Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can improve brain health through a phenomenon called ‘neuroplasticity’. This is where brain cells can easily respond to illness or injury. In addition, physical activity can create a series of biological processes that help improve the function of the brain regions responsible for memory and decision making. Wondering how to improve your brain health? In particular, cycling or running (as opposed to strength training exercises like weight training) has been shown to increase a protein that focuses on the growth and survival of brain cells.
Brain images in laboratory tests also confirm that these activities can improve the function of the hippocampus (the brain area responsible for memory) to help people remember better. In addition, exercise can also help muscles grow, nourishing neurological factors derived from the brain to increase the ability to cope with injury or disease of the brain.
Over the past decade, many people have done meditation and mindfulness as a therapy for mental health disorders, especially depression and anxiety. Some studies around the world have shown that long-term meditation is related to brain physiological changes such as greater brain volume and higher brain activity. However, the level of meditation that is associated with a better memory or long-term protection against brain diseases must still be defined.
Hypnosis is one of the oldest forms of psychology. It is often used as a pain supportive treatment and a variety of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress. Recent studies in the United States show that during hypnosis, changes in brain activity are found in areas of the brain that control attention and control emotions.
In particular, a small study (18 patients) showed hypnosis significantly improved the quality of life of dementia patients after 12 months, patients with higher levels of concentration and motivation. Researchers say hypnosis plays an important role in reducing stress and anxiety, which can help improve concentration and attention. But this result is very preliminary and requires further studies with a larger number of patients.
And practical application
The major challenge when studying the effects of lifestyle changes on brain health, especially for a long time, is the overlap, large coverage on many factors. For example, participating in physical activity will involve better sleep and less stress – this also improves memory and thinking.
Similarly, better sleep is related to improved mood. It can make people feel more motivated to exercise, which can also lead to better memory and thinking. Meanwhile, the role of each lifestyle factor (sleep, physical activity, diet, social participation) has not been specifically defined and limited. But a series of unscientific lifestyle activities that are likely to affect the brain is recognized as physical inactivity, obesity, chronic stress, and high blood pressure that can increase the risk of dementia in later life.
Recently, a large study with the participation of 21,000 adult Americans, over 65 years of age shows that the incidence of dementia has decreased significantly from 11.6% to 8.8% (down nearly 25%)- in 12 years (from 2000 to 2012). Researchers believe that a decrease in this rate may be due to an increase in education and better control of risk factors for high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
This brings hope that people can improve brain function through participating in a range of beneficial activities to improve mental function, improve cardiovascular health, or reduce stress.
It is never too early to start lifestyle changes and improve brain health, especially when these changes are made easy and also easily accessible to most people.
Doing these right in your 20’s
When you’re in your 20s, you might think that your 40s is a long time away. You don’t seem to care much when someone talks about common health problems at the age of 40 because you think it has nothing to do with you.
But scientists don’t think like you. They think that your lifestyle in your 20s directly affects your health when you are 40 years old, including scary problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, brain atrophy. Dr. Bancks, a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University Feinberg University School of Medicine in Chicago, says, taking care of your heart by following a diet and proper exercise regimen that really has can prevent your brain from shrinking later on.
We found that those who maintained cardiovascular health better in adulthood had higher brain masses in middle age. Exercise and diet are two of the most important ingredients to fight brain shrinkage, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease as well as dementia, “he explained.
This study was published in the journal Neurology, based on simple instructions in the “Life’s Simple 7” – suggestions by the American Heart Association to help people improve their cardiovascular health. These guidelines include: Maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol, keeping blood sugar low, maintaining activity, eating healthy, losing weight, and quitting smoking.
The researchers followed 518 people in three decades with an average current age of 51. Each participant was ranked at the beginning of the study on the level of compliance with the above guidelines. Tests and follow-ups are conducted every 2-5 years and after 25 years, they are scanned for the brain. The researchers then took the score from the beginning and compared it to the score after each brain scan during the study period.
The results show that for each improvement point in the initial score of a young person, there is a correlation with later brain health – “basically like reducing brain aging to 1 year.” When the score increases, you will see better results in brain structure, “explained Dr. Bancks.
And that means that if you spend a decade related to drinking, smoking, sedentary, and eating unhealthy foods, your brain is more likely to suffer later. According to research, smoking can damage your brain health more than all other factors and it can make brain volume smaller.
“The brain is provided by a rich network of blood vessels to receive the nutrients and oxygen needed to function normally. A healthy heart helps ensure enough blood is pumped through these blood vessels, and the blood vessels are strong. Strong helps ensure that the network remains intact to provide the whole brain with nutrients and oxygen, “explained Dr. Bancks.
If you spend the years of your 20s at partying, make healthy changes in your life today so you don’t have to regret it.
“These findings are very interesting because these are all changes that anyone can do when they are young to help themselves live a long and healthy life. This means that even if needed. However, it is clear that cardiovascular health may have an effect on brain function in early life, ”Dr. Bancks explained.