We all know that exercising regularly and adopting a healthy lifestyle is good for our physical well-being. But according to recent research making healthier life choices can be good for our brains too.
A new study has found that women who exercise vigorously are at a significantly lower risk of dying from a whole range of diseases. This may not come as a surprise, but the study author, Dr Jesús Peteiro, of University Hospital A Coruña, is more emphatic about the benefits of exercise than usual.
“Exercise as much as you can,” he said. “Fitness protects against death from any cause.”
Dr Peteiro is right of course; physical activity is a great way to stay healthy as we age and not just when it comes to our bodies. Another study, published by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden in 2018, found a clear link between our physical fitness in middle age and our risk of dementia.
The groundbreaking study monitored a group of women over the course of 44 years to monitor the impact of their fitness levels on dementia. The results were startling. In the fittest group of women, only 5% developed dementia, compared with 45% of the women who were not fit enough to complete the test.
Clearly there is a direct correlation between our body’s well-being and that of our brains. But while we all know the basics of physical fitness, training our brains is an area where many of us need a little extra help.
That’s why we’ve put together some quick and easy lifestyle tips that can help to keep your mind and body strong at any age.
1. Up Your Cardio Game
Taking up a cardio exercise, such as walking, hiking, running, swimming, dancing, aerobics classes, spinning, skiing, or kickboxing can give your brain a boost as well as your body.
This type of exercise makes us breathe harder and faster in order to send more oxygen to our bloodstream. Our heart rate also increases so that this oxygenated blood can pump around our bodies, but as well as fuelling our muscles it also goes straight to our brains.
Our brain then uses this oxygen to produce neurons, which help control things like memory and thought. As a result, by training your body you’re also training your brain, helping to protect against diseases like dementia in the process.
2. Try Out Tai Chi
Of course cardio isn’t for everyone. But the good news is that when it comes to your brain, it’s not all about cardio, and as you get older, it’s important to strike a balance in the types of exercise you choose.
Tai chi, for example, is a graceful, slow, gentle form of exercise that can be adapted to suit anyone. And yet, even though it is more sedate than its energetic alternatives, it still offers huge health benefits, especially for the mind.
An analysis of several different studies suggests tai chi can improve your cognitive function, your ability to multitask, manage time and make decisions. It’s no wonder then that people have been practicing this internal martial art for hundreds of years now.
3. “Bathe” In The Forest
This may sound odd, but forest bathing, also known as the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, has many benefits for the body and mind. This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply the act of being in nature, connecting with it through our senses and experiencing its atmosphere.
Yes, it may sound like something that was dreamed up in the 1960s, but scientific research shows that spending time in the woods doing shinrin-yoku actually lowers your levels of the main stress hormone, cortisol.
Cortisol is associated with a lot of negative mental issues including anxiety, depression, headaches, memory loss and concentration problems. So lowering the levels of it in your body is great news for your brain. Even better, all you need to do is spend some time with nature to achieve it.
4. Eat Your Cruciferous Veggies
Cruciferous plants like cauliflower, kale, broccoli and wasabi have many benefits, thanks to their high levels of a phytonutrient called glucosinolates.
Normally, these glucosinolates are locked inside, but when you chew or grate the plant, they mix with other nutrients to release powerful isothiocyanates. Research now shows these isothiocyanates have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which can be effective against depression, Alzheimer’s and many other diseases.
At our family-owned and operated farm, we know that getting the goodness out of cruciferous plants can be difficult. That’s why we use modern technology to transform all the parts of our wasabi crops into capsules, preserving all of its phytonutrients. It’s our way of making it easier for you to look after your health.
Whether you take care of your mind and body by changing your diet or doing tai chi, cardio or shinrin-yoku, remember Wowsabi is always here to give your brain a boost.