All aerobic exercise has positive effects on circulation and on health.
Modest exercise improves blood circulation to the brain in the older woman, 15% increase was found in one study.
Many studies indicate a connection between exercise and improvement in overall brain health.
Aerobic activities include swimming, cycling, brisk walking, dancing and sex, so find an activity that best suits your lifestyle and engage with enthusiasm.
Short walks are beneficial in increasing circulation to the brain.
If you sit at work, use a timer to prompt you to get up and move, to ensure you walk regularly throughout the day.
Take the stairs in preference to the lift.
Park away from the workplace to build in a brisk walk twice daily.
Get off the bus earlier than your stop, to insure you have a walk before and after work.
STRETCH OFTEN DAILY
Helps prevent joint stiffness, reduces muscle tightness and improves blood circulation throughout the body.
Stretch hourly if you are sedentary at work.
Gentle stretches which increase blood flow to the brain include standing, bending forwards to touch knees, shins or toes.
In sitting, back supported on the floor. Stretch out legs on floor, bend forwards, slowly unfolding your spine, to touch knees, shins or toes. Do not exceed your “comfortable” stretch position. Do not do anything which increases pain or discomfort in your back or legs.
Interlink your fingers, bring palms together, bring both arms up over your head, turn arms to push palms upwards towards ceiling. Stretch x 20 seconds, lower slowly and repeat x 2.
Both stretches can be performed every 2-3 hours throughout the day
Yoga incorporates breathing control and many poses encourage positioning of the head below heart.
Supported on back, lie on floor, rest legs up wall, bring buttocks to the wall.
Poses that stimulate blood flow to the brain include Plow Pose and Fish Pose.
USE BREATHING TO INCREASE BLOOD FLOW
BREATHE THROUGH THE NOSE
Breathing deeply through nose, sinus cavities, oral cavities and upper lungs, with the diaphragm in the abdominal area, brings air and oxygen to the lower lungs where oxygenation of the blood circulation is greatest.
Slowing of breathing and heartbeat occurs during meditation. Deep conscious breathing even-paced, increases oxygen saturation in the blood.
Meditation lowers stress levels, increases ability to focus and strengthens the immune system.
Sit comfortably, eyes closed, count deep belly breaths to 10, then start again. Focus attention on counting breaths when other thoughts enter, acknowledge and let them go. Resume counting breaths.
Nicotine decreases blood flow by restricting arteries.
Smoking is linked to strokes and brain aneurysm where weakness in blood vessel wall bulges and bursts, causing stroke.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine and are not recommended as a substitute, being still harmful to circulation to the brain.
CHANGE YOUR DIET
Chocolate has flavonoids, found in cocoa beans. Flavonoids are present in red wine, red grapes, apples and berries, also green or white tea.
Control calorie intake, monitor fat and sugar intake.
DRINK BEET JUICE
Beets contain nitrates where are converted into nitrites which increase blood vessel diameters, increasing blood flow to the brain.
Nitrates are found in celery, cabbage and other green, leafy vegetables.
Eat fruit and vegetables high in nitrites for optimal brain functioning.
EAT “SUPERFOODS” IN YOUR DIET
Superfoods are known for their high nutritional value. Nuts, seeds, blueberries and avocados.
Nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds and cashews are excellent sources of Vitamin E. Decline in cognitive function is linked to deficits in Vitamin E.
Avocado are high in monounsaturated fat, which is linked to increased blood flow in the brain. Monounsaturated fat reduces bad cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.
Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress. Eating one cup of blueberries daily has been shown to increase efficiency of brain functioning.
Consider Ginkgo Biloba supplements. It contains flavonoids and terpenoids. Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants which protect nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels and retina from damage. Terpenoids improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and reducing the stickiness (viscosity) of platelets.
Ginkgo is used to treat dementia, improve thinking, learning and memory (cognition). People have shown improvement in daily activity function, improved social behaviour and reduced feelings of depression.
It is known as the “brain herb”. Doses of 120 to 240 mg daily in divided doses containing 24-32% flavonoids and 6-12% terpenoids have been recommended in studies.
It can take 4-6 weeks for improvement to be evident. All herb supplements should only be taken with medical consultation as they can interact adversely with other medication, especially blood-thinning drugs. Always alert your doctor or dentist before surgery if you have taken a ginkgo supplement, due to increased risk of bleeding.