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Self-Care

Tips For Improving Brain Fitness And Mental Health


To improve brain fitness, memory and general mental health, the Mature Market Institute produced Ten Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Brain by Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist.

Nussbaum's tips include:

  • Don't Smoke. Smoking represents a major risk factor for stroke, not the mention cancer and heart disease.

  • Follow your physician's advice. A healthy relationship with your personal physicians is critical to living a healthy life. Keep in mind, however, that only you are in charge of your body, so develop a proactive approach and take responsibility for those negative aspects of your life that may decrease your longevity potential.

  • Increase physical activity. It is well understood that blood flow stimulated by exercise is good for the heart, lungs and muscles - and it's beneficial for the brain as well. People reluctant to commit to a regular program of physical activity may be more motivated if they understand how it helps them stay sharp mentally.

  • Reduce the overall calories you consume daily. Pay close attention to how much you eat, and try not to go to bed stuffed. Also, think about what you're consuming, eat healthy and don't feel guilty about "wasting" food - most people would be better off if they ate only 80 percent of what they ordinarily consume at every meal.

  • Socialize and have fun. Try to stay engaged and enjoy life. Social interaction is an essential part of feeling and staying alert and young - and besides that, it's enjoyable!

  • Develop your spirituality. Evidence continues to emerge that prayer, meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques are health-promoting activities, and have neurophysiological benefits. At the very least, they help combat the stresses of life and focus on the challenge ahead.

  • Cross-train your brain. Brain fitness depends on combining a variety of activities - such as playing music, word games and physical activity - that differ in frequency, intensity and variety. A single activity, not matter how challenging, is not sufficient to sustain the kind of mental acuity that virtually everyone can achieve. Although activities such as reading and doing crossword puzzles are good on their own, they offer only partial benefits, unless they are part of a comprehensive program for long-term brain health.

  • Maintain your role and sense of purpose. Retirement means many things, but it doesn't have to mean losing who you are. It can also represent an opportunity to find new ways to participate in society, and possibly, discover even greater relevance.

  • Start saving for the future now. Research suggests that having some money late in late correlates with better health. If you're unsure where to begin to save for the future, consider retaining a financial planner. You're never too young or too old to begin saving.

  • Grow your social network. Develop hobbies, promote lifelong pursuits, and grow a social network of meaningful relationships. Research indicates that individuals who live in isolation have a higher risk of developing dementia than those who remain integrated in society. Lifelong community involvement, particularly activities with friends, family and partners is an investment in brain health.

For more information about the MetLife Mature Market Institute, visit www.metlife.org.


© 2007 Health Resources Publishing