Last Updated on June 17, 2022 by Morris Green
Cognitive function is a term you may hear used in many education, health, and psychology circles. This term refers to the various abilities that essentially allow the brain to process and use information for both educational and practical purposes. There is still much to be learned about this topic, but many studies have shown that it is possible to both lose and gain cognitive function over the course of a lifetime. Exercising the brain on a routine basis helps ensure that it’s quickly and efficiently making connections to help with planning, decision making, memory, and much more.
Numerous things can cause impairment to cognitive function, from injuries and underlying health conditions to genetic factors and substance abuse. Fortunately, there are ways you can take better care of your brain to help ensure that it stays sharp. Many of these small changes can even help support good mental health as well.
Start With a Nutritious Diet to Support Brain Health
Any dietary choices that promote circulation, inhibit inflammation, and encourage healthy cell regeneration can be beneficial for brain health. Many experts recommend a diet that includes:
- Plenty of dark leafy greens to keep your cells healthy and strong
- Fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna, at least once or twice a week
- Walnuts for healthy fats and nutrients that support memory
- Antioxidant-rich berries to fight off free radicals that cause cell damage
Even with plenty of nutritious choices, it can be difficult to include all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to support brain health. Adding brain supplements can help you consume more of these beneficial nutrients. In addition, healthy dietary choices can help you feel better overall and may help limit anxiety and depression symptoms.
Avoid Practices That Can Inhibit Cognitive Function
Anything that can cause brain damage or decline can ultimately impair your cognitive function, so stay away from these types of activities. Drug and alcohol use can be some of the most dangerous offenders. High-contact or high-risk sports without the proper equipment can put you at risk for dangerous concussions that can negatively affect brain function. In addition, your brain can start to lose its abilities without enough stimulation and social interaction. Avoid binging too much television or social media for long periods of time and take steps to prevent isolation from developing in your life. Too much screen time and not enough time with family and friends can also make mental health issues much worse.
Exercise Your Brain
There are many ways you can exercise your brain to keep it actively firing those synapses that make your cognitive function abilities more robust. Anything that requires thought and concentration is great for the brain, so there’s no need to force yourself to complete some arduous tasks. Try something fun that appeals to you, such as:
- Playing a musical instrument
- Creating art, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, photography, and more
- Playing brain games on your phone or computer
- Working on puzzles, including jigsaw, word, and number variations
- Preparing a new recipe
- Playing board or card games
- Learning or trying something new
- Changing up your route home
There are so many ways to exercise your brain and keep it functioning at its best. In addition, these types of activities are great for boosting your mood and your mental health.
Exercise Your Body
Keeping your brain healthy isn’t just about mental exercise; physical exercise also plays a critical role in maintaining this important organ. Studies have shown that regular routine exercise along with the recommended amounts of vigorous exercise can help improve problem-solving abilities, circulation, memory, and mood. Exercise is also one of the most effective ways to control stress because it helps lower cortisol levels in the body. That release of endorphins that occurs during a good workout is also great for many mental health issues.
It’s important for everyone to commit to a lifetime of good brain health by taking steps to enhance and improve cognitive function. When you take good care of your brain, you can enjoy better mental and overall health as well.