You’ve may have heard the phrase “use it or lose it” in reference to certain types of learning—perhaps speaking a foreign language—or maybe regarding physical fitness. But did you ever stop to think this might be relevant for your brain as well?
The human brain is the largest muscle in our bodies. And research indicates that the more we work it, the better it works! Mentally stimulating activities are associated with a variety of brain health benefits including lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, higher levels of memory and recall, and increased ability to perform all sorts of thinking tasks.
This is great news! We can have a positive impact on our brain as we age! In addition, the harder we work our brain, the more it benefits. If you wish to create your own brain workout program, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Do new things. That which is new is typically more difficult and thus a better workout for the brain. Take a new route home, learn to play a musical instrument, or learn a foreign language.
- Do things that are mentally difficult. The more mentally challenging the activity, the better. Play chess rather than tic-tac-toe.
- Do things with other people. Social stimulation is important for mental health. Attend lectures with friends or join a book group.
- Make it fun. If it is drudgery, it won’t be sustainable. If you find something you like, that continues to be mentally challenging, stick with it!
If you take exercising your brain seriously, you may reap the benefits for many years to come!
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Zane Robertson. Zane Robertson is the President of Active Minds®, a Denver based provider of educational programs for seniors and adults. He is a frequent speaker on lifelong learning and senior education and has served on the Denver Commission on Aging and the board of the Denver Coalition for Seniors. Active Minds programs are available in most Denver senior residential communities as well as a variety of public venues. For more information, contact Mr. Robertson at 303‑320‑7652 or visit www.activeminds.com.
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