Though the human brain is not a muscle, it has similar requirements to maintain flexibility and longevity. We know that proper nutrition and exercise benefits the body. It is the same with the brain. Keep your mind sharp by giving your brain what it needs to keep functioning properly. Here are a few ideas:
Learn New Things
Thanks to the Internet, there is no shortage of resources for learning new things. You can challenge yourself from the comfort of home and give the brain the workout it needs. Take on a new language with free programs that are easy and enjoyable, like Duolingo. If you always wanted to learn how to play chess, Chesscademy offers videos, interactive exercises and skill tests to help you master the game. Sporcle is a comprehensive trivia website with an amazing amount of quizzes and challenges in a variety of topics. Look for continuing education classes at a local college or community center if you prefer to get out of the house.
Move Your Body
It’s true that shaking your booty can boost blood flow to the brain and help improve verbal memory and thinking skills. But you don’t have to go to the gym or run a marathon to get that needed exercise. Try dancing. A study by the renowned gerontologist, Dr. Joe Verghese, found that dancing is the perfect aerobic movement because of its physical and mental complexity. Put the music on and become a mall walker. Not only will the walking be good for you but several studies have shown listening to music (especially classical) activates all parts of the brain improving cognitive flexibility. A new study by the Journal of Neuroimaging says Tai Chi improves biochemical mechanisms affecting brain health.
Making the switch from coffee to tea might help keep your mind sharp. A recent study in Singapore found drinking tea daily reduces cognitive decline by nearly 50 percent. It’s widely known the antioxidants in green tea can help prevent brain aging caused by stress. Drinking Ginkgo Biloba in tea form can improve memory even in dementia patients. The herb, gotu cola, is used in India as a tea thought to improve cognitive function. Research by British Dr. Mark Moss discovered that peppermint tea can affect moods and increase long term memory.
One of the most important things individuals can do at all ages is to set daily goals. Having a purpose in life wards off depression and increases longevity. Depression is directly related to cognitive decline. Being active and purposeful every day strengthens the sense of self and makes us happier. Make a short to-do list in the morning and work to accomplish those goals.
Social engagement is important too. Spending time with others helps slow the onset of dementia and can lead to a more fulfilling life. Dr. Michelle C. Carlson, a professor at John Hopkins, believes a socially active environment can actually reverse part of the aging process in the brain. Volunteering for a cause that is meaningful to you is a great way to get started.
Keeping your hands busy with activities like knitting and gardening can relieve stress. Several studies have concluded participating in arts and crafts has a positive effect on the brain. That sculpting or woodworking project you took on is not only about creating a masterpiece. It may well be preventing mild cognitive impairment by stimulating the brain. A Mayo Clinic study found that people who worked in arts like quilting and painting were 73 percent less apt to experience impairment than those who did not.
Feel free to tell us how you keep your mind young and sharp in the comments below. Are there apps or games you use regularly?