6 Exercises To Keep Your Mind Active and Sharp At Any Age
Despite popular belief, cognitive decline is not a natural part of aging. When severe cognitive decline does occur, it is typically the result of a brain injury, illness or disorder. In otherwise healthy individuals, however, significant memory loss is abnormal, and even preventable. In fact, not only can you prevent cognitive decline but also, you can boost your brain power by exercising your body’s most important muscle. Below are six exercises you can start doing today to keep your brain in tip-top shape long into the future.
Learn a New Word
Those word-a-day calendars are onto something … By learning a new word daily and incorporating it into your daily vocabulary, you can activate several regions of your brain at once. While it can’t hurt to invest in a word-a-day product, you can make do with the reading materials you have at home. Just keep a notebook with you as you read, write down any new words you come across and make it a point to look it up in the dictionary. Try to use the new word at least five times the next day.
When you were younger, you probably played Go-Fish and Uno on a daily basis. However, now that you’re an adult, chances are that you can’t remember the last time you played a hand of cards. You may want to change that.
According to researchers, a quick game of cards can increase brain volume in several regions of the muscle. It can also increase your thinking skills and boost your memory. If you’re at a loss for card games, try the following:
- Crazy eights
- Gin rummy
It sounds so simple, but the power of reading to boost brain power cannot be stressed enough. According to findings published in Neurology, you can reduce the rate of memory decline by as much as 32% by simply reading and writing on a regular basis. In addition to setting aside 30 or more minutes each day to read, consider other ways you can make reading fun. Join a book club, or start one on your own. Read to your children or grandchildren, and subscribe to a new magazine.
Just like your physical health depends on what you eat, so too does your brain health. In addition to your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, implement other brain-healthy foods into your diet. Salmon in particular is full of omega-3s, which are an essential component of the building blocks of your brain. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, which have been known to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Eggs and blueberries are also associated with increased brain health and improved cognitive function.
Play Games and Draw
Strategy games, such as Sudoku, Scrabble and chess, all force you to exercise your critical thinking capabilities and, therefore, boost brain power. Drawing, doodling or even just coloring in an adult coloring book can improve your focus, attention and overall cognitive functioning. Not only that, but drawing also has the potential to make you more resilient and better equipped to deal with stressful situations. A fun yet challenging drawing exercise to try is drawing a map of your home town from memory.
Try Using Your Non-Dominant Hand
According to a published neurobiologist, some of the best exercises for your brain are those that aren’t necessarily easy. Many people struggle to do even the most everyday things, such as eating, writing or brushing their hair with their nondominant hand. So, challenge yourself and try using your opposite hand for a single activity here and there. Increase its use as you begin to master it. Though seemingly simple, learning to become ambidextrous is a great way to keep your brain sharp and active.
Cognitive decline is not an inevitability. You can prevent decline and even boost your brain power by trying the above six exercises.