brain lifting weights

Did you know that every experience we have changes our brains in some way?

Even simple acts like reading or walking in nature physically changes the neurological connections of our amazing brains.  In fact, this is the premise of new theories that support the notion that stimulating your brain with new and interesting experiences will make for a healthier and happier brain! Who’da thunk it? 🙂 

Our Brains On Autopilot

Everyday life can sometimes leave us stuck in a rut – at least as far as our brain health is concerned.  Routines associated with work, kids, chores, bills, etc. can condition our brains to run on autopilot and coast through life instead of engaging in it.  In autopilot mode, our brains track along the same old neural pathways over and over like a hamster on a wheel. BORING!

In order to increase brain health, our goal should be to build new neural connections and that involves getting out of the neurological ruts we find ourselves in.

Interestingly, scientists now know that our brains are hard-wired to respond to novel activities.  We are simply and marvelously built to thrive in a learning environment filled with stimulating things to do.  If you can open yourself to new ideas, concepts, and activities then you might just give your brain the makeover it needs to carry you into old age.

Keeping Your Brain in Shape

The physiological changes that happen to the human brain when it is exposed to new information are fascinating.  The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that continuously monitors the environment.  The hippocampus is the area responsible for memories.  When presented with new and challenging stimuli, these two areas of the brain begin to come alive. (I sound like I know what I’m talking about right? Thanks goes to medical shows I watch! LOL)

Why is this important? 

Because the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus are the two areas of the brain that are the most vulnerable to damage caused by normal aging. 

“The brain is like a muscle, we need to exercise it,” – Arne May (assistant professor of neurology at the University of Regensburg in Germany)

juggling to increase brain funtionJust like body muscles, you must keep these areas of the brain strong and in good shape if you expect them to be able to perform later in life.

An interesting study conducted by the International University in Bremen, Germany illustrates just how resilient the human brain is.  Researchers brought in healthy children and elderly people between the ages of six and eighty-nine and taught them how to juggle.  After seven days of juggling school, the researchers measured the gray matter in the subjects’ brains.  All of the subjects had a substantial increase in the volume of gray matter in the area of visual tracking.  This study illustrates how your brain can be shaped and reshaped by our activities and experiences.

That’s right folks, juggling is not just a performance act anymore!

Giving Your Brain Something Else to Do

The human brain has evolved into a computer-like learning machine that is not really made to relax and take it easy.  New experiences and stimulation make us feel alive and vibrant.  Seeing new places, learning about new topics, and doing new things work to build fresh neural pathways that not only sharpen our intelligence, but build our self-confidence as well.  Here are some small changes that can transform your brain in a big way:

  • Listen to a new radio station. 
  • Study a new language or watch television in a different language.
  • Spend part of your lunch hour walking in nature.
  • Doodle or draw with your non-dominant hand.
  • Drive a different route to and from work or other routine locations .
These are just a few. In addition, check out 4 Mind 4 Life’s 50 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power including having sex, thinking positive, visualizing, crossword puzzles, listening to classical music and laughing – all some of my favorites anyway 😉 Head over and check out the rest of the list!

Over to you…

Simple activities like the ones above can change the dynamics of how you think.  New and different experiences are like vitamins for your brain leaving it healthier and more active and less vulnerable to cognitive decline.

We can only hope that these brain boosters can help with disease prevention and management!

How do you boost your brain? 

Image Sources: Living Well Today (weight lifting brain) and Click Some More (juggler)

Wassuper, it’s yo girl, Kesha and I believe we should Be the Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios because life is more interesting when you dare to be different and challenge what’s “normal!” I am wildly passionate about helping highly driven women pursue fantabulous relationships, juicytastic careers/bizzes, and authentically inspired lives. Let’s work together to rethink, redo, and reinvent so you can live life YOUR way!
Brain Boosters: The Importance of New Experiences
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  • Sudoku! I do it everyday and that is how I am making sure my brain is still active when I am over a 100!

    Also, I make sure I read something everyday – besides the daily newspaper of course! And make note of a new word I learnt and find out its meaning and all!

    • Oooh I remembe my Sudoku phase Hajra! It’s so fun AND very good to challenge the brain. I should get back to that. Boggle and Scramble with Friends have taken over though lately. LOL

      FYI – I have a book that have you learn 5 new words a day – words you don’t normally use daily – and it’s pretty good for helping exercise the brain and memory, which I def need!

  • Terri

    This is so very important. Particularly for older people after they retire. I’m in the travel industry and I preach this all the time. We all need new experiences.

