Throughout March, Kaiser Permanente has highlighted the importance of life-long learning in maintaining and improving health as part of its “Wellbeing 365: Stress Less & Thrive” initiative in partnership with the city of Santa Monica.

Through the partnership, which launched in September along with the city’s most recent Wellbeing Survey results, Kaiser Permanente and the city produced a series of short videos, in English and in Spanish, that offer tips and advice from many of Kaiser Permanente’s medical professionals on how Santa Monicans can improve wellbeing in the different parts of their lives.

“We should never stop learning,” says Naibe Reynoso, the host of the above video, which was produced as part of the Wellbeing 365 initiative. “Life-long learning in and out of the classroom promotes constant development, personal growth, and challenge.”

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According to the city’s wellbeing index, Reynoso notes, one-third of Santa Monica residents don’t take the opportunity to learn a new skill, sport, or language.

“Developing a new skill is also a way to keep our minds sharp, whether it’s learning to play a musical instrument or taking up a new sport,” Doctor Ivan Barrow, Kaiser Permanente’s assistant area medical director of Women’s and Children’s Health Services, says in the video.

“Other forms of mental stimulation, like reading and writing, also give your brain a mental workout. We can also keep our minds active by being social, making new friends, and reconnecting with old friends,” he says.

In the video, Santa Monica College Public Information Officer Grace Singh Smith highlights the fact that the college offers community-oriented classes. The classes, offered through SMC’s community education branch, are for members of the community who may not be able to commit to a whole semester but would like to access the college’s resources, she says.

      Other important things to note about good brain health, according to Kaiser Permanente experts, include:

 

  •  Good brain health helps children and adults adapt to the challenges of everyday life, resist infections, cope with adversity, feel a sense of personal well-being, and inter­act with our surroundings in ways that promote successful development.
  • The foundation for lifelong brain health starts in childhood as that’s when the construction of brain architecture begins.
  • Since early experiences are built into our brains, it’s important that children are exposed to positive experiences and environments at an early age.
  • As we age, our brain function changes.
  • We gain more wisdom and knowledge, but we also experience other normal effects, such as memory loss. 
  • The good news is the human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change — even into old age, and there are ways we can improve our brain function.
  • One is by experiencing new things. The brain makes new connections throughout our lives.
  • Each time you learn something new your brain builds new pathways.
  • Exercise is also very important as the brain and body are very connected. Studies show that exercise stimulates new cell growth in the brain and can increase our mental abilities.
  • A good night of sleep (about eight hours) is also crucial for proper brain function.
  • Diet plays a key role in keeping the brain healthy. The brain works best when it’s properly hydrated and when we follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • These simple lifestyle choices can also help reduce one’s risk of cognitive decline, which can lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
  • The best way to build your brain power is to stay healthy and actively use your mind.

Disclosure: Kaiser Permanente contributed to Santa Monica Next’s coverage of wellbeing issues in Santa Monica. Kaiser Permanente does not have editorial control over Next’s coverage of this topic or any other topic.