Practicing what you preach

By promoting brain awareness across Ontario, the OBI is helping people take charge of their own brain health. Need some inspiration? OBI staffers reveal their own brain health tips.  

There are many things you can do for your brain’s benefit. Managing stress, getting enough sleep,eating well, engaging in different mental exercises – all are great ways to improve your brain health.

As it turns out, so is regular physical activity, which is crucial to living longer and healthier. What’s more, not only is it great for your general physical well-being, but an abundance of evidence suggests that its benefits extend to the mind as well. For example, a recent Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) report suggests that regular physical activity can have a significant impact on delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. What’s more, regular physical activity can increase the quality of life of — and decrease depression in — those who’ve already been diagnosed.

In truth, exercise and other forms of physical activity might be the closest thing we have to a ‘wonder drug’: not only is it effective against a variety of disorders, it also functions as an excellent preventative measure. And, it is free.

That said, many of us fail to meet current Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines Canadian, which advocate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.

One major reason for this is time — or rather, lack of it. Our days are already overstuffed with functions that require little movement or are performed mainly while we’re sitting: driving to and from work; sitting at a desk; traveling in a plane. It’s no wonder we struggle to set aside any precious time for exercise.

The staff of the OBI face this same problem every day and we were curious what these ‘brainy’ folks do for their own brain health. So we posed this question: “How do you keep your brain fit?”

 

Stephanie Holbik, Manager, Finance & Governance

Every day, I make sure I take my brain out for a walk. I walk 15 minutes before work, at lunch, and after work. I also swim 3 times a week.

 

 

 

Lisa Leung, Intern

I mix it up, including mental and physical exercise.

There’s nothing greater than a sunny afternoon on my balcony with a good book or a rousing game of Scrabble. I like learning new strategies for game play, new words, and new ways of thinking. I am an avid reader and will pick up anything from political non-fiction to first-person fictional narrative.

I am a fan of the culinary arts. So I enjoy eating healthfully, making meals from scratch, and learning new recipes. Walking to farmer’s markets or Kensington market inspires me to cook with fresh local ingredients and make healthy choices.

I choose to live a pedestrian lifestyle, and I walk wherever and whenever I can. In addition to walking, I work out at least three times a week. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga yoga for three years and it’s a great way to improve my flexibility, stability, and break a sweat! Besides yoga, I also spin and do pilates.

Mixing up different activities keeps me motivated and lets me live an active lifestyle which is great for my brain.

 

Shiva Amiri, Manager, Informatics & Analytics

I do a variety of things for both my physical and brain health. I run three to four times a week for about half an hour, do yoga once a week, and perform back exercises (mostly yoga/pilates poses) every day for about 15 minutes. I also love dancing — I tango, salsa, and do latin or ballroom dancing at least once or twice a month.

 

I also hang out with smart people (for the most part!) and try to read interesting news, especially scientific articles. I also have a research-based company that keeps me involved with the latest computational drug discovery knowledge. Finally, when I get a chance, I try to relax by meditating.

 

 

Jordan Antflick, Outreach Lead

Aside from ‘sneaking it in’ with a quick workout at the nearby gym over lunch breaks, I strive to hit 10,000 steps a day even if this means that I need to get off the subway a stop earlier. I play beach volleyball weekly during the summer and ice hockey in the winter.

But just being physically active may not be enough so I regularly challenge my brain with puzzles such as crosswords and KenKen — sometimes referred to as ‘Sudoku on steroids’.

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