How To Have a Healthy Fit Mind That Takes Care Of A Healthy Fit Body.

By Ange Fonce

Good health includes both physical and mental well-being. 

And the two go hand in hand. 

A healthy mind contributes to a healthy body. 

The mind, like the body, benefits from low blood pressure, low cholesterol, nourishing food, a healthy weight, and physical activity.

There are many healthy lifestyle choices you can make to keep your body healthy and avoid illness and disability. 

There are additional steps you can take to help preserve healthy minds.

What can I do to keep my mind healthy?

For the last several years, new research has emerged that shows there are many things you can do to keep your minds healthy. 

Many of the same things you do to keep our bodies healthy contribute to healthy minds. 

Physical activity and a diet that helps lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure also helps to keep your mind healthy by allowing your body to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your brain. 

In addition, activities that stimulate your mind, like crossword puzzles, reading, writing, and learning new things, help to keep your brain healthy. 

Staying engaged with the people around you and your communities plays an equally big part in staying mentally fit.

Following are some specific recommendations to keep a healthy mind and ward off mental health problems.

Be Physically Active. 

The benefits are numerous. 

Being physically active helps prevent bone density loss, maintain balance, and ward off illnesses (like heart disease, stroke, and some cancers). 

For some, illness and disability can bring on or contribute to mental illness. 

For example, those who live with diabetes, cancer, and heart disease can also suffer from depression.

Regular physical activity helps to...

  • Maintain and improve memory
  • Maintain and improve mental ability
  • Prevent dementia (impaired intellectual functioning) including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Make us happy and prevent and alleviate depression
  • Improve energy levels
How does exercise do all that? 

Physical activity-whether it’s walking, running, swimming, dancing (you have a lot of choices)-helps to...

  • Decrease heart rate
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Decrease blood cholesterol
  • Strengthen the heart and increase the flow of oxygen to the brain
  • Improve reaction time
  • Improve mobility
If you are thinking about starting an exercise program, talk first with your doctor. 

Start slowly, take proper precautions (for example, walk in well-lit areas in sturdy shoes), and have fun. 

Remember, you do not have to be athletic to benefit from regular physical activity.

Keep your cholesterol levels low. 

High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease as well as dementia. 

The higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your chance of disease and illness. 

An excess of cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood can build up on the walls of your arteries. 

This causes them to harden and narrow, which slows down and can block blood flow. 

A blood cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is considered healthy, 200-239 mg/dL is borderline high, and 240 mg/dL and above is high. 

Heredity, age, and gender can affect cholesterol levels. 

Cholesterol rises with age and women’s levels tend to rise beginning after menopause. 

Healthy changes to diet, weight, and physical activity can help improve blood cholesterol levels.

Eat your vegetables… and more. 

You have heard it all your lives, the good advice to eat your vegetables. 

The same diet that can help you stay strong and healthy provides the nutrition necessary for a healthy brain. 

It starts with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat dairy products. 

Experiment and find out how you best like to eat the good things that your entire body needs. 

There is an endless variety to suit every taste.

Some specific dietary recommendations for a healthy brain...

Folate is a B vitamin found in foods such as spinach and asparagus. 

Folic acid is the synthetic form used in supplements and fortified foods. 

Folate is necessary for the health of your cells, and helps to prevent anemia and changes to DNA (the building blocks of cells) that could lead to cancer. 

Folate is also necessary to maintain normal levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood. 

Good sources of folate and folic acid include dark-green leafy vegetables, asparagus, strawberries, beans, and beef liver.

The vitamins E and C are important antioxidants found in foods that help guard against cell damage and may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. 

While there is no conclusive evidence, scientific research is showing that vitamins E and C may help boost mental ability and prevent dementia.

For adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day from foods. 

Foods naturally rich in vitamin E include nuts, such as almonds, olive oils, seeds, oat germ, spinach, and other dark-green leafy vegetables.

The RDA of vitamin C for adults is 75 milligrams per day for women and 90 milligrams per day for men. 

Vitamin C is found in oranges, grapefruits, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, bell peppers, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, potatoes, spinach, and turnip greens.

Drink moderately... 

If you do not drink, do not start. 

If you do drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day,

One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, or 5 ounces of wine.

Give up smoking... 

If you are a smoker, do not wait until you are debilitated by a serious disease before considering quitting. 

Smoking significantly increases one’s chance of having a stroke and developing lung and other cancers, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart attacks, and peripheral vascular disease.

Maintain a healthy weight... 

People who are obese or overweight are at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis-related disabilities, and some cancers. 

The health risks of being overweight include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. 

Being underweight also carries risks including poor memory and decreased immunity. 

Ask your health care provider how much you should weigh and for suggestions on reaching that weight. 

Whatever your weight, a healthy diet and regular exercise will only improve your overall health.

Reduce stress... 

Just as stress can wear your body down and increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, it can also affect the way you think, your moods, and ability to remember. 

In fact, the hormones your bodies release when you are under stress may shrink the brain, affecting memory and learning. 

Stress can also cause or contribute to depression and anxiety.

To deal with stress, first identify its causes and determine what changes you can make to avoid it. 

For example, if rush-hour traffic is causing you stress, time your driving or change your route to avoid heavy traffic. 

If party planning and gift buying during the holidays overwhelm you, simplify and concentrate on those aspects you really look forward to, like getting together with friends and family.

Sometimes talking through your stress with a friend, coach or therapist, or even writing in a journal, helps to put things in perspective.

Relax. Whether it’s by taking walks, playing golf, hitting a tennis ball, or meditating, find ways to release your stress and take a break.

Get Moving...

Physical activity on most days of the week helps your body keep mental stress in check.

Give yourself a break. 

If you must live with a stressful situation, take mini-vacations. 

Whether it is 20 minutes or several days, take time to relax and enjoy the things and people you find pleasurable.

Keep Mentally Fit... 

Just as we exercise our bodies to keep them in working order, so must we exercise our brains to stay mentally agile and adept. 

It’s the use-it-or-lose-it theory. 

By engaging in mentally stimulating activities, you can maintain your brain functions. 

Mental fitness is just as important as physical health and should not be neglected. 

Incorporating mental dexterity exercises into your life can help you reap the benefits of a sharper mind and a healthier body for years to come.

Mental fitness is exactly what it sounds like.

Keeping your brain and emotional health in tip-top shape. 

It does not mean training for “Brain Olympics” or acing an IQ test. 

Rather, it refers to a series of exercises that help you slow down, decompress, and boost a flagging memory.

Mind-Body Connection...

It is no surprise that the more you help your body, the more you help your mind. 

Physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to your brain and increases the amount of endorphins, (feel-good chemicals) in the brain. 

For this reason, it is not surprising that people who are in good physical shape also tend to enjoy a higher level of mental agility.

Engaging in a vigorous workout can help you battle depression and gain a more positive outlook on life and yourself. 

It is also a great way to beat stress, which can harm you mentally and physically.

While exercise is good for the brain and the body, so is meditation. 

Meditation, in conjunction with other methods, is an alternative way to treat depression. 

Calming the mind allows you to calmly think through your problems.

Benefits Of Mental Fitness...

When you finally get to bed after a long day on the go, your body begins to relax, but the mind does not always follow.

Achieve a sense of calm through imagery, the process of picturing a calming scene or location. 

This reduces tension in both your body and your mind by challenging neurons in the less-dominant area of your brain.

The less-dominant side of your brain is the area that controls feelings of self-confidence and optimism. 

Increasing activity in your brain’s neural structures by forcing yourself to think about something other than your daily worries through visualization, for example, boosts emotional well-being in addition to calming you down mentally.

Become Mentally Fit...

Keeping your mind mentally fit is not as difficult as getting ready for a marathon, but it is the best way to view it. 

You can simply add it to the many activities you already perform, such as reading, daydreaming, or finding humor in life.

Stop Multitasking...

You may think that multitasking enables you to get many things done at once, but it actually creates more problems than it solves. 

Focusing on one task at a time will not only improve your concentration, and it will help you to see the bigger picture, and get you pointed toward in a productive direction.

Be Positive With Yourself...

Positive affirmation is one avenue to increased mental proficiency.

Affirmation-or the way you talk to yourself-involves strengthening neural pathways to bring your self-confidence, well being, and satisfaction to a higher level.

To start, make a list of your good qualities and remind yourself that you do not have to be perfect. 

Set goals for what you want to improve, and start small to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Try Something Different...

New experiences can also set you on the path to mental fitness.

Trying new foods, different ways of accomplishing routine tasks, and traveling to new places improves your memory and expands your horizons. 

Even taking a new way to work improves your brain.

According to the Franklin Institute, mental dexterity exercises help you see the world in a new way and strengthen your neural pathways. 

In essence, breaking out of your routine can help keep your brain young and healthy.

Play Games...

Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other games that test reasoning and other portions of your brain are fun ways to keep your mind sharp. 

Any kind of game that employs the use of logic, reasoning, or trivia are great ways to build up your brain muscle.

Read More...

Reading is great for your brain. 

Even as you are reading this sentence, your brain is processing each word, recalling the meaning instantly.

Beyond the mechanics, reading helps you visualize the subject you’re reading about, imagine what voices sound like in dialogue, and more. If you don’t think this works, find a picture of Morgan Freeman on the internet with a quote next to it and hear his voice in your head. It’s also a great relaxation technique as well.

Reading is a great activity because it can stoke the imagination and ignite so many different parts of the brain. 

There are also endless genres and types of reading material that you will never run out of interesting things to read.

Take The Time...

Mental fitness does not have to take up a lot of your time. 

Just spending a few minutes every day visualizing, affirming, or relaxing can help you feel better and think more clearly. 

Schedule a mental fitness break into your calendar right next to your workout schedule. 

Your mind and your health are worth it.

Take care of your Mental Health and Physical Fitness. 

You have the DYNAMIC power!

Ange Fonce

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