Michio Kaku once said, “The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.” So, with that being said, just how do we exercise our brain in such a way as to keep it at it’s healthiest?
Muscle or Organ?
Have you always thought that the brain was a muscle? Well, actually it’s not a muscle in the sense we think of, it consists of neurons and glial cells, not muscle fibers and just like muscles can improve, so can the brain.
Then it must be an organ? Yes, it is part of our Central Nervous System and works closely with our Endocrine System.
Ok, then how can we proceed to exercise it?
Here are just a few things you can do at home:
- Teach yourself something “new” – you might try things like learning a musical instrument, quilting, digital photography – this challenges your memory compared to just watching television or listening to music
- Learn a new language – this will help stretch your mind as you continue to accomplish new things
- Socialize more – by doing this, you can engage multiple areas of the brain – maybe play some sports, take on volunteering
- Improve your memory and cognitive abilities – Try working on a jigsaw puzzle, play card games such as: gin rummy, poker, crazy eights, bridge, solitaire and hearts
- Build up your vocabulary – It’s a great idea to always learn new words but did you know that it can also help stimulate your brain’s visual and processing areas
- Dance !! – Dance? What? How could this help? – Learning new dance moves makes you think and it will help your speed and memory abilities- So Have FUN with it !
- Make sure your diet is right – Eat foods that are low in fat and cholesterol as well as high in antioxidants
- Do the opposite – Try writing with your opposite hand – This isn’t easy for some of us – this should really make you focus
Did you know ?
- According to Bennet Omalu M.D. , “It takes the brain about 1/10,000th of a second to respond to something and generate an action.”
- Brain waves are actually more active when we’re dreaming
- Did you know that your brain can make new neurons?
- Memories start forming in the womb as early as 4 months in to the pregnancy – (Prenatal Memory – Wikipedia)
- Neurons travel 150mph in the brain (National Geographic)
- The brain is incapable of forming memories when we’re intoxicated – Yukitoshi Izumi, research professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said: ‘We’ve found that exposure to alcohol inhibits some receptors and later activates others, causing neurons to manufacture steroids that inhibit memory formation.’
- Even though we access information quickly through the internet, it actually makes it harder for our brains to remember compared to the harder we have to work for the information, the easier it is to remember.
- According to the Huffington Post, the average brain has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts daily -most being negative; it’s no wonder that our bodies look older than we are sometimes
- Did you know that 95 percent of all decisions we make take place our subconscious mind? Wow !! (Science Daily)
- According to Time Magazine, the attention span is shorter than a goldfish and has decreased by 12 minutes over the span of 10 years
Can Your Brain Play Tricks On You?
I would venture to say, “Why Yes it can.” But how? Has it ever occurred to you that your brain is sometimes in “lazy” mode? What do I mean by that you say? Well, simply put, this is done by heuristics, a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. One example of this is when our brain relies on what has worked well in the past, as in if you are afraid to fly because you think it’s more dangerous than driving, then your brain is actually using what is known as availability heuristic. In reality flying is much safer than driving, but your brain if fooling you into believing that it is much more dangerous than it really is.
Here are a few fun Mind Trick questions you can play on your family or friends:
- Want to get a giggle or two out of your friends? Ask this mind trick question: ” Jane’s mother has four children: May, June, July and …” Now more than likely most people will say August but that’s not right . The answer is Jane.
- “How can a man go eight days without sleep?” Betcha you’ll stump them with this one 🙂 The answer is: By sleeping at night ….see, it’s the simple thinking … but you’ll have them overthinking a lot ! That’s what we usually tend to do first .. look for that mysterious answer when it was right in front of us the whole time.
- Now, your friends will be in awe of how you pulled off the following mind trick:
- So here’s the way it goes: Look up the 9th word on page 108 in your dictionary and write it on a slip of paper and fold it into an envelope. Next you’ll want to ask two people if they want to have their minds read. Give one person a dictionary and the other a calculator. Ask the volunteer with the calculator to pick any three digits without any of them repeating e.g. 569. Tell them to reverse the number (965). Next, tell them to subtract the larger number from the smaller one (965-569=396) and reverse the answer (693). Now, tell your volunteer to add the last sums 396+693=1089. This will always be the answer whatever the number initially picked. Are you ready for what’s next? So, ask the volunteer the first three digits of the answer. This is 108. At this point, ask the volunteer with the dictionary a to check the 9th word on page 108. Here’s where you can play with their minds so you’ll want to pretend to read their minds – drag this out as long as you want to. Pull out the envelope where you had earlier placed your slip of paper and get out the word. So have fun with this mind trick, maybe even incorporate it for the Holidays somehow – get creative !
Maintaining Good Brain Health – The Essentials
So overall, here is a list of beneficial steps to take to keep our brains as healthy as can be.
- Indulge in a healthier diet
- Try to get a good nights’ rest – 7-9 hours is recommended
- Try to lessen the stress in your life
- Be Socialable
- Mentally challenge your brain daily
- Give every effort to be physically as active as possible
- And last but certainly not least – Look after your heart – surprisingly there’s a big connection between your heart and brain health
So while you’re exercising other areas of your life, don’t forget about one of the most important parts of your body – Your Brain will be glad you did 🙂