction of brain fitness but it doesn’t mean that we have to accept defeat. We know now what things need to be done to make our brains healthier and keep them active, and taking care of this body part has become more important than ever before.

Thanks to the wonders of science, there have been many studies on what impacts or brains, both good and bad, so we’re able to learn from these findings. There are plenty of things we can do to promote brain fitness including health supplements and nootropics, brain training games, good diet, regular physical exercise, and a calmer mind.

If you want to start today improving the health of your mind, training exercises and nootropics are the way to go. These science-backed supplements and activities can get your brain on the right track and improve its functionality in no time at all, so they’re definitely worth checking out.

For the highest quality products in the brain health market, check out our helpful buying guides to see what the experts recommend.

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