Fit Minds Require Healthy Bodies
- By Leahcim Semaj
Mental fitness means that your brain is not only healthy and free from disease or injury, but that it is working in its optimal state. This is then by definition a subset of being physically fit, a condition in which oxygen and nutrients are being effectively delivered to your brain. Mental fitness is going beyond simply being mentally healthy. It is exercising and conditioning your brain or mind, so that it is stronger and has more thinking endurance. Mental condition is when your brain is in a highly effective state. (Ron Kurtis, 2012 – http://www.school-for-champions.com/vitality/mental_fitness.htm)
Role of physical fitness
“Physical activity appears to be good for the brain as well as the body,” study author Dr. Deborah E. Barnes of the VA Medical Center in San Francisco, California, reports. “Older adults with higher levels of cardio-respiratory fitness experience a slower rate of cognitive decline over time,” she added.
Cardio-respiratory fitness describes the heart’s and lungs’ efficiency in processing oxygen, Barnes explained. “People who are not very fit have difficulty processing oxygen when they exercise – that is why they get ‘winded’ or have difficulty breathing,” she said.
Since your brain is part of your body, your physical fitness affects the effectiveness of the operation of your brain. Being physically fit allows blood flow to effectively reach the various muscles in your body, as well as your brain.
For people who are in good physical shape, more oxygen and needed nutrients are supplied to the brain to allow it to work effectively. It is also a fact that being in good health prevents toxins from affecting the brain and such conditions as clogged arteries from depriving the brain of oxygen. People with such conditions often cannot think as effectively as they once did. When we look at mental health from the physical aspect is really the health of your brain that we speak of.
We can compare the conscious mind to a computer. You process incoming information. Your store information in your memory and recall it later. You analyze problems and solve them, as well as making decisions, based on logic, emotions and past experiences. Some people simply don’t know how to think and there are others who don’t like to do it. For some, thinking seems to require great effort and is often times avoided. There are also many who are not capable of anything resembling Critical Thinking.
The truth is that you can build the strength of your mind by simply using it and stretching its capabilities. Trying to solve difficult problems that can strain your ability to think is a good way to build up your mental strength. This in the same way that exercising with weights enables the physical body to get stronger. Reading requires much more mental processing than mindlessly “vegging” in front of the television set. In fact, even thought provoking conversations can build your mental strength. A good debate to try to prove your point can tax your mind and help it grow. Effective functioning in a modern competitive world requires mental stamina. You need not only to be able to think clearly, but you need to be able to do so for a long time without fatigue. In this way your brain is somewhat like a muscle in that the more you use it, the stronger and even larger it gets. With good physical conditioning and mental strength, your stamina or mental endurance will also increase.