(BlackDoctor.org) — Brain health is all the rage these days, and for good reason. The evolving research demonstrates quite clearly that our brains are more elastic than previously thought, and we can continue to build new neural connections and pathways throughout our lifetime.
Based on the newer science and research, brain fitness has indeed become an important aspect of health, and there are now myriad ways to take advantage of the plethora of information now available to consumers when it comes to caring for and nurturing this most crucial of organs.
Exercising the brain and keeping it in shape is now seen as important as exercising the muscles of the body. There are many ways to put your brain through its paces, and most of us probably are already engaged in activities that promote brain health without being conscious of that fact.
The brain is an organ that grows through its interaction with the environment either through its powers of perception or through actions undertaken by the body. Novel stimuli and experiences cause the brain to forge new neural pathways, and it is the underlying mind-body connection that powers the growth and elasticity of brain tissue.
Trillions of connections in your brain can fire hundreds or thousands of times each second, and these nerve fibers and networks within your three-pound brain are the essential stuff behind most every action and process occurring within your body. Neurotransmitters and other important chemicals are the messengers within your neural networks. The brain is fed its energy by glucose from your dietary intake and oxygen taken in through the lungs.
While most of your brain’s basic architecture is fully formed by the time you are four or five years old, brain development doesn’t stop in childhood. In fact, full brain maturity is said by some scientists to occur somewhere between the ages of 20 and 25. Therefore, many brain specialists have grave concerns about the heavy use of alcohol and illegal drugs during adolescence, a crucial time of cerebral development.
Although your brain is most elastic and ready for new information during adolescence, it is still possible to learn a new instrument, language or other skill later in life. In fact, the forging of new neural connections and brain elasticity depend upon the engagement of your brain in activities that stimulate growth and development at any age.
Research shows that moderate physical exercise can improve cognitive function and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Walking brings increased oxygen and glucose to the cerebral cortex. Walking is only moderately strenuous, therefore your legs do not demand the increased blood flow that more vigorous exercise requires, thus more blood and nutrients flow to your brain while walking than during other forms of exercise. Still, even vigorous activity benefits the brain by increasing blood flow and lung capacity, so don’t be afraid to go for it if you’re in good enough condition for vigorous exercise!