A workout for your brain

With Alzheimers and dementia at the forefront of concerns today, many of us worry about our future as we age, and perhaps in answer to this concern, there are an increasing number of clinics and courses offering brain fitness programs.

Dr Kirk Daffner, a neurologist and the medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Improving Memory, has said it makes very good sense to promote cognitive health using a variety of approaches and he is embracing the concept of ‘brain training’ whilst awaiting more data

Alvaro Pascual-Leone, director of the Brain Fit Program at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said “People come in with problems accessing words or memories or making decisions, and we do see them improve, although we can’t say it’s from any one therapy.

Brain fitness programs encompass a variety of exercises and therapies such as:

  • Physical exercise, as exercise has been shown to increase activity in parts of the brain that have to do with executive function and memory and promotes the growth of brain cells.
  • Cognitive training using exercises for your thinking skills such as computer or video games, sharpening your response times and attention.
  • Nutrition. Change of diet to a Mediterranean diet which appears to promote brain health and lessen the risk of developing memory problems.
  • Sleep. Better sleep patterns.
  • Meditation. Exercises such a Tai Chi appear to increase something termed ‘cognitive reserve’ That’s the capacity of the brain to switch between different tasks, allocate resources, and handle unexpected stressors in a way that makes us better able to cope with day-to-day life.

Some instant memory boosters suggested include:

  • Names. When you first meet someone, associate the name with an image. Then use the person’s name in conversation.
  • Where you put things. Always put go-to items, such as keys and eyeglasses, in the same places. For others, say aloud where you put them.
  • Things people tell you. Ask the person to speak slowly, so you can concentrate better; repeat to yourself what the person said, and think about its meaning.

For more tips, you can look a the Harvard Special Health Report Improving Memory (www.health.harvard.edu/IM ).

Cognitive brain health and emotional wellness are at the forefront of our thinking here at The Odyssey Partnership/Epsom Hypnotherapy.

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