Exercising your body as you age comes with many benefits, such as helping with preventing heart disease and decreasing risk for falls, back pain, and strokes – among many other benefits. Just as there are advantages to exercising your body as you age, exercising your brain is also proven to benefit you, according to brain research.
The Brain Can Adapt
The good news is that the brain of an older person can still effectively function like a brain that is 10 younger. Older brains can create new neural connections if the opportunity is given. Evidence suggests that stimulating cognitive challenges can actually sharpen your brain and make it act and feel younger.
Growing older doesn’t mean that your mental abilities have to be reduced. You can do a lot to keep your mind alert and sharp. Many researchers believe that a lot of the alleged age-related changes that affect one’s mind are lifestyle related. Just as your muscles become weaker over time if you don’t exercise them, so does the brain.
People can be more productive, happier and healthier overall by taking care of themselves. Here you can learn more about how you can increase your brain fitness level to keep it healthy while aging.
Age-Related Changes in the brain
There is a close connection between the body and the brain. Any degeneration found in the brain not only impacts a person’s cognitive function but also can play a part in a person’s personality, weight, mood, appetite and blood pressure.
One large scale study, organized by the University of Exeter, shows that stimulating the brain can help people to stay mentally fit later in life. The investigation examined data of over 2,000 mentally fit people who were over the age of 65. They looked at the theory that life experiences in early or mid-life that challenge the brain make people less likely to experience age- or illness-related changes and that their cognitive reserve is higher.
People can take action to reduce the chances of mental decline, taking control of their mental health by way of healthy living in combination with activities that are mentally stimulating. Engaging in stimulating activity that stretches the brain while challenging it to use various strategies that exercise multiple networks has been proven to develop higher cognitive reserve. This creates a buffer within the brain that makes the brain more resilient. Signs of decline, including dementia and other illnesses, are more evident when this buffer is not present.
How You Can Improve Your Mental Fitness
According to researchers at Sanford University in the US, memory loss can be improved by up to 50 percent merely by doing mental exercises. Here are some ways you can keep your brain fit while aging:
– Read a lot – soak up books, newspapers and magazines regularly.
– Take a course on a subject that is interesting to you.
– Find a new hobby.
– Learn a new language.
– Play thinking games, such as Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, card games, etc.
– Do word games and crossword puzzles.
– Keep stress under control with mindful meditation and relaxation. An excess of cortisol (a stress hormone) can adversely affect neurons.
– Play games that challenge memory and intellect, such as chess.
– Get plenty of sleep.
– Have good social connections.
– Eat a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and transaturated fats.
– Exercise regularly.
– Don’t smoke.
– Limit alcoholic drinks to one a day or less.
– Repeat what you know. If you have just heard, thought about or read something, write it down or repeat it out loud. This helps to reinforce connections and memory.
The latest research, including the publications by Dr. Fotuhi, show that we can indeed grow our brain to make it sharper and younger. To learn more about how you can improve mental fitness, check out Dr. Fotuhi’s Brain Fitness Program at NeuroGrow.com
This blog was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.