Summer is undoubtedly the best time to go out and play. There is plenty to do, including walking, cycling and rowing.
It’s also the perfect time to take charge of our brain health. We often hear that being active is great for our heart and muscles, but let’s not forget what it can do for our brain. Exercise helps protect our brain cells and encourages the growth of new ones by increasing levels of growth factors called neurotrophins.
Exercising for brain health
When we have healthy brain cells, we can protect our memory and thinking skills. In fact, regular physical activity may even reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Having an active lifestyle is a great way to keep our brain in shape. But we can also complement exercise with other activities that can improve our brain health.
Here are some things you can do this summer:
Stay active with friends and family.
Social interactions have a great impact on the health of our brain and our quality of life. Being social can provide resistance to stress and inflammation, which can promote better cognitive function and slow the natural decline of memory as we age.
Advice: Go for a walk, run, or bike ride with some friends. Cheer up and good company will always come in handy!
Pack healthy snacks
You really are what you eat. Fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and kale, are high in antioxidants that are essential for brain function, protecting it from potentially toxic molecules.
Advice: Take advantage of Ontario’s great selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables and bring them as a snack for a hike.
Catch some Z’s
Getting a good night’s rest is usually easier after a good workout. Sleep helps us solidify our memories and strengthen the connections between our brain cells, which are important for keeping our learning and memory in check.
Advice: Wind down the day by reading a book instead of staring at a screen before bed.
Learn something new
We can keep our cognitive skills in check and build functional connections in the brain when we learn new skills.
Advice: Challenge yourself and try your hand at orienteering, a combination of physical outdoor adventure with map reading and navigation skills.
So go ahead, get active outdoors this summer. But don’t stop there because you can keep these good habits with you all year long. Your brain will thank you.
About the Ontario Brain Institute
The Ontario Brain Institute is a provincially funded, not-for-profit research center that seeks to maximize the impact of neuroscience and establish Ontario as a global leader in brain research, commercialization and care.
Thank you to our friends at the Ontario Brain Institute for providing this information and helping to sustain the Healthy Parks Healthy People movement.