Most people know how important physical activity is to aging well. While we might not always be successful, we try to set and stick with our fitness goals. What you may not know, however, is how vital it is to give our brain the daily workout that it needs to stay healthy, too.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds. But by improving your brain health through mental exercise, it’s possible to reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
In honor of National Brain Awareness Week, we are sharing suggestions on what you can do to keep your brain fit.
Brain Aerobics & Healthy Aging
According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, there are three ways you can improve brain health:
- Engage in activities that involve more than one of the senses.
- Participate in activities you enjoy enough to stick with and continue mastering.
- Incorporate activities that break up your daily routine and force you to try something new.
Here are a few activities that meet those criteria:
- Tackle a new language: This can be as easy as listening to an instructional CD while you drive to the grocery store or clean the house. As little as 10 minutes a day spent practicing a new language can boost your brain health.
- Be creative: Another way to pump up your grey matter is by participating in creative projects. Whether you take an online watercolor class or join a photography group at your local senior center or craft store, art challenges the mind and spirit.
- Socialize more: Staying actively engaged with life also helps your brain stay healthy. Take a class at a nearby community college—many offer them to seniors for free or at a substantial discount. Join a walkers group at your local mall or fitness center. Have a standing lunch date with friends each week.
- Make music: Besides being a lot of fun, learning how to play a new instrument also stimulates the brain. Music schools, guitar stores, and community education programs are great places to explore your musical side.
- Read: Reading keeps the brain stimulated. The more you read, the more engaged your brain stays. An inexpensive way to keep reading is by checking out books or e-books from your local library. Most libraries offer one-on-one assistance to help seniors master e-book loans.
- Play games: Puzzles and games are another group of activities that stimulate the brain. You can enjoy them on your own—like crossword puzzles and word searches—or by hosting a monthly game night with friends and family.