7 Keys To Brain Fitness: A Quick Review

November 3, 2009 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Keys by spetsk on Stock.XchngIt’s been a while since we went over the underlying concept of this weblog – seven “keys” that unlock brain fitness; I think it’s time for a review!  After all, the more often we repeat information, the more entrenched it becomes in our memory. So here goes!

The Three Activity Keys

Physical Activity:

Moderate, regular physical activity has some surprising effects for the brain;  it stimulates chemicals that act almost like fertilizer in the brain, causing the growth of new brain cells! Exercise also improves blood flow in the brain, increasing the oxygen and nutrients available, as well as reducing toxins.  Combine these direct effects with the benefits to the heart, lungs, and over all health, and its clear that if you’re looking for a basic brain-boosting activity, start with a daily walk or other exercise!

Mental Activity:

Staying mentally active as we age is crucial to a healthy brain; it stimulates new neural connections between both new and existing brain cells, reinforces old connections, and helps keep the brain flexible, supporting neuro plasticity.  The best  mental activities for the brain? Those that are new, novel, varied, and provide an ongoing, ever-increasing challenge – which is the theory behind brain training systems like the ones produced by this blog’s sponsor.

Social Activity:

Study after study seems to show that the best brain health in seniors is found in those who stay socially active.  Exactly why is still a bit of a mystery, but social activity with other humans stimulates the brain in unique and complex ways, involving emotional, language, memory and learning centers.   Social contact also helps ward off depression, anxiety and isolation, all risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive problems.

Keys by spetsk on Stock.Xchng3 Keys of Health & Wellness

Nutrition & Diet

Your brain needs the right blend of nutrients for good health – nutrients that help build, protect and repair brain connections and cells, nutrients that help you to think clearly and quickly, nutrients that support the heart, lungs and nervous system so that in turn, they can better support brain function.  Not eating the wrong foods is important, too – the most brain healthy diets are low in sugars and “bad fats”,

Stress Reduction

While short term stress can cause your thoughts to sharpen, long term, ongoing stress has much more sinister effects on the brain.  It interferes with the formation and recall of memory, weakens many executive functions of the brain (things like focus and decision making) prevents the formation of new cells or connections, and, eventually, actually kills off brain cells.   So a program of reducing stress, developing positive coping mechanisms, and learning to relax even under difficult circumstances can go a long way towards protecting your brain’s health and function.


Everyone is familiar with the groggy, dull brain that results from a poor nights sleep – but ongoing sleep problems have more profound effects.  And the cognitive problems associated with poor sleep are cumulative – losing just two hours of sleep a night over two weeks can cause the same cognitive problems as having stayed up for 48 hours straight!  More ominously,  recent studies link long term sleep deprivation with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, and suggest that sleep may be involved in the reduction of harmful plaques and toxins in the brain.

The Key of Connection

Keys by spetsk on Stock.XchngPurpose, Connection & Spirit

This is probably the most difficult to describe and least researched aspect of brain fitness, but it almost certainly plays a big part in our mental vitality and brain health as we age.  Having a sense of personal purpose, a sense of connection to the world, and some sort of spiritual support  (whether religious or not) helps ward off depression and isolation, reduces stress, keeps us engaged with the world around us, and gives us a reason for tending to all of the other elements in brain fitness.

So making an intentional effort to find meaning in our lives (even as our roles in society and family change with age) is important to staying mentally healthy, and is an important part of keeping our brains fit and functional.

There You Have It:
The 7 Keys, In Review

It may seem complex, even overwhelming, when you first look at how much is involved in maintaining brain health – but it can be boiled down to one simple concept:   living a healthy, vital and challenging lifestyle is self-sustaining…  the very act of living a vital, active life helps maintain  and protect the brain function that allows us to be vital, healthy and active even as the most senior of seniors.


Just a few days left! Have you sent in your entry yet? Submit a 500 word essay by November 5th, & you could win a $2500 brain fitness system for a senior friend or family member.  Check out the full details of Dakim’s “Give Thanks for Loved Ones” Contest”

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About This Blog

A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness



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