As we age it becomes increasingly important that we are taking steps to keep our minds active and sharp. Some of us are all too familiar with those awkward conversations where your brain can’t remember the person’s name that you’re talking to and you conclude the encounter with “See you later… buddy.”
To help combat forgetfulness and other mental lapses, there are a number of exercises you can participate in. Some of these exercises are even believed to slow the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
To get an idea of how to maintain your mental acuity at any age, take a look at these ways to keep your brain healthy.
Believe it or not, one of the most important things you can do to preserve your mental health is to maintain your physical health. Exercising, eating healthy and eliminating stress will go a long way in making you feel that you are in a healthy state of mind.
Even though it’s easier to sit on the couch and watch Netflix, exercising really is a crucial step in improving the fitness of your brain. Studies according to CNN have shown that moderate exercise is all it takes to increase memory and quicken your mental processing speed. Simply walking three times a week will help your brain form new neural connections which means you will be able to learn more quickly and keep up with your kids next time you play a new board game.
In the same way that eating healthy promotes your physical health, watching your diet is vital to your mental health. It’s safe to say that we’ve all had a Twinkie or two, but research has found that those with high-fat diets and obese individuals have increased risks of developing dementia. Maintaining a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes will help keep your mind sharp.
Lowering stress levels is another important aspect to your mental wellness. While watching your favorite team lose in the World Cup may be worth the stress, increased levels of stress has been tied with the development of dementia. Meditation and laughter are healthy practices that will keep your stress levels low.
Learning Something New
No matter what age you are, diving into something that you’ve never done before can do nothing but help your brain. The more you use your brain, the healthier it will be and the better it is going to perform for you. Experts say that the “use it or lose it” concept applies especially to your brain—even more so than your motor muscle memory. For that reason, experts encourage you to learn new and fun mental activities.
Some of those activities that promote maximum stimulation of the brain include learning a new language, reading and learning how to play an instrument. Participating in one of these activities will stretch your brain in new ways and may help motivate you to travel to that foreign country you’ve always wanted to go to or buy that “Oboe for Beginners” book you’ve been eyeing.
Learning something new can also mean stepping outside of your normal routine. If you’re already an avid reader, start increasing the level of difficulty of the books you read and start expanding your vocabulary by learning a new word every day. Changing your route to work or using your non-dominant hand more will help expand your brain’s capacity to learn quickly in new circumstances.
Maintaining Your Social Connections
Whether you’re known as the social butterfly or the shy one, making it a point to maintain social interactions is a healthy practice for your brain. Having stimulating conversations about challenging topics will help you think more clearly and precisely.
Engaging in relationships with your loved ones by telling stories from that nightmare family reunion will help eliminate stress and exercises your memory. Playing challenging card games with your friends or joining a local organization are some other ways you can maintain social connections. Studies have shown that living alone or avoiding social ties increases your risk of dementia, so get out there and be social!