Three essentials for a healthy brain

Photo credit - Everton Vila via

Photo credit – Everton Vila via

We all know the things that make for good physical health, but do we know what is required for our brain’s well-being? Actually, the components aren’t all that different.

Three brain essentials
Dr Sarah McKay, a neuroscientist, suggests that the essentials to a healthy brain are

  • mental
  • physical, and
  • social activity.

Each of these activities provides stimulation to the brain.

Mental activity  
Research shows that adults who regularly challenge their minds and stay mentally active throughout life have healthier brains and are less likely to develop dementia. This could be ongoing learning through further education/courses, doing challenging work and learning new skills. It could just be challenging yourself to try new things, regularly.

Physical activity
Exercise increases the the blood flow throughout your body including to your brain. It also triggers the release of chemicals in your body that:

  • promote neuronal growth and survival
  • reduce inflammation
  • support the formation of long-term memories

We also know that exercise reduces the risk of dementia, acts as an anti-depressant and is a mood regulator. The exercise does not have to be a heavy duty workout. Going for a walk, doing gardening or playing an outdoor game can all have the same effect.

Social activity
People are social beings. We all need to connect with others and to share the warmth that accompanies satisfying relationships. Connections with friends, family and other social groups are important. They help you live longer, be happier and feel healthier. Interestingly, loneliness and social isolation have been found to have similar impacts on health and survival as smoking does.

What sort of shape is your brain in?
Are you meeting your brain’s three essentials? If not, there is no time like the present to start. The smart way to do this would be to engage in some activity that ticked each box. Find something that challenges you mentally, involves physical activity that you can do with others. They need to be practical to your situation so that with regular engagement health brain habits can be formed.

Here are three suggestions.

  1. Learn a new sport
  2. Take up dance classes
  3. Do some volunteering in your neighbourhood/community

Do you have other suggestions? Would you share them here?

Reference: Dr Sarah McKay –

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