You should see your brain and your body as a pair of naughty but nice twins. If one twin misbehaves, the other will usually follow suit. If one twin is behaving, the other will most likely behave too.
Similarly, if your brain is tired, your body can also feel tired. If your body is feeling active, your brain should feel on top form too. What we’re getting at here, in a convoluted way, is that in order for your brain to work at an optimum condition, your body needs to be nourished, fit and healthy. And in order for your body to function at its best, your brain needs to be processing efficiently. They work in unison, so if you mistreat one, the other will feel the negative effects too.
If you’re looking for a quick fix to get brain and body fit, then good luck with that. If, however, you’re looking for cognitive and body tips to lace into your current and future way of living, then this article may just be the ticket.
We’ll uncover how to be the best at getting brain and body fit, without breaking the bank. As long as you’ve got some determination and gumption, you’ll crack it easily.
Science-Backed Brain & Body Fitness Tips
Swap Saliva More
Kissing, snogging, pecking, whatever you call it, has been proven to have some superb benefits for the brain and the body too. Let’s whizz through a handful of them:
- Body fit: By swapping saliva you’ll be exposed to new immune-boosting germs which can boost your immune system.
- Body fit: Kissing can tighten your facial muscles because (depending on how intense the snog) you can use up to 30+ muscles.
- Brain fit: Kissing can tap into your brain’s pleasure centre and help to release oxytocin and dopamine, both of which can boost your brain’s happiness levels. In return you’ll feel more up for sticking your trainers on and heading out for a run.
- Body & Brain fit: A study by Kory Floyd et al. found that “improvements in perceived stress, relationship satisfaction and total serum cholesterol” were experienced by couples who were asked to kiss more.
It seems you can lower your cholesterol, decrease stress and improve your relationship with just a bit of heavy petting.
Playing games, trying new experiences and learning new things can help to keep your brain super fit.
The Institute of Psychology, Germany, analysed a collection of studies and describes how “extensive learning experiences are thought to require prolonged activation of basic neurocognitive abilities such as executive control processes and long-term memory (Park et al., 2014).” They go on to describe how an “enriched environment, which provides a range of learning opportunities” can help to reduce “pathological processes that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease (Lazarov et al., 2005; Costa et al., 2007).” Keeping your brain as active as possible now, can have some positive effects in the future too.
A study by Barnes and Yaffe in 2011 found that a limited education was the most preventable risk factor for Alzheimer’s Dementia. (Barnes and Yaffe, 2011). Learning should never stop and we should all try to do something new at least once a month, small or big.
Brain training games are a great place to start. Peak’s app combines education and fun to push your brain further. We collaborate with neuroscientists and top universities too. We worked with Prof. Barbara Sahakian of Cambridge University to develop 2 science-backed games. The first is a memory game called Wizard.
One of the aims of the research was to identify “cognitive enhancers in patients… (including) a non-pharmacological method of enhancing motivation and cognition.” They found that “cognitive enhancers such as smart drugs and devices have the potential to provide benefits in healthy people.” They also found that by playing Peak’s memory game Wizard, you can potentially improve your memory. Peak is the perfect example of keeping your brain fit on a budget. Download Peak at the bottom of this article.
Neuroscientist Jean François Dartigues found that “a possible beneficial effect of board game playing on the risk of dementia could be mediated by less cognitive decline and less depression in elderly board game players.” That’s enough of an excuse to play Scrabble, Monopoly, Balderdash and Cards Against Humanity on repeat!
Everyday Gym More
A 7 year-long study by Kell and Rula found that participants who had higher frequency visits to a fitness centre considered themselves to have “better physical and mental component scores, self-rated health status and fewer physically and mentally unhealthy days.” The findings from this study highlight the huge lifelong benefits exercise can have on the body if done frequently.
A 2018 study by Chan et al., found that “moderate-intensity anaerobic exercise is associated with greater mood improvements. The relationship between exercise duration and mood change is non-linear; a regime of 10-to 30-minute exercise is sufficient for mood improvements.” So if you’re looking to boost your brain and your body, exercise is the way forward. And it’s probably quite refreshing to hear 10 minutes is enough to give you that boost.
Finding even 10 minutes a day to work out can be a challenge. Fear not, as all you need is a little imagination and that’s just about it. If you think about your daily routine and pull out a few of the things you do 7 days a week, they probably look a bit like this:
- Putting the kettle on for a coffee or a tea
- Drying hair
- Walking up the stairs
- Standing at the stove
- And so on and so forth.
Here comes the imaginative part. Often when we’re doing these seemingly mundane tasks, we waste ample opportunities to get brain and body fit.
Whilst you’re making a cup of tea or emptying the dishwasher, do some mini exercises to reap the benefits. We’ve got some ideas for you to jot down and take away with you to help you form super new habits. Ready?
Making a cuppa: Try doing 10 squats. They can be mini squats or the full ass-to-grass squat.
Emptying the dishwasher: walking to the cupboard with some plates? LUNGE. Honestly, try some deep or light lunges back and forth to the dishwasher.
Walking up the stairs: if you can, run up them. Or try walking up them in a half squat.
Stirring some soup at the stove: the perfect opportunity to punch your arms above your head and to the side. You could even pretend you’re Mike Tyson sparring in the ring. Just be careful of the hot soup…
Drying your hair: why not gently jog on the spot? It’s so boring otherwise.
In the bathroom: treat yourself to 10 star jumps.
Small bursts of energy like those listed above, can turn a sedentary and static day into a brain and body boosting extravaganza.
If it’s a healthy mind and body you’re after, these 3 tips can help you to reach your goals. Just remember the analogy of the twins; your brain and body come as a pair and for both to function optimally, they must work in unison to feel their full potential.
So when you hear another person say they’re going to be working on their fitness this year, ask them what they’ll be doing to improve their brain health too.
Brought to you by Peak, makers of the Peak – Brain Training app. Start brain training today:
All information featured in Peak – Brain Training articles are provided for informational purposes only and are not substitutes for medical or physician advice.