    • That’s one of the reasons I love to travel Terri! Not only do I get to experience new cultures, people, things, places, language, etc. but it does stimulate the brain because when I’m someplace new, I’m more alert. We’re “not in Kansas anymore” when we’re out of our routine element so it helps to keep new experiences going! 🙂

  • Read blogs, watch a little of TV (sometimes), laugh, have conversations with people and walk each night is about all the extra activity my poor brain gets. BUT, I think very positive thoughts each day and have a grateful attitude so I sure as heck hope that helps. 🙂

    Interesting post Kesha, I learns some new terms. Dang you’re smart.. 🙂

    • You know, Adrienne, though we can bash TV all day, there is a lot to learn (mostly of what NOT to do as I tell my niece and nephew) LOL.

      I for one certainly get all types of new blog ideas from watching TV, though I still limit my time with it to mostly just my recorded shows. I also learn a lot when I read books (both fiction and nonfiction), which I need to get back to doing more often too.

      I remember as a child hearing my mom say “beaucoup” a lot and I thought it was spelled “boo coo” (some dictionaries do list that spelling as an alternative) but when I ran across that word in a book, I looked it up and found out THAT’S what my mom was saying all this time! Oh and yes I was one of those kids who would read with a dictionary next to me…best way to learn new words! 🙂

      P.S. I’m only smart because of the awesome, smart shows I watch that use these terms 😉

  • Dr. Linette Montae

    I do something creative. Anything artistic works great for taking my brain and peace level to a different place. I sure wish my answer was exercising! 🙂

    • Ha! That’s why I had to have a tracker Linette. If I keep seeing no check marks next to Exercise, it’ll drive me crazy! LOL I have to get in something, even if it’s just a walk around the block! 🙂

  • Hi Kesha,

    Love that brain lesson!

    I remember years ago I read an article which has a photograph illustration of what just learning one other language does to the brain. I remember I was impressed. Since then I learned two, so I can only imaging my brain now 🙂

    I’m glad that I’ve done so many things in my life which (even though I didn’t know it) must have been good for my brain.

    I love to go on YouTube and listen to my own language, French, since all day I hear, read, and write English. A lot of times I feel that it’s so refreshing 🙂

    Thanks for this post 🙂

    • Ooooh Sylviane, that’s a good idea (listening to your language on youtube)! This gives me an idea about (re)learning Spanish…Who needs Rosetta Stone when we have youtube!! LOL

  • Hi Kesha!
    i like your blog.because activity of our body depend on our brain.and i think to boost your brain do such a thing in which you are interested,watch tv,playing and listening your interesting music.
    and i like to read book,watching tv and listening classical music when i become bore or my mind upset.

  • BigTickles

    I like listening to classical music in my down time; hopefully it is stimulating my brain. I also play words with friends but I am thinking about adding a crossword game as well. My little cub men are of age to start learning languages so that is going to be a fun journey 😉

    • What language will you guys delve into first? That does sound fun! I need to ramp my Spanish skills back up!

      Oh and yes, I’m sure listening to classical music is stimulating some of those brain cells. It’s one of those subliminal things!

      Lately, I’ve been playing memory on my phone and Scramble with Friends (one of my fav games at the moment). 🙂

  • I get outside and experience nature. We stay so stuck indoors that being outside stimulates my brain like crazy. Another way is reading books. I don’t read as many as I would like to, but it gives me an edge when it comes to my day job and how I can use what I have learned to my benefit. Great post Lakesha!

  • Carol Minarcik

    Hello Lakesha, First off you have a really nice blog. This article is one that I truly live by
    daily. The older I get the more things I forget, but if I keep trying and take the time to learn new things, (Like blogging) and wordpress, it really does make a big difference. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Hi Lakesha

    I feel like my brain is in overload much of the time. I was a technophobe when I ventured online 2 1/2 years ago so it has been a steep learning curve for me.
    Prior to that I had changed careers several times.

    I agree it is so important to keep our brains active. My mother is in her 80s and she does Sudoku every day. She also is a keen reader. She is still very with it mentally.

    Great discussion you have going here.

    Sue

  • Love your photo, by the way 🙂 And love this topic. It’s true, your brain needs to be exercised. I notice even when I do a lot of “the same thing” not only is it boring but I get very un-creative Sometimes all it takes is a little change-up to get those cells firing again. For me, exercise is a big thing, too. I don’t love it, that’s for sure! But I know when I get out of bed and hop on the treadmill for a couple of miles, I’m a completely different person for the rest of the day. Thanks for a great (and important) reminder!

  • I just realized this is why I don’t go to the gym! He He……
    I am always using that brain muscle. Reading blogs, learning something new each day, reading books, even doing brain games on the computer. I just love it. Also teaching what I know so things stick into my brain.
    I just can’t do the same thing every day, I get all frustrated. My days have to be challenged. Just the way I am I guess.
    I will be doing this to the day I die. I cannot even understand why people “retire”….if there is such a thing these days.
    I need a positive challenge in my life. I love to live life with a child-like attitude of questioning.
    Thanks for this article Kesha! It is so important to be aware of this subject.

    Donna