This January, the entire Lumosity team resolved to stay healthy—and to share our knowledge with you! To help with our mission, we teamed up with Dr. Cynthia R. Green, one of America’s foremost memory fitness and brain health experts.
For the past two weeks we’ve been sharing tips from Dr. Green’s newest book, 30 Days to Total Brain Health. We posted daily tips with fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and I participated along with everyone, tip for tip!
It’s been a great two weeks sharing successes and struggles, and we wanted to make sure no one missed out. Here’s a roundup that includes everything I learned during my personal brain health journey. If you have yet to try out these simple tips, try incorporating them into your routine for a fitter, healthier brain. It takes just minutes a day.
Tip #1: Get physical
We all know exercise is important to physical health, but research shows that 30 mins of exercise several times a week can also improve memory, attention, processing speed, and executive control. Plus, exercise can help you manage other medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, which can lead to dementia.
Hallie’s notes: Over the past two weeks, I’ve upped my gym workouts from around once a week to three times a week. I even left the car at home and rode my bike whenever I could. Regular exercise always makes me feel better, and it’s great to know I’m giving my brain a little TLC too.
Tip #2: Play online
Research shows that we can better maintain cognitive skills like attention, speed, executive control and memory (all of which can change as we age) by giving them a good “work out.”
Hallie’s notes: Every Lumosity subscriber knows the alert, ready to take on the day feeling you get after completing a daily training session, so for us this is a no brainer. I like to complete my daily session right when I get to work in the morning. It’s better than coffee!
Tip #3: Tap a tune
Make up a little tune by tapping your fingers on your table or desktop. It doesn’t matter if your tune is simple or complex; either way, it’ll challenge your brain to think about the world in a slightly different way. It forces you to coordinate your movement, auditory and memory skills.
Hallie’s notes: This tip has been our most popular so far! I suspect it’s because tapping out a tune is something we all enjoy and do anyway. Even at the risk of driving our coworkers crazy. I spend around an hour on public transportation comuting each day, and that’s my favorite time to tap a tune.
Tip #4: Learn about memory loss
Have questions (or fears) about changes in your memory? Here’s your chance to find some answers. The Alzheimer’s Association is a great place to discover information about memory health. Their website covers everything from age-related memory changes to early symptoms of memory loss (as well as the how’s and why’s of evaluating your memory).
Hallie’s note: It’s easy to go overboard with anxiety every time you loose your keys, especially if you have a history of Alzheimer’s in your family. I looked up the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s on the Alzheimer’s Association page, and was relieved to find that I have none.
Tip #5: Do a word search
For each of the five words below, see how many other words you can come up using any (or all) of the same letters. This word search game will shift your usual way of thinking, and give your brain a boost with some nimble thinking. For an extra challenge, give yourself just 2 minutes per word.
RESOLUTION SUFFICIENT BENEFICENCE SYNAPSE PROPAGATION
Hallie’s notes: This was another popular tip, and I found it both challenging and fun! I started by limiting myself to two minutes per word but found myself going back over the course of the day to add more. This tip is great because all you need are a couple long words, a pen, and some paper. Then you’re ready for a brain boost!
Tip #6: Check your blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) can dramatically increase your risk of a stroke. Strokes can seriously injure the brain, and are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. You can get your blood pressure checked at most pharmacies. If your blood pressure is high, followup with your doctor. Simple changes in diet and exercise can reduce hypertension and your risk of stroke!
Hallie’s notes: I’m lucky because I’ve always had low blood pressure. This week I had it checked at the pharmacy by Lumosity HQ and was happy to see it’s still a low to normal 112/65.
Tip #7: Color your life
If you haven’t drawn a picture since you left elementary school, today’s the day! Even if they’re done only briefly, new or different activities like coloring refresh our attention, get us to try new (or rarely used) skills, and challenge us to see the world in a different way.
Hallie’s notes: Though I got some pretty funny looks from the rest of the Lumosity team while I was working on this tip, I really enjoyed drawing my picture. If you start to feel silly pulling out the markers or crayons and doodling, remember that it’s for your brain!
For more brain health tips, visit Dr. Green’s website totalbrainhealth.com. We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. What tips to you already do, which do you want to start doing, and which sound the most fun to you?