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.
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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.
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