Did you know that an increase in blood flow to your brain can help protect your memory and thinking skills? This makes sense if you remember that our brain receives roughly 15% of our cardiac blood output and uses three times as much oxygen as our muscles do. Oxygen is vital to brain function and increasing the oxygen flow to your brain may sharpen your focus and boost your cognitive abilities.
One way to get blood flowing to your brain is to get regular aerobic exercise. Whether you’re taking a dance class, working out to a video online, or even if it’s just running up and down your stairs, it’s all great! The key is to get your heart pumping and yourself breathing harder for thirty minutes to an hour three to four times a week. I know that sounds like a lot, but seriously, even once a week is better than nothing.
Yet if you’re not ready for this commitment, you could try taking frequent short walks throughout the day. Studies have shown that even a walk of three to five minutes can have positive effects on your blood’s circulation. And if you can’t go outside, you could even walk around your office building or within your room. Start out once a day, maybe an hour or so after lunch, or whenever you start feeling sleepy. Remember, just the point is to just get moving!
2. Stretching and yoga
But if even that is too much for you, simply stretching or doing some yoga might just do the trick. Stretching improves your overall circulation and helps prevent stiffness in your muscles and joints. Yet stretching also increases blood flow, all of which gives your brain much needed oxygen.
3. Breathe better!
One easy way to increase blood flow to your brain is to simply breathe through your nose and engage your diaphragm. Breathing through your nose increases your exposure to freshly oxygenated air while breathing with your diaphragm, or abdominal area, increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. This one is hard to remember, because when you’re really focused or into a particular task it’s easy to start holding your breath and breathing less often. But try to be mindful of your breathing and you’d be surprised how much better you can feel!
4. Eat superfoods, dark chocolate, and cayenne pepper
So called superfoods include nuts, seeds, berries and avocados. Nuts, seeds and avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce blood pressure and thus increase blood flow to your brain. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which are well-known to increase blood circulation while cayenne pepper has been associated with strengthening your arteries and blood vessels and increasing in your metabolic rate.
5. Drink water!
Staying hydrated is essential for your body and mind to function normally but water also increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. And no, drinking soda and coffee doesn’t replace refreshing and healthy water. Most experts suggest you drink eight to twelve cups of water a day, so roughly two liters. We suggest trying to drink one liter by the time you finish lunch, and the other by the time you finish dinner. But remember, if you work out you may just have to drink more!
6. Take a hot shower, but finish with cold water
A traditional way for many people in this world to keep healthy is to alternate between hot and cold. This practice has been shown to invigorate your body and mind, relieving stress, expelling toxins, all by just getting your blood flowing.