Good nutrition and exercise are habits many people want to attain but struggle with. Eating nutritiously and exercising regularly not only benefit your body, but your brain as well. Oxidative damage naturally occurs to cells as we age, however the impact of oxidation on cells can be decreased when we consume antioxidants. Carl W. Cotman, Ph.D., recommends eating a variety of foods rich in antioxidants to help decrease the amount of oxidative damage that occurs naturally as we progress through life.
Ensuring proper nutrition and exercising daily keeps your brain healthy and increases the amount of blood flowing through it. A study done for The Alzheimer’s Project found that physical exercise greatly increases problem solving skills and the ability to adjust to one’s surroundings. Physical exercise also raises levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor neurons (BDNF), a normal brain protein associated with learning ability. These neurons are found in the same part of the brain that is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, and increasing levels of BDNF neurons increases one’s ability to learn faster. Strengthening this area of the brain has the potential to delay the process of Alzheimer’s disease. Everyone can raise levels of BDNF through daily exercise and healthy eating habits. Daily exercise can include taking walks and other moderate outdoor activities. (www.alz.org)
Mental exercise is important as well. Brain puzzles that encourage problem solving can keep your brain sharp and healthy in the long run.
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthy and exercise regularly (www.polymic.com). Despite all the enthusiasm to jump on the treadmill and fill our plates will things from a garden, 92% of people don’t achieve their goals (www.forbes.com). Here are some tips to keep you on track to a healthier lifestyle:
1. Set realistic goals. When developing your goals, make sure they are not too close or too far from where you are currently. For example, if you don’t spend any time during the week to exercise, specify a time each day to go for a walk. You may increase your goals as time progresses.
2. Know WHY. If you want to do something but don’t have proper motivation, it won’t get done. Think about why you want to achieve your goals, whether it’s to have more energy during the day or be there for your family, you’ll need a rock that will keep you going when you want to quit. (Long-term motivators work best.)
3. Write them down. Write down your goals and your reasons for accomplishing them. Laminate them if you wish. Post them where you will see them everyday so you don’t forget as time passes.
4. Tell everyone. Telling people makes you accountable. Explain what you’re trying to do, and ask them to help keep you on track to achieving your goals. It’s easier to accomplish something when you’ve got a team cheering you on.
5. Reward yourself. When you reach a goal do not be afraid to celebrate! Go ahead and treat yourself to a movie with friends, or a trip to your favorite frozen yogurt place (just don’t go overboard). It provides further motivation to reach your next goal.