There might not be much you can do about those crow’s feet, grey hairs or that thinning hairline, but there’s plenty you can be doing to keep your brain as sharp as a tack. A healthy body is the start to a healthy mind as it’s easy to forget, they’re part of the same system. On top of physical exercise, there’s a whole host of other activities you can combine in your own time to keep your mind fresh.
Playing games and puzzles
Whether it’s a game of chess or firing up a PlayStation/Xbox, there’s plenty of evidence that games, particularly those that involve problem solving, are great for strengthening your cognitive muscles. Puzzles, brainteasers and crossword are also a great idea so break out that sudoku book whenever you get a chance. Even the perennial favourite Tetris has been proven to increase gray matter in the brain.
Learning to dance
Sure, you know how to dance already (eye roll), but that’s no reason you can’t add a few more steps into your dancefloor arsenal. The mental challenge of learning coordinated dance steps, combined with the physical exercise itself is a proven winner in lowering your risks of dementia. One US study found that elderly people who took up dancing lowered their risk of dementia by 75%.
Play an instrument
If you like music, you’re probably liking this list already. If you aren’t the dancing type, that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved with music, as learning a musical instrument has been proven to provide great benefits for your brain. Whether you learn to play a harp or a ukulele, it doesn’t matter. Studies have shown that learning an instrument over a number of years significantly boosts your memory in later life.
Learn another language
Not just for impressing your friends and ordering food, learning another language can also play a vital role in delaying the onset of dementia. Research has shown that people who speak two or more languages developed dementia an average of four years later than people who only spoke one language. People who speak two languages have also shown to be better at multitasking and paying attention in their later years.
Read quality over quantity
In today’s world of mobile phones and the internet, you can read hundreds of articles on any topic your heart desires. The problem with that is that there’s only so much information your brain can take before you’re overloading it. Experts say you’re better off reading one or two “good” articles, and taking the time to reflect on them, than you are reading dozens of articles quickly without taking the time to process them properly.
The secret overall, is to find activities that provide stimulation and a challenge for your brain, without contributing to stress. Variety is the spice of life, so mix up your daily activities so that you’re keeping your brain on its toes. While it can be tempting to want to “switch off” after a hard day/week at work, remember that the exercise you give your brain today can potentially buy you a better of quality of life in your later years.