Interested in how to ignite and grow those roughly 100 billion all-important neurons that make up your brain? You’re definitely not alone.

There are two primary reasons why brain health continues to receive increased attention across the fitness and general healthcare industry.

First, research continues to unveil the miraculous powers the brain holds not only over our fitness and functional capacity, but also our emotional, spiritual, social, and overall psychological well-being.

Second, with an average of 10,000 people turning the age of 65 every day in the United States, there has been a dramatic increase in the sheer number of individuals particularly interested in brain health as they age.

Fitness professionals, healthcare practitioners, and the general population are all looking for more knowledge on how to maintain and build brain health as we age so that more years of healthy, happy living can be experienced.

What we do (in terms of physical activity and exercise) and how we fuel our body and mind (what we eat) are two variables that dramatically impact the increase or decline in brain health and performance.

Below you will find 3 foods and 3 exercises that are sure to illuminate your neurons and boost brainpower! If you’d rather watch this content, scroll up to find everything listed here in video format.

Foods:

Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas) and Pumpkin Seed Oil

Not only do pumpkin seeds contain Omega 3 fatty acids (which are acknowledged for their benefit in boosting memory and improving mental health), they also contain cancer risk-reducing antioxidants and immune system stimulants! And if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds contain magnesium and glutamate, which are known for reducing anxiety and having a soothing, calming effect on the brain.

Pick up some pumpkin seeds (which may be available shelled and are commonly called “pepitas”) at your local grocery store.  Or get some pumpkin seed oil and put it over a salad, use it as a dipping sauce or simply take a tablespoon as a supplement for a quicker, easier brain boost.

Blueberries

Free radicals are unstable molecules in your body that can damage your cells. This stress can accelerate your brain’s aging process, negatively affecting brain function, impacting things like memory and movement.

Blueberries are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all foods! Be sure that these super fruits are part of your daily diet – incorporate them into smoothies, spreads, salads, or just eat them plain. An entire cup of blueberries contains just 84 calories and can do wonders to fight free radicals in your body.

Fresh Wild-Caught Salmon

The natural oils found in salmon are full of Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are essential for brain health. Put simply, consuming this fatty fish has been clinically shown to stimulate the growth of neurons! The consumption of salmon also has links to improving mood and reducing stress.

And for those of you who are impacted by forms of dementia like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, consuming fresh salmon may reduce the onset of symptoms like memory loss, cognitive decline, and muscle tremors. Be sure to purchase wild-caught and not farm-raised salmon to get the most benefit for your brain as farm-raised fish contains much less of these important nutrients!

Exercises:

Thumb-Pinky Finger Drill

Fine motor skill challenges are great for brain health. Using your fingers and hands in dynamic tasks stimulate nerve endings that go right to your brain. In this drill, while seated or standing, raise both hands about 12” away from your chest. On one hand, put up only your thumb (like you’re giving someone a “thumbs up”). On the other hand, extend only your pinky finger and fold the other fingers and thumb in. Now, simply switch. On the hand with the thumb up, lower the thumb and extend the pinky. On the hand with the pinky extended, fold in the pinky and raise the thumb. Repeat this drill as fast as you can for 20-30 seconds (see video above for more instruction).

Hyper -Focus Vision on Moving Object While Balancing or Moving

Your eyes are literally embedded into your brain, making for a very intimate connection. Visual challenges stimulate the ocular-motor reflex (simply put as the connection between vision and movement), which impacts many important regions of the brain. So, visual challenges involve full brain integration – which is great for boosting brainpower!

In this drill, we place the body in a position where balance is mildly challenged. While maintaining balance, we track the movement of an object with our eyes. The object moving can be anything – a ball that a partner is holding and moving around in front of you, for example. Here, we are using the ActivMotion Glimpse Bar as it provides an incredible stimulus to the visual, muscular and proprioceptive systems (see video above for more instruction).

Vestibular System Activation

The vestibular system is your built-in balance sensing system. Located in your inner ears, this fluid-filled system detects shifts in equilibrium, and responds by activating specific muscles to stabilize the body and prevent falling. As we age, this system decreases in sensitivity, which is one reason why older individuals have higher fall risks.  To stimulate the vestibular system, all we do in this drill is purposely move the head as if we were gesturing “no” while also engaging in a balance position or exercise (see video above for more instruction).

Bonus: completing any of these exercises while standing and balancing on one foot (hard) or staggering your feet far apart (a little easier) will create even more neural integration and further boost your brainpower!!!

Consume the foods and complete the exercises above to generate new brain cells and add more years of happy, healthy, passionate living to your life!!!

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