How Mental and Brain Fitness Are One in the Same – Doctor Explains

The relationship between the body and the mind has been contemplated by poets, philosophers, and physicians throughout time. Keeping both the body and mind in excellent form helps strengthen their connection, but is one more essential than the other? 

When it comes to overall health, mental fitness is not considered as often as it should be. Dr. Porter emphasizes the importance of this facet of our well-being.

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The Importance of Mental Fitness and Brain Health

As a neuroscience expert who has spent a significant part of my career exploring the wonders of the human brain, I can confidently say that our mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness. In fact, I dare say they’re two sides of the same coin – each indispensable and intimately linked to the other.

Imagine for a moment a sleek, state-of-the-art sports car. It’s polished, fast, and built with exceptional craftsmanship. Now imagine, if you will, that this car is not maintained properly internally. Despite its impressive design, it will falter and underperform. It may still run, but not at the peak performance it was designed to achieve.

The brain is like the engine of that sports car, and mental fitness keeps its systems running smoothly. Even if our bodies are the epitome of physical health, subpar brain health can prevent us from truly thriving. So, why is brain fitness just as important as physical fitness? Let’s delve into the science.

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The Benefits of Mental Exercise and a Fit Mind

Brain fitness can help ward off cognitive decline as we age and plays a huge role in our emotional well-being.

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First, mental fitness is central to cognitive function. It impacts everything from memory and attention to problem-solving and decision-making. These are not abstract skills reserved for academic scholars, they are instrumental in navigating everyday life.

When your brain fitness is optimized, cognitive processes are sharper, more efficient, and more effective. Moreover, brain fitness can help ward off cognitive decline as we age.

Mental fitness also plays a crucial role in our emotional state. It has been found to boost resilience, enhance mood, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. These mental health benefits are essential to our overall well-being, just as physical fitness is. Mental and physical health are so interwoven that neglecting one can negatively affect the other.

How Do We Achieve Optimum Brain Fitness?

Just as regular physical exercise can prevent or delay the onset of physical ailments, mental workouts can improve brain fitness.

Neuroplasticity, the brain’s remarkable ability to adapt and change throughout life, is strengthened by mental exercises. Regular mental stimulation can help foster this plasticity, promoting a healthier brain as we age.

Exercise the Brain Daily

Just as we hit the gym to maintain physical health, we must exercise our brains to maintain mental health. That can be as simple as learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, or engaging in strategic games like chess.

Or try a simple task you do every day, like turning a doorknob, but with your non-dominant hand. These activities stimulate the brain, promoting neural connectivity and cognitive function.

Do you have a favorite brain-stimulating activity? Please share with the community in the comments below.

Mindfulness and Rest Are a Must

Proper rest can support cognitive function, ensuring you’re mentally fit.

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Mindfulness and relaxation are also critical aspects of brain fitness. Stress can take a significant toll on brain health, impairing cognitive function and emotional wellbeing.

When the brain is dealing with chronic low-level stress, it’s focused on survival first, so energy is not allocated to accomplishing new tasks. Spending time in nature, meditating, breathing exercises, and practicing mindfulness will help reduce overall stress.

Technologies like BrainTap can also maintain mental fitness by regulating brainwaves and using science-backed methods to help the brain help itself. BrainTap strengthens neural pathways with pulsating music and light that stimulate the brain into specific states.

The pulses trigger the brain to align with the frequency of those stimuli or beats, in effect leveraging the power of neuroplasticity to help the brain relax, refocus, and re-energize. This practice has been around for centuries but has been optimized by BrainTap.

Sleep, Nutrition and Exercise for Mental Fitness

Of course, combining mental and physical fitness is ideal, and they enhance each other. A recent study at McMaster University in Ontario combined brain training with physical exercise and monitored the results. They found that the group of exercisers who improved physical fitness also enhanced their memory and recall.

And the group that incorporated 20 minutes of brain training before or after a workout showed further boosted memory and recall capabilities.

One study found that brain training in conjunction with physical exercise enhanced memory and recall, improving brain fitness. 

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Finally, sleep and nutrition are key to maintaining not just brain functioning, but brain health, balance, and fitness. Quality sleep rejuvenates the brain, enhances memory and learning, and helps regulate mood. Nutrition provides the necessary fuel for optimal brain function.

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other brain-healthy nutrients can significantly improve brain fitness. Try to include dark chocolate, blueberries, leafy greens, turmeric, almonds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, avocado, green tea, walnuts, and fish in your diet. (Or watch this video and learn how to make this brain-supporting lion’s mane mushroom pasta recipe.) Imagine that sports car without proper fuel. Nutrition keeps the cylinders running smoothly.

Optimizing the Brain

The brain is the command center of our entire being, orchestrating our thoughts, actions, and emotions. Its fitness dictates how well we navigate the world, interact with others, and experience life itself. Just as we wouldn’t ignore the inner workings of a sports car, we shouldn’t neglect the health of our brains.

Brain fitness helps keep the brain in optimal shape. It’s not a luxury nor is it an option. It is a vital component of holistic health. As a society, we need to shift our perspective and start treating mental fitness with the same importance as physical fitness. After all, our bodies are only as healthy as our brains.

P.S. Did you know? Organic Authority has its own nutrition and wellness shop to meet your needs and help you take control of your health. Shop clean supplements for energy, sleep, inner beauty for skin support, protein, workouts, pantry items and more. Shop The Organic Authority Shop now.

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Note! The opinions and views expressed by the authors at Organic Authority in blogs and on social media and more, are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or position of Organic Authority, Inc and do not necessarily represent the views of Organic Authority sponsors and/or partners. Organic Authority content is for informational and entertainment purposes, and any views expressed should not be accepted as a substitute for qualified expertise. Any highlighted alternative studies are intended to spark conversation and are for information purposes only. We are not here to diagnose or treat any health or medical conditions, nor should this be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, even if it features the advice of medical practitioners and physicians. When making any lifestyle or health changes, consult your primary care physician.

 

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