When someone asks you to think about health, wellness and fitness, you usually think about physical health, exercise or nutrition.
As people age, they often concentrate on improving and maintaining their physical health, when they should also be working on their cognitive or brain health.
Since this is Brain Health Awareness Week (March 11-17), I would like to share a few things you can do to maintain a healthy brain.
Getting enough good, quality sleep is important along with eating a heart healthy diet and exercising regularly.
I have heard the phrase “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain” more than once while working with this topic.
Lowering your stress levels and keeping solid social connections and support also contribute to achieving good brain health. Researchers agree that challenging your brain daily is also beneficial and necessary to maintain brain health and delay cognitive decline as we get older.
You are never too young or old too start practicing brain “fitness.” We need to challenge our brains with many different activities. It is essential to reach beyond what is comfortable and try new exercises and activities that are interesting, varied and make us think a little more.
If an activity becomes too easy, we are not really exercising anymore, so we have to adjust the level of difficulty so that we feel challenged again. Not only is it important to get out of our comfort zone, but variety is also key.
Our brain has many different areas to keep “fit.” Just as we wouldn’t be considered physically fit if we only exercised our legs, we couldn’t achieve total brain health if we only focus on one area such as short-term memory. When we practice brain fitness, we also have to exercise the areas of critical thinking, spatial reasoning, and long-term memory.
Do you have to take a class to practice brain fitness? No. Will you be more likely to practice brain exercises while having a good time with others if you do? Yes!
I facilitate brain exercise classes each month called Wits Fitness Brain Training. The classes are held at the Sullivan Senior Center on the fourth Monday at 1 p.m. and the Life Center in Toledo on the fourth Friday at 10:30 a.m.. On the first Monday I also teach at the LifeSpan Center in Coles County at 10 a.m. and at the Shelby County Senior Center at 1 p.m. Note – this month I will be in Coles County on March 18 at 10 a.m. and in Shelby County on the March 28 at 1 p.m. due to an illness earlier this month. There is no fee to attend and everyone is welcome! If you have any questions you can contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 217-543-3755. We always seem to have a great time at these classes. I tell people that you are never too old to get started, but the earlier you start challenging your brain, the better! So what are you waiting for? Start working out your brain right away!
For more information on this topic or other family life-related topics, contact Cheri Burcham at University of Illinois Extension at 217-543-3755 or at email@example.com For more information on University of Illinois Unit 19 programming and to read more helpful articles, visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call us at 217-345-7034. Also visit the Family Files Blog at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hkmw/eb380/