Sudoku or crossword puzzles are great for cognitive function, but these activities provide diminishing benefits once we start seeing the patterns. So, what are the things we can do to improve cognitive function as we age? 

It’s all about building our cognitive reserve, which is the brain’s ability to withstand decline. Through the five pillars of brain health, we can increase our cognitive reserve and use our brain to create stronger networks while navigating around problem areas.

What are these five pillars of brain health? This blog post recaps what we learned from Mike Gelfgot, COO of Activate Brain & Body, at an event in the Wealthquest Learning Center. Let’s dive in!

1. Movement/Activity and 2. Learning

Mike combined these two concepts because they are interconnected in the Cognitive Circuit program for building cognitive reserve. Movement and activity have been associated with improved brain health for decades. However, they’re just one part of the process. You must also have focus and attention when doing physical activities. Combining the two improves your short-term memory, stamina, self-control, and various other attributes.

Combining moderate-intensity exercises with tasks that help you think improves neuroplasticity. This practice is called dual-task training, and it helps the brain adapt when doing exercise. The simplest example of this training is solving a math problem while walking or marching in place. Through dual-task training that prioritizes functional exercises, you can enhance your ability to concentrate while also building stamina.

3. Relaxation

The next pillar of brain health is relaxation. Stress is a natural response since it helps us get out of dangerous situations. However, chronic stress is harmful. It can cause inflammation in the brain, which kills the neurons and reduces your cognitive reserve. These issues can escalate into mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. 

To help reduce stress and relax the mind, try the following:

  1. Assess your sleep and make changes to achieve regular waking and sleeping times.
  2. Do regular stretches to relieve the body of tension.
  3. Meditate for at least five minutes regularly to calm the mind.

4. Nutrition

Nutrition is another important aspect of brain health. Avoiding foods that can cause inflammation in the body is key to ensuring good cognitive reserves. Based on Wealthquest programs, you can follow the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet or MIND Diet. It can help improve brain health, lower the odds of dementia, and slow down brain aging by 7.5 years. You should also be more mindful of what you’re consuming and start better eating habits. 

5. Socialization

The final pillar of brain health is socialization. The brain thrives in novelty, forging new connections whenever we experience something new. As we age, we may become averse to social settings and prefer the comfort of our homes. However, the lack of socialization can actually kill brain cells. You have to put in the effort to meet new people and forge relationships. Socialization can increase happiness, decrease loneliness, and help sharpen memory.

The Wealthquest Learning Center

At Wealthquest, holistic health–mental, physical, financial, and social–is our aim. Because we believe all parts of life are interconnected. So we designed the Wealthquest Learning Center to host events, build community, and work together toward holistic wellness.

For informational purposes only. Not intended as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security or strategy. Not legal or tax advice. Opinions expressed in this commentary reflect subjective judgments of the author based on conditions at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice.

Missed An Event?

Watch The Replay