New studies report that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being and is an important key to living a long and healthy life.
As study by UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years, had more grey matter volume throughout the brain, than non-meditating participants.
Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, president and medical director of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation has spent many years studying the meditative tradition called Kirtan Kriya and has found that daily 12 minute sessions of the practice can improve blood flow to the brain and possibly even increase levels of telomerase, an enzyme that slows cell aging. The practice is simple: While breathing deeply, chant the Sanskrit words saa, taa, naa, maa (which mean “my divine self”) While moving your thumb to touch your index, middle, ring, and pinkie fingers with each new sound. Like any meditation, it may help to lift anxiety and fatigue.
Still not sure where to start with meditation? CLICK HERE for some help.
Protect your Heart
It was found after an 8-year study that the more heart healthy habits people had, the less cognitive decline they exhibited. A stronger cardiovascular system means a stronger pipeline of nutrients to the brain. The seven heart healthy ideals are: Not smoking, Healthy body mass index, Physical activity, healthy total cholesterol, Healthy blood pressure, Healthy blood sugar and balanced diet.
Exercise for the brain
In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain. Aerobic exercise is great for body and brain: not only does it improve brain function, but it also acts as a “first aid kit” on damaged brain cells. Exercise affects the brain on multiple fronts. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the bodily release of many hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.
Women who strength trained twice a week in a study by researchers at the University of British Colombia, showed significantly less progression of white matter lesion in the brain than any other two groups who did. Also exercise benefits the brain by improving vascular health – but newly published research suggest it also combats the chronic neuroinflammation observed in Alzheimer’s , depression, and other brain diseases. Exercise has proven anti-inflammatory effects against diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, so that could be why it protects the brain health as well. Any type of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, cycling and swimming can have an anti-inflammatory effects.
From a behavioral perspective, the same antidepressant-like effects associated with “runner’s high” found in humans is associated with a drop in stress of the brain responsible for learning memory.
Not sure how to start an exercise program? CLICK HERE for help.
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