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Train your brain

Published : Sep 25, 2016, 10:37 pm IST
Updated : Sep 25, 2016, 10:37 pm IST

A Healthy brain function is as important for the body as keeping physically fit

BRAIN COPY.jpg
 BRAIN COPY.jpg

A Healthy brain function is as important for the body as keeping physically fit

With age, a lot of people complain of confusion, inability to understand simple tasks and difficulty while performing mental tasks. At times, they may even suffer from sudden memory loss.

While there are no distinctive and visible signs of slowing down or memory loss, training the brain is important so that it can withstand the neurological damage suffered due to aging, head injury or diseases which affect brain function.

Researchers state that following a brain-healthy lifestyle with brain exercises can help to increase the brain’s cognitive reserve. For this, people need to follow a diet low in fat and cholesterol, but high in antioxidants. Regular physical exercise will also help boost the brain function. Exercises like yoga, aerobics, weight training, cycling, jogging and running for 45 minutes daily are found to release neurochemicals in the brain, which help to regenerate neurons in the body.

Dr Alok Ranjan, consultant neurosurgeon at Apollo Hospitals explains, “The release of neuro chemicals in the brain has a positive effect on mood and cognitive behaviour of a person. Various studies have shown that people who exercise during their work days are 23 per cent more productive than those who didn’t. Brain scans of people exercising for at least an hour, three times a week have shown significant increase in size and blood flow to the memory and learning centre. Hence, people need to train their brains and keep themselves mentally fit.”

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the reasons for early onset of dementia. Obesity, high stress levels, brain diseases or viral diseases affecting the brain are some of the other causes. When the brain is passive, it has a tendency to atropy. Sedentary and relatively passive activities such as sitting in front of the TV for hours a day are found to be detrimental to brain health over a period of time.

Dr G.V. Subbaiah Chowdhary, consultant neurophysician of Star Hospitals explains, “Brain training involves real world activities to strengthen brain function. For these exercises to succeed, the patient’s will is very important. The best person to carry out these exercises is their caregiver, who knows what will suit them. Once these are identified, people can opt for various challenges like Sudoko, learning a new language, learning music, memorising lyrics of a song, learning new words and many other simple but effective exercises that stimulate the brain.”

Brain exercises Experts recommend some basic exercises to people who suffer from cognitive behaviour problems like memory loss, speech problems, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Test your recall. Make a list — of grocery items, things to do or anything else that comes to mind — and memorise it. An hour later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.

Create word pictures. Visualise the spelling of a word in your head and try and see if a similar word can be recalled.

Challenge your taste buds. When eating, try to identify individual ingredients in your meal, including subtle herbs and spices.

Learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. Studies show that learning something new and complex over a longer period of time is ideal for the aging mind.

Do math in your head. Figure out problems without the aid of pencil, paper or computer.

Learn a foreign language. The listening and hearing involved, stimulates the brain.

Draw a map from memory. After returning home from visiting a new place, try to draw a map of the area; repeat this exercise each time you visit a new location

Take a cooking class. Learn how to cook a new cuisine. Cooking uses a number of senses like smell, touch, sight and taste which involve all different parts of the brain.

Refine your hand-eye abilities. Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, assembling a puzzle, etc.

Learn a new sport. Start doing new exercises like such as yoga, aerobics, golf or tennis.