Like your body, your brain gets old. Over time, neurons in your brain shrivel and die, so your brain loses size and weight. As a result, thought processes slow, senses dull, and, eventually, age-related mental disorders develop, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
However, as with the aging of your body, there are ways you can delay the aging of your brain. Just as being sedentary negatively impacts your heart and bones, failing to use your brain effectively allows it to slip into decline sooner. The key to a young, healthy brain is activity ― but not all activity is equal. There are plenty of misconceptions regarding how to keep the brain active, but this guide should set your mind straight.
First, the Truth About Crosswords
One of the most pervasive pieces of advice is that to prevent age-related mental decline, you should make a habit of doing crossword puzzles. It makes sense: Crosswords require memory, manual dexterity, and other skills that start to disappear with age. However, the studies that attempt to demonstrate the advantages of crosswords are only observational ― they lack hard data as support.
The problem, most neurologists argue, is that crosswords are essentially a single activity, and as most people recognize, performing one exercise over and over again doesn’t do much to keep you fit. Therefore, crosswords may help your brain stay healthy and young ― as long as you are working out your brain in other ways, as well.
Better Ways to Keep Your Brain Young
Fortunately, thanks to a vast improvement in medical tech, researchers these days have a better understanding of how brains age. Therefore, modern studies have yielded more conclusive advice on how to keep your brain feeling young and fresh.
Of primary importance is your physical health: The stronger your body, the better equipped you are to train your brain. Therefore, you should make wholesome food and moderate exercise a priority every day. Any workout that gets your heart pumping will help your brain function, and exercises that incorporate coordination, like dance classes, are even more powerful at improving your brain’s health.
Next, you should try to maintain a busy social life. Loneliness is a significant predictor of ill-health, both physical and mental, so having friends and enjoying their company frequently is vital to keeping your wits. You can try setting a firm time every week to socialize, or you can join a group ― like a book club or bowling league ― that will get you talking and laughing.
Finally, brain-training tricks can improve how you think and feel as you age. Besides crosswords, here are a few stimulating activities to keep your neurons young:
Monitoring your mood might not sound taxing, but choosing to be positive when you are feeling down requires a surprising amount of mental fortitude. Additionally, it never hurts to develop a
happier state of mind.
Starting a collection requires research, socializing, and diligent organization, giving your brain plenty of exercise. Plus, being a collector can be fascinating, like when you find an uncommon 1926 silver dollar. You tend to become more cognizant when you collect things and it awakens your desire to learn more. There is plenty of history to be told when collecting things such as uncommon coins which can inspire creativity to keep your brain healthy and active.
Spelling and Math
Performing spelling exercises isn’t for aspiring spelling bee champions. Spelling forces you to imagine the word, engaging various language-related regions of the brain.
Practicing mental math sounds pointless now that calculators are everywhere, but adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing (or performing more complex functions if you’re up to it) is a strenuous mental workout.
Crafting is a broad hobby, encompassing everything from woodworking and model-building to embroidery and painting. Using your hands to be creative improves manual and mental dexterity, but you might want to consult your doctor before you take up a craft that might agitate any arthritis.
Puzzle With Your Puzzler
Solving puzzles is, in fact, an excellent brain-training exercise, but you must make sure you aren’t completing the same easy crossword every day. Instead, you can switch it up with Sudoku puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word scrambles, and any other brainteasers from puzzlemasters.
Try Something New
Challenging your senses by trying new foods, visiting new locations, listening to new music, and finding other exciting and unknown experiences forces your brain to analyze your situation, keeping it active and young.