Mind Matters: How to Keep a Healthy Brain

By on March 10, 2015

We all know how important it is to look after our physical health if we want to feel and look our best. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and keeping vices such as smoking and drinking to a minimum are all essential for maintaining top physical health. We all know it, even if we do not always do it! But what of our mental fitness?

It is just as important to look after our mental fitness as it is our physical fitness. And there are easy and effective ways in which we can work to keep our minds as active and agile as our bodies.

Exercise is not just great for keeping our bodies healthy, it is also essential for keeping our minds active. Most of us have heard that exercise releases endorphins (the ‘happy hormone’) into the brain, but there are further benefits. Exercise helps us to sleep better, which in turn leaves us feeling more rested, happier and able to deal with the day ahead. And exercise can leave us with a sense of achievement if we set small goals for ourselves (e.g. to run a little further or faster or to swim a couple of extra lengths in the pool). In addition, if exercise is taken as a team sport, it can be a social activity and a great way to meet new people, which is of course great for mental well-being.

But there are some less obvious ways in which mental agility might be improved, which you might not have considered. For instance, online activities like sports gambling incorporate a range of mental exercise, such as reading up on the latest sports news, working out the odds, measuring up risk and making mental calculations. All of these could work to improve mental fitness. And of course there is also the gaming element of online sports betting, which could work to keep the mind busy and your brain active.

As US research has shown, gaming can “rejuvenate the multitasking abilities of people in their 60s, 70s and 80s”. The paper Video Game Training Enhances Cognitive Control in Older Adults was carried out by scientists at the University of California in San Francisco and showed that playing brain-training video games improved the multitasking abilities of the participants to beyond those of an average 20-year-old. The study found that those who took part in the gaming trial improved their memories and attention skills as well.

There is further research to back up the theory that gaming could improve mental agility. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the US discovered that people who regularly played computer games, as well as taking regular gentle exercise, improved their mental fitness when compared with people who only exercised or only enjoyed gaming. 

So, it would seem that the ideal recipe for improved mental agility is a combination of physical fitness and activities such as online gaming and other testing task and puzzles which work to keep our minds active and the cogs turning.

About Charleen Wyman

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