Activities to maintain a healthy brain

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

healthy-brain

A huge fear of getting older is "losing it" - not having the brain function to keep up with the things you once enjoyed.

Being slower to recall memories may be an inevitable part of aging, but there are things you can do to keep that process from creeping in too soon.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep and exercising is key to staying on top of your game. Research shows that aerobic exercise such as walking, running and swimming increase blood flow, which provides your brain with more oxygen-rich blood.

Additionally, if you smoke, stop. And limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage a day. All the things that are good for your physical health, are also good for your cognitive health.

CHALLENGE YOURSELF

Research shows that the more you push your brain, the more powerful it becomes. Some people get their challenge from their job. Others from a hobby. Other ideas are pursuing a higher education or even an adult education class.

If you're up for more challenge, try something completely new. If you never wear high heels, try walking around your house in them. The unfamiliar feeling will get your brain working in a new way. Also, if you're right-handed, do things left handed and vice versa. That's a real challenge that forces your mind out of the routine and into something new.

AVOID AUTOPILOT

We've all been there: First, you stop at the bank, then the grocery store, pick up the mail and head home. It's easy to fall into routine. However, that doesn't offer much challenge for your brain.

Shake things up a little. Run errands in a different order or drive a different route. In your free time, visit intellectually stimulating places such as museums, bookstores or libraries. Even trying a new recipe can give your brain enough of a workout to keep things fresh in your mind.

BE SOCIAL

Engaging in conversation requires the mind to work on receiving, interpreting and delivering messages, which is a great workout. Invite a friend out for coffee or join a book club at the library. Maybe your place of worship has group trips or card parties to attend.

Volunteering is also a great way to be more social. Find a cause that's near and dear to your heart, whether it's an animal shelter, hospital, school or homeless shelter, find something you're passionate about and pitch in. Beyond the social aspect of volunteering, you'll also get a boost of confidence and well-being that will keep you going back for more.

While doing puzzles and word games is certainly helpful, it's not the end-all-be-all for maintaining brain power. Those tasks don't require your mind to work multi-dimensionally, which is something you need to stay sharp.

Use your brain for problem solving,  planning and activities that involve clarity of thinking to get the most benefit. That doesn't mean you should put away your sudoku, just don't rely on it solely for your brain health.

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