How Fit is Your Brain?

How Fit is Your Brain?

Jessica Elzinga, MA, CSCS, CES

The higher your brain’s fitness, the better equipped you are to make decisions, solve problems, and deal with stress and change. Mental fitness helps you be more open to new ideas and alternative perspectives. It gives you the capacity to change your behavior and act more effectively to realize your goals.

Many people think of fitness as the ability to run a marathon or to bench press a certain amount of weight; others exercise to prevent illness rather than to promote health and stimulate growth. Very few people realize that exercise can also increase their mental fitness, a crucial component of success in today's competitive legal environment. Just like the heart, the brain is a flesh and blood organ. It requires nutritional and physiological sustenance to operate at its full capacity and to boost its metabolism. We all know that as humans – even those who think the most and the hardest – we only ever use a tiny fraction of our brain capacity. Until now most people assumed that the brain’s tissue is formed during youth and begins to deteriorate with age. Recent research by Harvard Medical School professionals shows that this is not necessarily the case. You can improve your brain-power as you age and become smarter and more effective than you ever were before. It’s simple to do: all you need is the right combination of nutrition and mental and physical exercise.

What should you do you to increase your brain’s fitness?

  • Exercise your brain like you would your body.  Attack it from all angles with new ideas, activities, people and projects.  Novelty and challenges increase synapse formation and function and make you smarter and more effective.
  • Consume the right amounts and types of nutrients – research has shown that the human brain developed its size and capacity through consumption of a modern shore-based diet.  Certain nutrients, like Omega fatty acids, are an absolutely essential part of a healthy brain's diet.
  • Exercise your body from all the right angles.  The most effective physical fitness plans incorporate aerobic, resistance, and balance/agility training.  These three aspects provide vascular health, promote essential neurotrophic factors that speed brain development and enhance cognitive speed and motor skills.  Physical activity stimulates brain growth in multi-faceted ways and is an absolutely essential component of mental fitness.
  • Manage your stress levels.  The right kind of stress can be good for your brain.  The wrong kind can completely destroy your effectiveness.  Again, exercise is an essential part of stress relief, but so is play.  Games and activities that are new to your brain will promote growth and help to relieve stress at the same time.
  • Socialization is also a key factor in brain fitness.  Many high-achievers spend hours on end at work without seeking out new social outlets or time with family and friends.  New people, new experiences, and new situations are essential to maintaining brain function.  Make time for adventures, even on the smallest scale and watch your brain power increase.
  • Get enough sleep.  Managing your physical and mental fitness is about managing your energy.  Numerous studies have shown how detrimental inadequate sleep is to both brain anatomy and function.

Learn how to apply these simple concepts to your life and see your productivity and energy levels skyrocket. Our workshops provide practical solutions to managing total fitness as a lifestyle and protecting your greatest resource: your health.



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