Your brain, like your body, needs exercise and care to remain fit and well-functioning. There are plenty of steps we can take to stave off forgetfulness and stay mentally sharp. In fact, the lifestyle choices we make every day may be the biggest factor in our ability to remain in top form.
Consider these smart tips for maintaining your cognitive health.
• Take your mind (and body) for a walk. Can walking the dog every day keep you sharp? It could well be so. There’s a definite link between physical fitness and mental sharpness as research continues to prove. Regular exercise helps maintain blood flow to the brain and spurs the growth of those brain neurons associated with memory and learning.
According to Harvard researchers, just 90 minutes a week of brisk walking, or around 15 minutes a day, is all that’s needed to delay cognitive decline. In another study, University of Pittsburgh scientists discovered the more older people walked, the better their cognitive abilities.
• Play brain games. Just as physical exercise is good for you, so is mental exercise. The brain is remarkably pliable and new brain cells along with brain cell connections can be formed at any age. You can stimulate the growth of brain cells by learning new skills and trying new things. So grab the controls to the latest video game, learn a foreign language, or tackle a challenging word puzzle to stimulate and strengthen your cognitive abilities.
• Choose “brain foods.” Eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and fish is vital to better brain health. The antioxidants and nutrients in fruits and veggies help protect brain function, while the Omega-3 fatty acids in such fish as salmon, tuna, and sardines are an important component in all neural tissue. Omega-3s lower levels of inflammation and sharpen your thinking. Not a fish lover? Walnuts and flaxseed are also great sources of Omega-3s. Try sprinkling ground flaxseed on your morning yogurt or whole grain cereal.
• Mind your social interactions. Researchers say men who are more socially engaged have a lower risk of developing dementia—another great reason to maintain social interactions with family and friends. Other social activities that can help keep your brain working at its full potential are joining clubs, enjoying the arts, traveling, and getting involved in community service activities. Depend® products can help you stay social with confidence.
• Switch things up. To hone your mental prowess, change up your routines or add in variety. When you walk, run, or drive, try varying your routes. Doing so exposes your senses to new stimulants and forces the brain to pick out new cues. Or try using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or to write a letter.
It just a smart idea to keep exercising your brainpower!
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