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 brain.
Your mind and body are interconnected so, 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.
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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%.
Make reading more of a habit by:
You may know that nuts, fish, and red wine have been linked to a healthy brain. For an extra brain boost, try including these foods in your diet, suggests Healthline:
If your mother or teachers told you to sit up, they were right to — maintaining an upright posture improves circulation and blood flow to the brain. Here are three ways to improve yours:
Sleep problems can lead to trouble with memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions, says the National Institute on Aging. Memories and newly learned skills move to more permanent regions of the brain while you sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). 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 get to, or stay, asleep? Try these tips:
Paint, color in 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 fun games for your brain:
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 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 Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
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, beefing up your computer skills, ongoing education is a surefire way to stay sharp. What interests you?
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 9 easy writing exercises can jumpstart your creative energy. Have fun, and enjoy a brain workout by writing one of the following:
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.
Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.