Improve Brain Health Now: Easy Steps

We can sum­ma­rize a lot of research by say­ing that there are four essen­tial pil­lars to main­tain­ing a healthy brain that func­tions bet­ter now and lasts longer. Those pil­lars are:

  • 1) Phys­i­cal Exercise
  • 2) Men­tal Exercise
  • 3) Good Nutrition
  • 4) Stress Management

Great … now what?! How do you devel­op a healthy lifestyle that includes all four pil­lars? Let’s look at each one.

  1. Phys­i­cal Exercise
    • Start by talk­ing to your doc­tor, espe­cial­ly if you are not cur­rent­ly phys­i­cal­ly active, have spe­cial health con­cerns, or are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes to your cur­rent program.
    • Set a goal that you can achieve. Do some­thing you enjoy for even just 15 min­utes a day. You can always add more time and activ­i­ties later.
    • Sched­ule exer­cise into your dai­ly rou­tine. It will be become a habit faster if you do.
    • If you can only do one thing, do some­thing car­dio­vas­cu­lar, mean­ing some­thing that gets your heart beat­ing faster. This includes walk­ing, run­ning, ski­ing, swim­ming, bik­ing, hik­ing, ten­nis, bas­ket­ball, play­ing tag, ulti­mate Fris­bee, and oth­er sim­i­lar sports/activities.
  2. Men­tal Exercise
    • Be curi­ous! Get to know your local library and com­mu­ni­ty col­lege, look for local orga­ni­za­tions or church­es that offer class­es or workshops
    • Do a vari­ety of things, includ­ing things you aren’t good at (if you like to sing, try paint­ing too)
    • Work puz­zles like cross­words and sudoku or play games like chess and bridge
    • Try a com­put­er­ized brain fit­ness pro­gram for a cus­tomized workout
    • If you can only do one thing, learn some­thing new every day
  3. Good Nutri­tion
    • Eat a vari­ety of foods of dif­fer­ent col­ors with­out a lot of added ingre­di­ents or processes
    • Plan your meals around your veg­eta­bles, and then add fruit, pro­tein, dairy, and/or grains
    • Add some cold-water fish to your diet (tuna, salmon, mack­er­el, hal­ibut, sar­dines, and her­ring) which con­tain omega‑3 fat­ty acids
    • Learn what a por­tion-size is, so you don’t overeat
    • Try to eat more foods low on the Glycemic Index
    • If you can only do one thing, eat more veg­eta­bles, par­tic­u­lar­ly leafy green ones
  4. Stress Man­age­ment
    • Get reg­u­lar car­dio­vas­cu­lar exercise
    • Try to get enough sleep each night
    • Keep con­nect­ed with your friends and family
    • Prac­tice med­i­ta­tion, yoga, or some oth­er calm­ing activ­i­ty as way to take a relax­ing time-out (maybe a bath)
    • Try train­ing with a heart rate vari­abil­i­ty biofeed­back sensor
    • If you can only do one thing, set aside 5–10 min­utes to just breathe deeply and recharge!



  1. Lexi Sundell on April 15, 2007 at 10:16

    This arti­cle is now includ­ed in the Car­ni­val of Cre­ative Growth #1 at‑1/.
    Come see the oth­er excel­lent and diverse articles!
    Thank you for sub­mit­ting this article.

  2. Peggy on May 2, 2007 at 9:14

    I’m an old woman but have prac­ticed your ‘pil­lars’ for many decades. In addi­tion I take vit­a­mins and sup­ple­ments that I’ve learned by expe­ri­ence keeps me at my best. I take no med­ica­tions and have had no ill­nessess, even colds, for many years.

    I com­bine my dai­ly exer­cise rou­tine at home with breath­ing exer­cis­es, and it’s real­ly mar­velous. The entire process, which I repeat twice dai­ly, is almost like a zen expe­ri­ence, leav­ing me not fatigued but refreshed, phys­i­cal­ly, men­tal­ly and emotionally.

  3. Caroline on May 2, 2007 at 9:42


    Con­grat­u­la­tions on tak­ing such good care of your­self! Keep it up — you’re a role mod­el for the rest of us!

  4. BuÄŸra on August 20, 2007 at 2:56

    Nice tips, thanks. It’s a good idea to take fish oil pills i guess.

  5. Alvaro on August 20, 2007 at 4:45

    Glad to be of help!

  6. uthara mohan on September 14, 2007 at 2:44

    am an adult who is a lit­tle over weight.And am very hap­py that i saw this site…i do my exer­cis­es twice n a day..and i wld like to know what kind of diet i need 2 have..i rel­ly do need ur help..plz do give me the need­ed advice

  7. Alvaro on September 14, 2007 at 6:22

    Uthara: make sure to come back to the site next week, when we will pub­lish a great inter­view with Dr. Judith Beck that will help solve your ques­tion. The key is not so much the spe­cif­ic diet as improv­ing our moti­va­tion and dis­ci­pline to stick to a good nutri­tion over the long term.

  8. Nick on March 6, 2009 at 3:13

    Nutri­tion is huge, but don’t for­get about rest! If you don’t eat prop­er­ly, you could prob­a­bly make your­self feel 110% bet­ter if you start­ed eat­ing a bal­anced diet.

  9. Burt Silver on April 13, 2018 at 1:57

    These are great tips, espe­cial­ly the one about hav­ing good nutri­tion. I’ve noticed that it’s real­ly helped my head stay clear and focused when I eat health­i­er. I also think the stress man­age­ment is def­i­nite­ly impor­tant. Get­ting enough sleep and every­thing so that you can stay focused on your goals the next day with­out being drowsy.

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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