Please click here to view our entire online March e-newsletter, Brain Health.
by Luis Aguilar
When I was a young lad, I did not believe my elders when they explained to me how they were noticing that “they are losing their minds”, or “there is not enough time in the day to do more”. Now, I believe them!
I am also in search for mental sharpness
As I am now maturing, I have noticed the same decrease in cognitive function; I forget names, I can’t memorize my debit card numbers, 9×7= 63, 72? One thing is for sure: That I, like many individuals, am looking for ways to regain mental sharpness, increase memory, and have the mental stamina to work efficiently throughout the day.
I would like to share my tricks from my research and experience in the endless journey of improvement:
1. Steady state cardio for 45 minutes or more improves focus proportionately
Mental endurance increases the longer your cardio session is because, according to researchers, exercise “induces long-term action potential in the hippocampus”. However, focus does not increase proportionately with weight training or interval training, but endurance does. Interval routines are appropriate when trying to achieve a sculptured body and what-not. But if the goal is to improve cognitive function, the rest follows. What is steady state? Steady state is a level of cardio where the amount of work equals the amount of oxygen. For some people this is between 105-155 beats per minute, or 45-65% of heart rate max. (It is strongly recommended to contact a health professional for your correct calculation). Anything above this range cannot be held for long periods of time. Some fitness trainers believe that running for longer than 45 minutes increases cortisol levels, breaks down proteins and increases the wear and tear of joints. This may be true, however, the trick to combating all of these effects is to consume sugar after 30 minutes to decrease cortisol and prevent muscle breakdown, or to work your way up.
2. Bata Binaural beat for focus
Beta binaural beats are two-toned beats designed to stimulate brain waves in order to increase focus, meditate, or increase energy. The beats are easily found on the internet and youtube. For some people, the frequency of pitch or level of volume of these beats can be a nuisance so a good way to listen to these beats would be with low volume, through speakers, through ear-bud head phones, or search for ones that are comfortable. While the possibility of you becoming a genius over one song is possible, increasing mental sharpness is a process, so more than one or two “listens” will be required.
I have to admit that neurofeedback sounded too good to be true, but after several sessions under my scalp, I noticed that I could tolerate stress much better, I could focus for longer periods of time in quiet places or in noisy places, and I could stay calm during stressful situations. My emotional health strengthened and I was better prepared to make choices. Life wasn’t as horrible as my over-active brain made it to be. Since my first neurofeedback session, I can devour 150 pages of a book in a sitting and have things stick from page one. One of my clients made more than $1000 in half an hour, he believes because of his increased ability to recall information during business meetings. Other clients report more confidence in their daily life because symptoms of their neurological illness have improved, and at least one wife of a client reports that her husband suddenly has the urge to wash dishes and clean the kitchen. Why? Because the brain and central nervous system have undergone good change that allows the brain to function efficiently by releasing itself from “stuckness” behaviours that use abundant, inefficient, amounts of energy.
There are choices in in the tricks
Unfortunately, some of my tricks require work to be done in order to achieve the benefits, such as running, cycling, or walking. Fortunately, some tricks don’t require work, but they require an investment. The great part is that there are choices.