Chicago Home and Lifestyles – 10 ways to exercise your brain.
1. Physical exercise – yes, it actually does exercise your brain! There have been several studies indicating that 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity can reduce the chances of developing dementia by 17-21%.
2. Play a sport – along with getting the benefits of exercise, you must think of a strategy and know where your teammates are and what they are doing.
3. Learn a new language – people who are bilingual develop dementia at a lower rate than those who speak only one language. While it stimulates the brain it also may make you interact with different people than you normally would have.
4. Be social – all parts of your brain are being involved and integrated. Memory, vision, thought and language. Even just calling a friend on the phone can give you both a brain boost!
5. Do some math – instead of using your calculator app on your phone, do your calculations the old-fashioned way. Studies show seniors who do basic math and reading problems daily for six months experience boosts in executive function and processing.
6. Play an instrument – studies show people who play instruments will have better episodic memory, memory of the past whether a few days ago or 20 years. It requires you to mix touch with hearing and remembering.
7. Do puzzles – numbers, jigsaw, and crosswords are especially effective. Jigsaw puzzles improve your spatial visual ability. Sudoku is good for logic, and uses your frontal lobe. Crosswords increase your ability to store vocabulary and think of words verbally.
8. Stimulate your senses – choose activities that use all your senses. Even cooking can stimulate all the senses. From the delicious smells, to the feel of chopping, to the sight of the prepared dish, to finally the taste. Even taking a walk can do the same if we notice all that’s going on. Feel the sun and breeze. Smell the fresh air and flowers. Hear the birds and see all the nature in front of you.
9. Meditate – studies show people with moderate cognitive degeneration benefit from 30 minutes daily of guided meditation. There are apps that will help you to meditate. It can also reduce stress.
10. Sleep – this should actually be #1 as it is probably the most important! Sleep regulates metabolism, reduces mental fatigue, and improves memory recall. High quality sleep is essential for our brains to function at their best. Sleep removes toxins from our brains and lets the brain reorganize itself. So beat brain fog by getting at least 7 hours of good sleep.
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago