It's true that as you get older, you can have issues with memory and focus. But in some instances, young people can have cognitive problems.
3 Natural Ways to Stay Mentally Sharp
Anyone can use these techniques to boost their brainpower, and we would like to share three of them with you.
We all know exercise is good for our body and our mood, but now science has discovered that it can also keep your mind sharp, and if you have ADHD, it may help control your symptoms.
It kind of makes sense when you think about it. Vigorous exercise pumps blood throughout your body, including the brain.
This blood oxygenates the brain cells, increasing alertness. But, it also does something else.
Research shows that aerobic exercise carves new pathways in the brain and increases the production of neurochemicals that promote the growth and repair of brain cells. (1)
It may also increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, crucial neurotransmitters for memory and mood. (2)
And one more thing: exercise has been shown to improve cognitive and academic performance in those with ADHD. (3, 4)
Any moderately intense exercise -- i.e., one that elevates your heart rate for at least 30 minutes, four or five days a week -- will help keep your brain sharp. (Jogging and brisk walking are terrific brain-boosting aerobic exercises.)
But please always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Yoga is a mental, spiritual, and physical practice that has been around for over 5,000 years.
Multiple studies suggest that regular yoga practice may benefit cognitive performance, especially attention and verbal memory, in those with mild cognitive decline and dementia. (5, 5a) (Alzheimer's disease, a condition that affects around 6.2 older adults in America, is the most common form of dementia.) (5, 5a)
But yoga does not just support better cognitive function in older adults. In one study, 200 schoolchildren aged seven to nine were randomly assigned to either a yoga or a physical activity group.
Their cognitive performance was assessed at three months, and then a follow-up in another three months.
Researchers concluded that yoga was just as effective as physical activity at improving cognitive performance in these children. (6)
These findings are interesting because most yoga forms are low intensity and don't cause a super-elevated heart rate. So, something other than aerobic activity is at play here.
Researchers suggest that yoga’s emphasis on concentration and focus boosts mental sharpness. (7)
Regardless of the reason, this is excellent news for those who cannot perform intense exercises but still want to benefit from its cognitive-enhancing effects.
Meditation is a practice that generally involves focusing on something for a set period.
It's perhaps not surprising, then, that research studies suggest that meditation can improve various cognitive functions, including attention and memory. (8)
Its positive effect on brain activity has been demonstrated in neuro-imaging research. (9)
And here's the best part. You don't have to meditate for hours to improve focus, concentration, and memory. As little as ten minutes a day of mindfulness meditation can do the trick.
In one study, researchers instructed the subjects to concentrate on the sensation of breaths as they inhaled and exhaled -- i.e., the feeling of the lungs expanding and contracting or the feeling of air flowing in and out of the nostrils.
When thoughts or sense impressions arose, they were instructed to acknowledge them and return to focusing on their breaths. (11)
As simple as it sounds, this practice does wonders for the brain.
The researchers believe that by repeatedly activating the same neural networks that play a crucial role in cognitive tasks, the brain becomes more efficient, sharpening the mind. (12)
Here's to Your Mind
We hope these techniques help you think and feel better. They have certainly worked for us!
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