Just as exercise improves your physical health, brain workouts strengthen your mind — boosting your memory and thinking skills. Even better, it’s never too late to begin exercising your most important muscle. Read on for 10 easy ways to stimulate your mind.
Your mind and body are interconnected. Often, what benefits the body benefits the brain. Regular exercise, even taking a simple walk, goes a long way toward improving your memory and cognitive skills, according to Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.
In fact, the foot’s impact during a walk sends pressure waves through the arteries, increasing blood flow and resulting in a healthier mind, according to researchers at New Mexico Highlands University. Try adding some of these physical activities to your daily or weekly routine to boost blood flow to your brain:
In a study in the journal Neurology, regular reading and writing in late life reduced the rate of memory decline by 32%.
Here are some great ways to make reading more of a habit:
Writing improves working memory and communication abilities. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you write because simply expressing yourself will boost your brain activity. These creative writing exercises can jump-start your creative energy.
Have fun, and enjoy a brain workout by writing one of the following:
You may know that nuts, fish, and red wine have been linked to a healthy brain, but reducing sugar intake can help stimulate your mind, too.
For an extra brain boost, Harvard Health suggests including these foods in your diet:
If your parent or teachers told you to sit up straight, they were right — maintaining an upright posture improves circulation and blood flow to the brain.
Here are three ways to improve your posture:
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), sleep deprivation can put you at greater long-term risk of physical and mental health problems, including reduced attention span, worsened memory, and mood changes. Memories and newly learned skills move to more permanent regions of the brain while you sleep. This makes them easier to recall.
Adults 65 and older should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night, says the NSF. If you’re between the ages of 26 and 64, seven to nine hours nightly is a good goal.
Struggling to fall or stay asleep? Try these tips:
Paint, color an adult coloring book, or grab a pen and paper and draw. Whether it’s a masterpiece or a mere doodle, making something artistic is an intellectual workout.
Games are another simple way to sharpen and stimulate your mind. Here are a few mind-stimulating games for seniors to enjoy with their loved ones:
Many people find listening to or playing music enjoyable, but that’s not the only benefit — it also improves memory function in older adults, according to a 2019 study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Finding your favorite tunes or learning to read or play music is easier than ever thanks to versatile platforms and technology:
Even if international travel isn’t in your plans, learning a new language can be beneficial. It improves cognitive functioning in older adults, according to a review of several studies in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Duolingo and Babble are both fun and effective virtual options for practicing a new language.
Learning a craft or skill can stimulate your mind, relieve boredom, and liven up your daily routine. Many colleges and senior centers offer engaging, low-cost lectures and classes for older adults. Whether you’re learning a new recipe or beefing up your computer skills, ongoing education is a surefire way to stay sharp.
Try out any of these mind-stimulating activities:
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Although there are no clinically proven ways to reverse the course of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, these tips may help combat normal, age-related mental decline. By continuing to find unique ways to stimulate your brain, you increase the odds your brain will thrive for years to come.
Cleveland Clinic. “Back, Side or Stomach: Which Sleep Position Is Best for You?”
Frontiers in Psychology. “Cognitive Benefits From a Musical Activity in Older Adults.”
Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods linked to better brainpower.”
National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD).“Posture is Essential to Balance and Function.”
Sleep Foundation. “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?”
Sleep Foundation. “Memory and Sleep.”
National Sleep Foundation. “Sleep Deprivation.”
ScienceDaily. “How walking benefits the brain.”