Exercise Your Aging Brain

You know it’s important to keep your body physically fit — use it or lose it as the saying goes. The same applies to your brain. But is there an exercise program to keep you mentally fit? Sure there is.

Exercising Your Brain

There is a host of mentally stimulating brain games to keep your mind limber. These are not marketing ploys. A study by the National Institute on Aging indicates mental exercises help the aging brain to focus, increase attention span, memory, and language skills.

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How do you keep your mind young? The aging process brings a lot of changes to your body. You start to get wrinkles, more likely than not gain weight, and your muscles lose their strength. Yet, perhaps the most disturbing thing about aging is that your mind starts to slow down too. While people used to just take this as a consequence of getting older, today we don’t have to accept mental decline as inevitable because there are many things you can do to keep your mind young.

Of course, the major building block to a healthy brain is diet. In order to keep your brain in top shape, a diet rich in antioxidants is necessary to fight off the damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants will also help increase blood flow to the brain and help the body make more acetylcholine which is an important neurotransmitter that aids in mental function.

Aside from diet, we also need to exercise our brains to keep them quick and flexible. Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. In other words, as we learn and acquire skills, the brain changes in response to those experiences.

Games Exercise Your Brain

You can improve the plasticity of your brain by doing enjoyable mental activities — playing games in other words. Mental games that require memory, quick reaction time, problem-solving, and spatial reasoning will help improve your memory and your attention span.

It has been shown that stress can be a major contributor to mental decline and one of the best ways to reduce stress is physical exercise. Surprisingly, physical exercise is also good for the brain. A study done in 2002 by Carl Cotman and Nicole Bertchtold showed physical exercise triggers production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is connected to the brain’s ability to grow and adapt.

If you feel yourself beginning to slow down mentally, don’t accept it as par for the course. What was normal and acceptable a generation ago is, in many cases, completely avoidable today. A brain-healthy lifestyle includes social engagement, physical exercise, a good diet, and most importantly lots of mentally stimulating games.

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  1. I usually play chess or sudoku so I can sharpen my brain. It gives me an edge and it helps me focus more.

  2. I have a grandad that is 98 and he’s very active. Always painting and reading! That’s the key to staying vibrant is being active

  3. I remember a couple of years ago when brain training games were all the rage, it’s a shame that these no longer excise in a big way otherwise I’d get some for my mom

  4. Tiffany La Forge-Grau says:

    Keeping your brain sharp is very important for your overall health. This is an awesome idea to keep it warm!

  5. Matt Taylor says:

    Very cool information! If we don’t use it, we lose it! But we don’t have to wait until we are older to start exercising our brains.

  6. agree! this is very important and we need to train it! I want to learn and practice foreign languages!

  7. Very true! This reminds me of a class, one day, where my lecturer actually taught me the brain can never be exercised enough. That struck me differently.

  8. many people are too focused on having a healthy body, yet forget to stimulate their brains. thnak you for sharing this post. serves as reminder to everyone. <3

  9. Meditation is one of the most powerful brain booster. Also fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils are source of healthy brain.

  10. there are some really great mental stimulating games on the ipad i like. luminosity i believe is the one i like best.

  11. I love that so much. It’s important to take care of our brains, especially as we age. They need more and more stimulation to keep them sharp.

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