How Old Is Your Brain?
Tips to keep your mind young and healthy.
Mental decline is a feared part of the aging process, but is it inevitable? It doesn’t have to be. With simple ways to boost your brainpower you can reduce the chance of memory loss. Besides eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of B vitamins, getting regular physical exercise to increase blood flow to the brain, and avoiding other unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking and excessive drinking, one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp is mental stimulation.
Brain cells are like muscle cells—they begin to atrophy when not used. Starting as early as age 30, the connections between your brain cells begin to diminish, making you susceptible to memory loss if you don’t train your brain to stay young. Through brain exercises, new connections are created and new cells are generated, protecting your brain from future memory loss.
Here are five ways to stimulate your brain.
Read to Stimulate
Make regular trips to the library and stock up on books to read. Reading keeps your mind engaged, unlike mindless television watching. Read about subjects you know little about and challenge your mind with difficult material. Read a magazine, read the daily newspaper, or just read a novel in a genre you enjoy.
Do Puzzles to Stimulate
Problem solving is a wonderful way to keep your mind young and sharp. Don’t pick up the calculator but solve a math problem in your head. Find the newspaper or search online and give your best shot at a crossword puzzle. In your spare time, figure out a Sudoku puzzle or solve brainteasers like logic problems, anagrams, or rebuses. Spend quality family time in the evening working together on a jigsaw puzzle or playing a game that engages the mind like Scrabble, chess, or even certain video games.
Learn to Stimulate
Don’t believe people when they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. You’re never too old to learn something new. It may take you longer, but you can do it. Try learning a foreign language, how to play an instrument, new dance moves, an unfamiliar game, or how to draw. Take a course or two at your local community college or go back to school. Sign up for a new class at your gym. Watch YouTube videos on how to tile your bathroom or make a holiday wreath. Just do something new!
Do a Hobby to Stimulate
Get creative and pass the time with a hobby. Learn a how to do a new project or find an old one buried in the closet. Examples include quilting, knitting, woodwork, putting together model airplanes, baking, writing poems, or painting. The options are nearly endless. The point is to challenge your mind and to enjoy doing it.
Be Social to Stimulate
A fifth way to improve the health of your mind is to spend time with family and friends. You were created to be social, and interacting with other people stimulates your brain. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that the more social you are, the slower your rate of memory decline. With this in mind, call up a friend, plan a party, or join a club.
While you’re with your friends, have fun. Laughter is good for your brain also, so tell a few jokes, watch a funny movie, and bring up fun memories.
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