Forgot where you left the car keys? Can’t remember your mailman’s name? Don’t worry, Practicing good health habits and exercising your mind can protect your brain-and probably reduce the amount of mental decline, or push it back later into life.
Here’s How to Challenge Your Mind
Give Yourself A Mental Workout
Pennsylvania State University found that participating in 10 sessions of cognitive exercises designed to boost reasoning skills, memory and mental processing speed staved-off cognitive decline in older adults over a five-year period.
You also can challenge your mind at home with activities such as crossword puzzles, math games, and Sudoku and by reading material that takes you out of your mental comfort zone (Old English literature, anyone?). It also helps to learn a new skill, whether it’s a foreign language, a musical instrument or a computer program.
Aerobic exercise boosts the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which enhances mental performance. It releases endorphins, which are hormones responsible for mind relaxation. In addition, it increases metabolism, which automatically controls your weight.
Maintain Snooze Control
Sleep is crucial for brain function: “It helps with encoding new information, and it’s important for efficiency in retrieving information from memory,” McEvoy explains. That’s why it’s essential to carve out ample time for shut-eye and to take steps to enhance the quality of your slumber. How?
- Exercise during the day
- Eat early enough so that dinner is digested by the time you turn in
- Avoid caffeine after lunch
- Get sun exposure around midday to keep your body’s sleep-wake clock in sync
Eat A Brain-Boosting Diet
When talking about dementia and warding off vegetables and fruits are the best foods to have because they have lots of rich antioxidants, nutrients that help our brain to protect from free radicals.
Consuming small amounts of alcohol, particularly antioxidant-rich red wine, also can help protect against dementia and other forms of cognitive loss, McEvoy notes.
Get the Upper Hand On Stress
In animals, researchers have found that an increase in production of cortisol [a stress hormone] shrinks the memory centers in the brain.
Find some form of long-term relaxation technique. Whatever helps you stave off stress to minimize the over-production of cortisol. Just remember that these stress-relieving methods have to be just as chronic as the stress itself to have a real impact.
Keep your mind actively full day, and you’ll stay sharp in the years ahead.