How can you keep your brain sharp and your memory intact? Follow these three simple tips.
You know the feeling, even if you can’t pinpoint when it started. Sometimes, you can’t remember a person’s name or why you came into the kitchen or where you left the car keys, and you begin to worry. We seniors expect the normal aches and pains that come with our bodies aging, and we know what to do to help keep them at bay — we exercise. Maybe you walk daily, take a water aerobics class or play tennis with a friend. But what about our brains? Are there exercises that help us stay mentally sharp? Experts all agree: There are a number of ways to keep our brains as healthy as our bodies.
Here are our three tips for staying mentally sharp — they’re easier than you think.
- Exercise regularly
Just as walking, biking, swimming or any other activity you enjoy helps with keeping you physically in shape, regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain and reduces the risk of dementia. One study, published in Neurology, examined a group of people who had retained excellent cognitive function in their 70s and 80s. During the eight-year study period, researchers found that people who exercised moderately to vigorously at least once a week were 31% more likely to maintain their cognitive function. You don’t have to run a marathon (unless you want to), but if you’re not exercising regularly, set aside a time of day and start slowly — maybe take a daily walk around the block or sign up for a senior citizens’ class such as yoga.
- Eat a healthy diet
Are you eating coffee cake in the morning, skipping lunch and then eating fast-food for dinner? If so, you’re missing a chance to restore your physical energy levels as well as help you stay mentally sharp. People who consume lots of vegetables and fatty fish do better — and maintain a healthy weight — did better when cognitive function was measured in another study published in PLoS One. Start by eating a healthy, easy-to-fix breakfast, like a bowl of bran cereal with skim milk and blueberries.
- Stimulate your brain
First, remember that it’s perfectly normal to forget a name, word or place where you’ve stored something. But you can benefit your memory capabilities by interacting with friends and family, learning new skills, playing challenging games or working crossword puzzles, and taking classes. Don’t be afraid to try something new — it may turn into a passion.