The idea of working out one’s brain may seem strange. But treating the brain as a muscle (it’s not: it’s an organ) and regularly exercising it can reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 63-percent, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine. Here are 8 activities, tricks, and tips for keeping your mind sharp.
- Cross-train your brain by doing exercises that work out both the right and lefts sides. Activities that fit this bill include Sudoku, crossword puzzles, Scrabble, and Chinese Checkers.
- Learn something new. Neuroscientist Daniel Amen, MD, recommends taking 15 minutes each day to practice a new skill or craft a new hobby. This keeps the brain engaged and prevents pathways from disconnecting.
- Feed your brain. Foods rich in antioxidants (berries, dark leafy greens, beets, tomatoes) or omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, walnuts) support brain health.
- Sweat. A University of Illinois study showed that aerobic exercise increased brain volume and white matter, which aids connectivity between brain cells.
- Switch it up and use your non-dominant hand to perform mundane tasks like brushing your teeth, stirring food, or washing the dishes. It expands brain circuits connected to that hand, leading to increased mental agility.
- Play on your phone. A University of Iowa study showed that playing brain-training video games increased concentration, memory, and the ability to shift quickly between tasks (think: driving). Many brain-fitness games are available for download to smartphones and tablets.
- Break out the jigsaw puzzles, which utilize visual, spatial, and tactile areas of the brain. Another activity that triggers these areas: dancing.
- Grab a book, magazine, or newspaper. A study in Neurology showed that reading stimulates the growth of new neurons and synapses in the brain, plus improves concentration, focus, and memory.
Add to the List
Did you notice any missing tips for keeping your brain sharp? Share them in our comments section with fellow readers and we can all keep our minds sharp.