Our ability to learn and remember is dependent on more than just the hours we spend studying a subject. Our daily activities can limit the cognitive declines associated with aging and can improve the parts of our brain that are responsible for learning and memory. Here are 4 easy ways you can boost your brain power.
Increase exercise intensity.
All exercise helps boost mood and brain activity, but intense exercise may be more beneficial for learning. A study published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that vocabulary learning was 20% faster after high intensity exercise (sprinting) when compared to lower intensity exercise and rest.
Tip: Add 30 to 60 second bouts of jogging to your walking routine, or incorporate short sprints into your run. Both will increase the intensity of your workouts.
Eat apples and onions.
These foods contain the flavonoid quercetin. This antioxidant has been found to protect brain cells from the free radical damage that leads to cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Tip: Add thinly sliced apples and onions to your green salads, or make a Waldorf salad using chopped apples, diced onion, dried cranberries, Greek yogurt, and honey.
Start strength training.
Strength training is an important component of an effective exercise regimen. It builds muscle to make daily activities easier, tones the body to change the way you look, and it can help you better maintain your weight loss. If these benefits haven’t convinced you to strengthen your muscles, research now suggests that it will also help your brain. A recent study found that resistance exercise improved learning and memory as much as aerobic exercise.
Tip: Pumping iron at the gym isn’t a requirement. Add equipment-free moves to your workouts 2-3 days per week with push-ups, dips, squats, lunges, and abdominal exercises.
Taking time to clear your mind and meditate can have a significant influence on your mental wellbeing. One study shows it will boost your brain power as well. In the study, people who meditated for 30 minutes a day for 8 weeks showed positive changes in the density of gray matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with learning and memory.
Tip: Start by setting aside 5 minutes per day to be silent and focus on your breathing. Gradually add more time to your meditation sessions each week.