Eating a healthy, balanced diet and undertaking regular exercise should always be at the core when working to reach a ripe old age. Diet and exercise are the keys to a healthy mind and body, but what specific activities exercise the brain, keeping it healthy and active?
Whether you have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, you’re worried about being diagnosed, or you aim to do all you can to avoid brain deterioration, then these exercises and tips will help.
Puzzles and Games
There are a lot of ‘brain trainers’ available for your phone, PC, or in good old-fashioned book form. These are a fun way to keep your brain stimulated and thinking in different directions so that you stay cognitively active.
Ideally, you should choose a puzzle or game you normally may bypass. For example, try a numerical puzzle like sudoku if you are a wiz at crosswords. Don’t rule out old favorites like jigsaw puzzles either – these make the brain work not only on a thinking level, conjuring up strategies to complete it, but also on a visual level, thus giving the brain’s cognitive function a workout.
Video games are also a great way of making the brain work harder; playing confronts the brain with new and challenging concepts and information, which is a superb brain workout. In fact, many older people who may be suffering from MCI memory issues are finding solace in playing video games these days – it helps to keep their minds engaged, which works wonders for their memory. So, what better excuse is there than to go off and become a mage or warrior for the day and complete a quest? It’s good for your brain, after all!
Arts and Crafts
There are so many hobby crafts and arts to choose from. The problem isn’t necessarily “should you take up a craft?” Rather, it’s more like, “where do you start?!”
The stores of today are chock full of creative items to help you decide what kind of arts and crafts you want to pursue – from painting supplies that’ll have you on your way to becoming the next Leonardo da Vinci to coloring pencils and pens. Don’t stress about what kind of craft to dive into – just be creative and have fun; your brain will love it.
If the arts don’t spark interest, then how about making jewelry? Finding out how it’s made, designing pieces, crafting treasures, and solving the problems you come across will be like press-ups for the brain.
Reading and Writing
When you read a book, you have to continually remember what has happened before, or the whole story makes no sense – this is called ‘working memory, and it’s a superb brain exercise.
What’s also great about reading is the fact that it improves your vocabulary and learning power. If you come across a word unknown to you, you can look it up – and the brain loves new information. Does the book mention a specific town or city? Look that up too!
Furthermore, why would you confine yourself to reading other people’s words? You could wite the next bestseller if that’s one of your dreams! Whether you want to become the next J.K Rowling or simply enjoy writing for yourself or people in your social network, you can get into writing – and it’s fantastic for the brain. Plus, there are writing courses available in most cities as well as online classes, so there’s no excuse not to take one if you want to learn how to write.
Ultimately, not only will you be learning and taking your brain down the gym when you read and write, but you will also get to meet new people if you join book clubs or write stories for others to read – and that socialization is what the brain craves. What else does the brain crave? New information, of course – and books and people have plenty of that.
Many of the above activities involve socializing; this is another glorious way of keeping the brain in tip-top condition. Humans are social creatures, and mingling and interacting with others members of the species contributes to mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Overall, it’s important that you don’t isolate yourself if you want your brain kept in a state of peak performance – go to lunches with friends, coworkers, and family on a regular basis, speak to new people either face to face or via video chat, and you could even adopt a pet since animals also provide humans with the much-needed love and social interaction they require to thrive.
More importantly, though, live life to the fullest – when you love your brain, and it will love you in return.