7 Essential Paths to Brain Fitness During the Summer
Chances are, now that summer's here, you aren't thinking much about brain fitness (if you think about it at all). No, you're thinking about playing tag, eating watermelon, or lying on the beach in the sun doing absolutely nothing, and I don't blame you. But activities that boost physical and brain fitness during the summer can help you (and your family) enjoy the long summer days even more, and be ready for next fall - when cooler weather and challenging classes will require more of both the brain and the body.
Brain Fitness: It's About Your Health
Silly as it sounds, it's easy to forget that the brain is a part of the body. We can't see it, so we don't think about its health - until it starts to malfunction… Just like the heart, or liver, or other organs; just like the skin, bones and muscles, our brains are affected by simply taking better care of ourselves. There are things that only specific training can help, like weak muscles, or cognitive skills. But overall health goes a long way to making the most of the body and brain - even before training is applied.
Brain Fitness: Summer Activities for Brain Health
Consider a few things that will boost overall fitness this summer, and how brain fitness can also be affected.
- Exercise - Physical activity affects the body in many helpful ways, including increased blood flow and the release of serotonin into the bloodstream. Probably most interesting is that exercise promotes neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons). Take advantage of the summer months by combining lots of team sports with a brain training program (which also stimulates the growth of new neurons).
- Drink water - The human body would be lost without H20. We're practically made of the stuff (roughly 60 percent of body weight is water). We have to consume lots of the stuff we're made of to keep our bodies functioning. The brain is no exception. Keep all your tissues hydrated by drinking at least 64 fluid oz. of water per day and you'll be amazed how much better everything will work.
- Take a class - Acquiring a skill is different from learning in a classroom and uses different parts of our cognition. Take an art class, guitar lessons, or learn to play a new sport to give your brain a chance to stretch in a new direction.
- Read a book - Specifically, read a book on a subject with which you are not familiar. It will be hard at first, but just like practicing to play a song on the piano, your brain will get used to the subject matter and the author's style, and by the end of the book you'll find it's easier to read than it was at the beginning - if you persevere. This is a way to train your own brain! And the best part is, you can sit outside in the park or on the beach and read during the summer, which leads us to…
- Go outside - One of the best things about summer is the longer, hotter days, and the fact that you can spend more time outside. If you go long enough without, you'll feel depressed and fatigued. It's not just the sunlight, it's also the fact that sunlight generates vitamin D, and if you're deficient in vitamin D (as most people are), you'll feel pretty crummy. The brain needs sunlight because the body needs sunlight. It's like water. Everything just works better when you get lots of it.
- Get a partner - Any exercise or healthy endeavor is taxing and takes a certain amount of discipline and mental toughness to be consistent, even when the benefits are good and the activity is enjoyable. Getting a partner, a coach, a trainer, or a friend to do healthy things with makes the tough parts so much easier, and you'll have more fun along the way too. This is one reason why LearningRx's programs are so successful. All of our students have a trainer who works with them one-on-one to help them all the way through, challenging them and encouraging them through the difficult parts, and in many cases, becoming a friend and mentor.
- Do the right kind of brain training - Brain fitness has gotten a lot of press lately, so learn to distinguish between the helpful and not-so-helpful types of brain training, and then sign up for a (good) brain training program. Summer is the ideal time to do this because training won't conflict with school. Many parents agree that brain training was the best thing they could have done for their child and summer is a great time to start...just in time to prepare for their next school year.
To learn more about our programs, please visit our LearningRx brain training website.