Brain Gains for Longevity

Brain Training Session #1: A series of brain health articles.

Huddle up, team! Coach Timeless here with some vital information on your body’s most important muscle; that’s right, your noggin. The human brain is the command center for the nervous system, enabling all thoughts, memory, movement, and emotions. Therefore, maintaining brain health is the ultimate goal for longevity.

We all know an 80-year-old brain may not be as nimble as a 30-year-old brain due to the normal wear and tear from aging. Still, if properly exercised and maintained, the brain, even those 80 or 90 years of age, can maintain its sharpness, agility, and creativity. Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging confirms people of all ages can improve their cognitive function, slow cognitive decline, and reduce their risk of dementia through simple lifestyle choices.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get training!

Warm Up–Get Moving

Physical activity has proven benefits for the brain. Exercise helps to restore healthy insulin activity, reduce inflammation, and promote neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells. In addition, staying physically active as we age substantially drops our risk of developing dementia during our lifetimes.  Walking or moving about, rather than sitting, may be all it takes to help bolster the brain.

Training Tip: Choose exercises you enjoy, such as gardening, hiking, golf, or pickleball. There is also good evidence that resistance training has memory-boosting benefits.

The more your cardiovascular fitness is improved, the more your cognitive functions are improved.

Nutrition Reps

A balanced diet is crucial in supporting brain health and cognitive processes. Eating nutritious food can slow your brain’s aging process by up to 7.5 years and reduce your chances of developing cognitive diseases.

Training Tip: Nutrient-rich foods can provide the fuel our brains need to function optimally. So, put some of the following foods in your training repetition.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These healthy fats help maintain cell membrane integrity and promote proper blood flow in the brain. Sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, and plant-based sources, like chia seeds and flaxseeds.
  • Antioxidants: These compounds help protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. Antioxidant-rich foods include berries, dark green leafy vegetables, and green tea.
  • High-quality proteins: Complete proteins provide the essential amino acids necessary for producing neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers in the brain. Good protein sources include salmon, chicken breast, tempeh, and eggs.
  • Fiber: Both soluble and insoluble fiber are essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, directly impacting brain health and functioning.

Social Circuit Training

Socializing can stimulate attention and memory and help strengthen neural networks. This increase in mental activity pays off over time. Scientists have found that people with strong social ties are less likely to experience cognitive decline than people who spend most of their time alone.

Training Tip: Your social goal this week is to schedule a family gathering or simple activity with loved ones. Call a friend to catch up, look for volunteer opportunities, join a book club, or participate in a community event.  Sign up for the Timeless Community waiting list for access to Timeless Teams activities.

Cool Down–Get Mindful and Good Night’s Sleep

Adequate sleep is essential for maintaining cognitive function and promoting overall brain health. During sleep, the brain consolidates memories and eliminates metabolic waste, which can help enhance cognitive performance. In addition, sleep is vital for neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt to new inputs and experiences.  If we sleep too little, we are less able to process what we’ve learned during the day, and we’ll have difficulty remembering it on down the road. Follow a healthy sleep hygiene routine this week for optimal brain gain goals.

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of nonjudgmental, intentional awareness of the present. It can strengthen areas of your brain responsible for learning, attention, and self-awareness. Over time, mindfulness meditation can increase cognition, memory, and engagement. It can also decrease emotional reactivity, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Training Tip: Find time in your brain training schedule to relax, sit back, and meditate. Stick with it, and over time it will become second nature. Just like working out, it takes time to build meditation muscles.

Excellent work, team! As with all things, practice makes perfect. Train your brain to keep it healthy, fit, and thriving. By eating and sleeping well, exercising regularly, and managing your emotional well-being – you can boost your brain health and keep it sharp for years to come.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, nor is the information in this article intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases.  We recommend consulting your doctor before starting or making changes to any diet, exercise, or health-related programs.

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