While mental exercise is very important for brain health, that does not mean you never need to break a sweat. Physical exercise helps your brain stay sharp. It increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. Perhaps most importantly, exercise plays an important role in neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new neuronal connections.
Besides yearning to maintain a svelte body for as long as I live, the other reasons why I force myself to exercise five times a week in the morning are to keep diseases and aches away as well as to prevent my gray matter from slipping away. Having my quiet ME TIME in the morning where I exercise before sunrise is something that I could not trade anything for it. It is something that I look forward to every morning.
As I was flipping through the newspapers a few days ago, I came across an article that I would like to share with my readers:
Just as I have always exhorted in my blog posts, exercise is just as important as healthy eating. If I could wake up at 5 a.m. to exercise when I had two under-two toddlers and still holding a full-time job, so can you. Some sacrifices have to be made. For me, I sacrifice TV time. I do not chase Korean dramas like many of my friends do as I have to sleep early to wake up early to exercise the next morning.
Besides physical exercise, these are some tips that may help you improve your memory:
1. Don’t swallow it whole
When someone gives you a phone number, use ‘chunking’ as a way of remembering it.
When given a string of numbers to remember such as 123957001066, break it down into 12 39 57 00 10 66 or even 1239 5700 1066.
Try to chunk numbers according to something you find meaningful, like the age of someone you know, an address or a famous date (1066 Battle of Hastings) then they form a story to help you remember.
2. Quit smoking
It can cause significant damage to your memory, say researchers at Northumbria University.
When 69 students aged 18 to 25 were asked to memorise a list of tasks, those who had never smoked did best, remembering to complete 81% of the tasks.
The smokers – on an average of 60 cigarettes a week – managed to get through only 59%.
A separate study at King’s College London found that middle-aged smokers performed less well on tests compared with those without the tobacco habit.
3. Give us a cue
If there’s something you have to do every day at a specific time and often forget, a technique called 'implementation intentions' is very simple. For example, say to yourself ‘whenever I have my first cup of tea in the morning, I will also take my pills’. Or ‘when the lunchtime news finishes, I’ll do my exercises’.
I have tried using this tip to remind myself to do important things and it always worked!
4. Use imagery
One type of mnemonic – or memory aid – relies on imagery rather than words.
“A classic way of remembering a person’s name is to try and imagine it (or something associated to it) on the person’s face,” says Dr Moulin.
So, if you meet John Bridge – imagine a bridge on his face. Psychologists have found that the more bizarre and vivid the image the better it works.
I am also using this technique to teach my girls to remember things. For eg. I tell them that 'synonym' means same meaning. The 'S 'in Synonym = 'S' in Same meaning.
5. Drink green tea
Chinese researchers say regularly drinking it could improve your memory and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease thanks to its key ingredient – the organic molecule EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate), an antioxidant that protects against age-related degenerative illnesses.
6. Eat like our European friends
A Mediterranean diet – low in red meat and dairy and high in omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and nuts – can help preserve memory and reduce dementia risk, say US researchers.
The study, in the journal Neurology, studied the diets of 17,478 people with an average age of 64.
Those who followed the Med diet were 19% less likely to develop problems with memory.
7. Watch your food intake
Eating too much can double the risk of memory problems in old age, according to US research. Studies found a high-calorie intake can substantially increase the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, characterised by memory loss, which can precede dementia.
8. Say it out loud
This is the easiest of all methods for remembering everything from where you put your car keys to what you need from the shop to revising for a test, say memory experts.
Studies found that by saying out loudly what you want to remember or even mouthing it – will help with recall.
9. Get enough sleep
The less you sleep, the more your cognitive abilities—including your memory—will suffer, concludes a study from Finland. Some recent research from the University of Lübeck in Germany has also suggested that sleep is a time when your brain sorts and stores new memories. If you're sleep-deprived, your brain won't retain or recall information as well as it normally would. And no amount of catch-up sleep will bring back those lost memories, the German study authors say.
10. Seek out novel experiences
If you're not challenging your brain with new places and information, your memory suffers, shows research from University College London. Familiar activities allow your noodle to laze into autopilot. But novelty—whether you're exploring a new hiking trail or taking up Sudoku puzzles—can stimulate your brain and memory, the UK study (and plenty of others) shows.
11. Challenge your brain
One study from Scotland found people with jobs that require lots of high-level, complex brain processes (architects, for example) tend to have better memories later in life. But what if you don't have one of those jobs? Dissecting the information you encounter in top-down, effortful ways can keep your memory sharp, indicates research from the University of Texas, Dallas. For example, after you watch a TV show, try to distill what you just saw into its parts. What was the point of the episode? What growth did the characters experience? Make your brain work, and you'll keep your memory sharp.
12. Laugh And De-stress
Stress and everything that goes along with it (inflammation, poor sleep) have been shown to mess with your memory. Laughter not only counteracts stress, but also improves your short-term memory, shows a series of research efforts from Loma Linda University. Just 20 minutes of watching a funny video was enough to bolster short-term memory, the researchers discovered.
13. Get your vitamin D
The past few years have seen a big surge in research linking vitamin D to all sorts of health benefits. Several of those studies drew connections between the "sunshine vitamin" and both brain health and memory. One, from Oregon Health And Science University, linked higher vitamin D levels to improved verbal memory scores. Another study, this one from the UK, hinted that D may protect the brain from dementia.
And I like the last one...
Several recent experiments have found that mind wandering may allow your brain to better catalogue and store memories. One study in the journal Neuron suggested daydreaming actually helps improve your memory in ways similar to sleeping or napping.
But I have to cut down on multitasking though!
On the other hand, multitasking—that is, switching quickly from one task to another without a break—may actually harm your brain's ability to recall information, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.