Now, we know you’ve probably heard plenty of times how important it is to keep a healthy brain as you age. There’s always the typical solutions – drink coffee, exercise, meditate, eat more Omega-3s, take the right medications. While those are all important to bear in mind, what you may not know is there are plenty of FUN (and effective) ways to keep your brain active and healthy!
Let’s take a look at our top five healthy brain tips:
1. Challenge Your Brain
Crosswords, Sudokus, puzzles… well, those are all great (and they certainly help the frontal lobe of your brain). But if you want to really give your brain some good exercise, try Lumosity.
Lumosity is a new way to train your brain. It is aimed to activate not just your frontal lobe, but all other areas of your brain as well. Scientists at Lumosity have created a system that accurately evaluates your mental speed, flexibility, memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. They create a personalized brain exercise program just for you that you can do on your computer or tablet device!
The best part? The exercises are, believe it or not, FUN! From trains to animals to fun shapes and colors, Lumosity has it all. While there is a monthly fee, we guarantee it is well worth it. Lumosity has proven benefits that help train all parts of your brain and greatly diminish cognitive decline.
But here’s the trick: consistency. It doesn’t help to just do one brain game a week. In fact, a recent study showed that older adults who did crossword puzzles four times a week had lower risks of dementia than those who did just one a week. Lumosity has the same effect – they recommend sticking to the program at least 3 times a week in order to reap the full benefits. But we assure you it’s all fun and games!
2. Find Your Inner Explorer
It never hurts to venture somewhere new. And for your brain, it actually helps.
You can easily improve brain functioning by just exploring your hometown and finding what all it has to offer. Change it up and try a coffee shop you never have before, or go to that clothing store you’ve always wanted to check out.
Kill two birds with one stone by getting your daily exercise and exploring something new – go for a walk to your local grocery store or farmer’s market and try the latest seasonal produce (Both aerobic exercise and trying something different have proven to help your memory).
Exploration increases functioning in parts of your brain that deal with spatial orientation, planning, organization, and navigation. Whether you discover a new route on your daily walk or you travel to a different country, your inner explorer is sure to keep your brain sharper than ever before.
3. Learn Something New
Brain games? Check. Exploration? Check.
What else? Learn a new language. Well, really just learn anything new!
Take a new class, pick up a new hobby, find a new restaurant – Anything new to spice up your life will only help keep you brain engaged and fit.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing significantly impacts brain cognition in older adults because of the need to memorize dance steps, work with a partner, and synchronize to the music. Learning a new language also drastically increases functioning in the verbal, language, and memory parts of your brain.
The Wall Street Journal suggests learning a new instrument or playing games like chess and bridge – anything that requires you to strategize while also being socially engaged.
So go for it and try that instrument you’ve always wanted to, or spend some time with your friends speaking a different tongue. Any new activity will get you well on your way to a healthier brain. Besides, variety is the spice of life!
The best (and most fun) way to keep your brain healthy is to socialize! This may come as a surprise, but studies show that maintaining friendships and staying engaged in your community will actually help prevent cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s. So take some time out of your day to call up an acquaintance, meet a friend for lunch, even host a party… Improving your health has never felt so fun!
Of course, it’s not only important to keep old friendships but also to make new ones. Interacting with various types of personalities and engaging in activities with different friends will only help your brain stay active and healthy as you grow older. A study featured in Health Psychology revealed that older adults who reported more demands from social companionships had better overall cognitive functioning.
So get out there and get social – volunteer groups, community centers, block parties, whatever suits your fancy. There’s always room for some new friends!
Stitch is a great way to find new companionships for your various interests, but you might also consider hosting a party or forming a club and asking each of your guests to invite one friend. That way, everyone can meet a new face and you can help expand your circle of friends!
5. Surf the Web
That’s right, surfing the web can actually boost your brainpower! We know, it sounds crazy, but studies have proven this time and time again. AND, it’s fun!
Research shows that navigating the Internet activates parts of your brain that deal with complex reasoning and decision-making. Watching TV is a passive, non-engaging activity, but browsing online is actually the opposite – active and engaging.
In fact, just reading this post has already improved your brain functioning and helped you reduce the risks of dementia! (Now, you don’t have to feel guilty for all that online shopping.) To you, we say keep up the good work! Continue checking out sites like Stitch, shopping online, and playing games on the Internet – your brain will thank you later!
Stitch is a community which helps anyone over 50 find the companionship they need.