Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Thirteen—13 brain helps and exercises

1.  First the best one—eat more dark chocolate.  “ The cacao bean, from which chocolate is made, is  complex, containing more than 400 chemicals. Many of them can affect human biology and health.” Sorry, your favorite candy bar may not help. The beneficial effects of chocolate are not in milk chocolate or white chocolate.

2.  Visit a museum.  Two years ago at Lakeside we had a program on the incredible museums in Ohio.  I just couldn’t  believe the variety. Most recently we toured the Ohio Historical Society and saw the 1950s exhibit—it’s tough when your halcyon days are now in a museum! When you get home from your (guided) tour,  jot down what you remember. “Research into brain plasticity (the ability of the brain to change at any age) indicates that memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function (and hinder the rate of decline) of the brain.” Brain fitness tips

3.  Memorize a song.  “Developing better habits of careful listening will help you in your understanding, thinking and remembering. Reconstructing the song requires close attentional focus and an active memory. When you focus, you release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a brain chemical that enables plasticity and vivifies memory.“  Although it’s not a song, I suppose it would help to sing it—my New Year’s resolution was to memorize the names of the books of the Old Testament by January 31. Today I’m on Amos, Obadiah and Jonah. Brain fitness tips.

4.  Exercise your peripheral vision. I think I remember doing this in elementary school.  Sit outside and stare straight ahead, don’t move your eyes.  Then write down everything you can remember seeing, including the periphery.  This exercise again should help you reinvigorate the controlled release of acetylcholine in your brain.  Brain fitness tips

5.  Learn to play a (new) musical instrument. My husband is trying to teach himself to play the guitar.  I want him to take lessons, so I got him a gift certificate for Christmas.  He had NO musical training as a child—virtually everyone I knew in our little town took piano lessons and later started band instruments.  “Playing an instrument helps you exercise many interrelated dimensions of brain function, including listening, control of refined movements, and translation of written notes (sight) to music (movement and sound).” The photo is our son showing his dad some fingering.


6.  Put together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle.  This involves a lot of brain activity, looking at the piece, rotating it in your mind and hand, and figuring out the big picture.

7. Try using your non-dominate hand for simple tasks, like brushing your teeth or buttoning a shirt.  But be careful—might be tough to get the toothpaste out of your misbuttoned shirt. Keep your brain alive, (Workman, 1999)

8.  Add fish—especially fatty fish like salmon—to your diet. If your diet lacks omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish,  your brain may age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking capabilities according to a recent UCLA study.  It also helps your cardiovascular system. 

9.  Physical exercise is also brain exercise. Exercise has positive benefits for the hippocampus, a brain structure that is important for learning and memory. It can even help your brain create new cells.  They already knew endurance exercises were good for the brain, and here’s the research to confirm it.  Think of those little mice running a treadmill just for your brain! I’m in an exercise class a few times a week, and when the weather is better I’ll also walk outdoors.

10.   Get a good night’s sleep.  Memory tasks are easier if you are well rested because the brain can store those tasks in your long term memory.  There are several theories on why sleep is important for memory.

11. At dinner, rearrange the seating chart. This challenges the associations we have.  I wonder if this applies to the pew in church? Keep your brain alive, (Workman, 1999)

12.  Take an unfamiliar route on your commute or drive someone else’s car (ask first).   Pay attention—you’ll be forced to and won’t be on autopilot. Keep your brain alive, (Workman, 1999)

13.  Shower with your eyes closed—but only if you have good balance. Find the faucets, soap, shampoo, etc. and if you’re in my shower, don’t forget to squeegee the tile and glass doors. Keep your brain alive, (Workman, 1999)

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Thirteen, check here.


Unknown said...

I haven't consciously worked on any of these for a long time. Thanks for the reminder.

Norma said...

Although there are just two of us, maybe tonight I'll change the seating arrangement at the dining room table.

sandyland said...

excellent tips for sure I too love the dog leading with leash and want a golen so badly

Pearl said...

great. good to get reminders. do something you don't like until you do. for example, I read the sports or business section, or went to areas of the library I don't usually to orient to something different.

just had a drinking chocolate (oh my, intense) over at the food blog:

Nicola O. said...

Great idea for a list! I'll go get some dark chocolate right now. ;)

CountryDew said...

I play guitar but have grown quite rusty as I haven't picked it up in a while. I really need to get back to that!

I also love jigsaw puzzles but haven't worked one in years.

Anonymous said...

These are awesome. I don't even remember the last time I put a jigsaw puzzle together. Thanks for the inspiration.

Heather said...

I *love* dark chocolate, and my favorite candy bar (Mounds) actually is beneficial. I admit I haven't visited a museum or played my violin in a while (a neck injury makes it uncomfortable to hold very long), but I do vary the routes I walk on a regular basis and really look at my surroundings. I frequently try to list some of what I saw while I was out as soon as I get home, without refering to my camera (which I always have with me). My T13

Shelley Munro said...

These are great tips, and I do a couple of them - the dark chocolate, the salmon and the exercise. I do the squeegee thing for my shower too :)