This is going to be a post on some notes I’ve taken from the book “60 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp” by Bonne Beth Sparrman, BSN. The book is divided into 4 sections of: physical activity and related preventative measures, nutrition, intellectual stimulation, and social and spiritual stimulation. This bog post will only be covering select parts from the first section of “Physical Activity and Related Preventative Measures”. In this post I’ll be emphasizing my favorite sections and tips and make short little notes on the remaining bits:
- Go Hiking. I love this one, because I too love hiking, I’ve only done it a couple of times, but I’ve loved going every single time. In Sparrman’s book she starts of writing about a Swedish man named Stig (pronounced Steeg and means “pathway or wanderer”). I loved Sparrman’s description of Stig’s childhood surroundings of “Rolling hills, plenty of water, and pine forests surrounded his home, beckoning him to wander wooded paths foraging for mushrooms and wild berries” (p. 16). Clearly hiking has physical benefits, but it does so much for mental health as well including boosting creativity and reducing depression.
- Go Swimming (or even better swim in a lake). According to Sparrman the benefits of swimming include: increased blood flow to the brain, decreases depression, improves memory, and is a physical activity that is safe for joints (p. 21-22).
- Garden. I’m an on-off gardener, at times I’m out toiling around in the dirt, while at other times I just spend the greater sum of my hours indoors. In spite of my fickleness regarding this activity, I really do enjoy it when I do it. As for what Sparrman writes about gardening, she says that working with the soil gives a boost of serotonin to our brains that improves mood (apparently through the aid of a good microbe called Mycobacterium vaccae). People who garden also have a lower risk of developing dementia than those who don’t and being out in the sunshine increases the production of vitamin D, which is yet another mood booster and even helps to improve our immune systems (p. 33-34).
- Try Pilates. Apparently pilates works not only the body, but the mind as well and has an emphasis on deep breathing. Some of its benefits including healing sore muscles, helps prevent injuries (how I’m not sure), decreases stress, and calms the mind. I’ve never personally tried pilates, but I may try it now and after reading this section of the book I went on Youtube and checked to see if I could find any video that I might want to try and came across this one that I might try to give a go at some time soon (p. 36-37).
- Get a Massage. According to Sparrman massage decreases cortisol (our stress homone) while increasing the “feel good” hormones of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. I’ve only gone one time to a massage parlor and wasn’t too thrilled with my experience there. The lady that massaged me was too rough and didn’t understand English so I couldn’t make any of my preferences known to her. It was a rather uncomfortable experience for me. So far my good massage experiences have only been from family and friends, but perhaps I’ll try a “real” massage again sometime soon and will hopefully have a different experience (p. 55).
- Additional Tips: maintain a healthy BMI, stay active, partner dancing, get enough sleep, quit smoking if you’re a smoker, breath more deeply, and always wear a helmet for activities that call for one to be worn.
Sparrman, B. B. (2018). 60 ways to keep your brain sharp. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.