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Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Ah, spring. Even if your doorstep is still under a foot of snow, more pleasant weather is on the way and there’s no better time to spring into shape and adopt a new, active lifestyle.

It doesn’t really matter where you live, what your age is, or whether you’re single and uncommitted or married with kids, most – if not all – of these tips are achievable for everyone. Just think how much better you could feel by the time summer rolls around if you’ve found the courage to jump into completely different pursuits that will lead to a healthier, happier life.

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1. Find Fitness That’s Fun

Bored with your current exercise routine? Can’t find enough time, or perhaps motivation, to get in shape? Don’t work out at all? The solution could be trying something completely different, from boxercise or military-style fitness classes to hot yoga, aqua-fitness or even ping pong. Is there a new fitness activity you could try with your partner or children, such as learning to sail as a family? Or perhaps finding a running club or getting a friend to join you in training for a long-distance biking event? The more people you rope in, the better your chances of sticking with an exercise regime you actually enjoy.

2. Try A New Hobby

Sure, you could take up tennis, return to a childhood love of dance or join a team sport, but hobbies don’t have to involve physical fitness to benefit your health. The mental stimulation of taking a writing class, learning a new skill such as needlework or even just doing a daily crossword puzzle could improve your cognitive agility and generally boost your mood. The social benefits of interacting with new people also shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you do this through a workshop or volunteering with a local charity.

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3. Get A Pet

The positive effects of having a pet are well documented. If you get a dog in particular, you’ll be forced to get out and exercise even if you otherwise would find an excuse not to. Plus, pets can encourage owners in other unexpected ways: once you are responsible for feeding another creature, you realize how important a healthy diet is – for people and for pets. Caring for someone else can hold up a mirror on your behavior: pets and people should have preventative health checks and treatments, if necessary. If nothing else, dogs make an excellent, non-judgmental companion when you just need some company.

4. Walk!

Dog or no, going for a walk is the perfect tonic for anything that ails you. A walk can clear your head, focus your thoughts, aid creativity and wake you up, all while burning calories as a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Walking is environmentally friendly, too, and puts you in touch with nature and the changes in the seasons, even if you never leave pavement. You might be surprised how far you can stroll once you get the hang of it. Soon you’ll be looking for new walking routes everywhere you go, and you might even encourage a friend (either the two- or four-legged variety).

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5. Get Growing

Spring is all about new starts and new life, so why not get in the vibe by planting something? Flowers or herbs in a windowsill or window box, or something more ambitious, such as a fruit tree, a pot of tomatoes or even a whole vegetable patch. Don’t worry if you’re a novice: there are countless websites to help everyone from green-fingered experts to the first-time gardener. Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t need to make a huge investment – seeds and small plants are cheap, as is soil (if you even need to buy it) and many household items can be used as starter pots (such as egg boxes) and other supplies (freezer bags for covering seedlings on a window sill, for instance). Best case scenario, you have a wholesome new hobby that feeds you, too.

6. Investigate Your Food

Have you ever visited a farmers’ market or shop, garden center, orchard or pick-your-own fruit farm? Nothing tastes better than produce fresh from the tree or field, especially if you can find out more about how it’s been grown and if it has any particular health benefits. The grower might not always know these things, but it’s still good to talk to the folks who produce what we eat, not least because it enhances our understanding of where and how our food is made. You might also try something new or pick up recipe ideas that will help you stick to a well-balanced diet.

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7. Appreciate What’s Around You

Is there a nearby park you’re vaguely aware of but have never actually set foot in? A wildlife reserve where you or your children can go along to learn about migrating birds, bats’ feeding patterns, the importance of bees or the life cycle of amphibians? Or just a lovely lake, woods or field that’s open to the public? Spring is possibly the best time to get outdoors and explore, or rekindle a love of nature. Do a little investigating to find out what green spaces could help you rejuvenate after a long, tiresome winter.

Featured photo credit: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr Creative Commons

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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