Brain and body health are both equally important to our equilibrium.
Just as weight workouts add lean muscle to your body and help you retain more muscle in your later years, researchers now believe that following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing regular, targeted brain exercises can also increase your brain's cognitive reserve.
10 Healthy Brain Exercises:
Your morning newspaper is a great place to start. "Simple games like Sudoku and word games are good, as well as comic strips where you find things that are different from one picture to the next," says John E. Morley, MD, director of St. Louis University's Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of The Science of Staying Young. In addition to word games, Dr. Morley recommends the following exercises to sharpen your mental skills:
Test your recall. Make a list — of grocery items, things to do, or anything else that comes to mind — and memorize it. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.
Let the music play. Learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. Studies show that learning something new and complex over a longer period of time is ideal for the aging mind.
Do math in your head. Figure out problems without the aid of pencil, paper, or computer; you can make this more difficult — and athletic — by walking at the same time.
Take a cooking class. Learn how to cook a new cuisine. Cooking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain.
Learn a foreign language. The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain. What’s more, a rich vocabulary has been linked to a reduced risk for cognitive decline.
Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try and think of any other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.
Draw a map from memory. After returning home from visiting a new place, try to draw a map of the area; repeat this exercise each time you visit a new location.
Challenge your taste buds. When eating, try to identify individual ingredients in your meal, including subtle herbs and spices.
Refine your hand-eye abilities. Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, assembling a puzzle, etc.
Learn a new sport. Start doing an athletic exercise that utilizes both mind and body, such as yoga, golf, or tennis.
Practice healthy habits and grow your brain! Flex those brain muscles!