It’s not uncommon to have the odd ‘senior moment’. Even people in their teenage years will have an occasional memory lapse or failure to comprehend something simple. For most, this only gets more common as we get older. The brain is a muscle and like your biceps need regular workouts in the gym, your mind requires something similar. Here are 5 ways to keep your brain active as you get older.
Exercise Your Body
Your mind and body work in tangent. One suffers with the other so be sure to keep your body as active as possible, particularly as you get older. Doctors recommend 45 minutes of good physical activity every single day but that doesn’t have to mean busting a lung on a rowing machine. Use variation in your exercise by walking, running, swimming, and playing a wide variety of sports.
Physical exercise has been scientifically proven to help your brain remain active. Dr Aron Buchman, a professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago conducted one such study. Over 450 participants had memory and thinking tests every year for two decades. Dr Buchman and his team found that participants who were the most active physically had better thinking and memory skills than those who did not.
“Together, these suggest that a more active lifestyle, including physical, cognitive and social activities, may help maintain cognition in older adults,” Buchman said of his study.
Eat a Healthy & Varied Diet
Following on from physical exercise, a healthy and well-balanced diet is just as important to your mental capacity. It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to realize that most people just feel a lot better after eating a healthy diet for a while than one subsisting of fatty foods and drinks. Cutting out things like alcohol can have a huge positive effect.
There are a lot of different definitions of a healthy diet but one particular approach to eating seems to come out on top. A study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences found that the so-called Mediterranean diet has protective benefits against neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. This diet emphasizes the daily consumption of healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and studies have shown its positive impact on the mind and body.
Play Games That Require Decision-Making & Memory
As we get older, our short-term memory and ability to make decisions both need to be used regularly. There are dozens of specially-designed games aimed at training just these attributes for older players. Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training was a smash hit several years ago but now, many of these types of titles are available for nothing online at sites like Free Brain Age Games.
But it’s not just about the specially-designed games. There are plenty of other titles and platforms which can help keep your brain sharp and ensure you’ll have fun doing it. Online blackjack can help you train these skills, as can popular puzzle games like Playdead’s ‘Inside’ which is available on a whole host of different platforms.
Socialize Whenever Possible
This is something behavioural which is often lost as we get older: we just don’t spend enough time with friends. Socialising is vital to mental welfare, especially as we get older. One study published in Scientific Reports in 2018 found that regular engagement in social activities led to a lower likelihood of diseases like dementia.
There are now plenty of ways to encourage this. Connect with former friends on Facebook or even go one step further and actively search for childhood buddies on a site such as School Mates.
Just Keep Learning
Above all, the best way to see off a mental slump in old age is just to keep learning. Now, adult education is easier than ever before with free courses and classes available on sites like Future Learn. Pick up where you left off on a favourite subject from your youth or dip your toe into a whole new field with free online courses. Why not try out a new instrument?
If you prefer something in person, there are plenty of options available at local colleges and schools across the world. Night classes are available for more serious learners or you could try picking up a new skill or hobby. A cookery course in a foreign cuisine would be a good start, as a group of older gentlemen have been finding out in the UK. It will keep your brain active and who knows, you may even get a delicious new recipe out of it too.
Couple Walking – pixabay creative commons
Man playing chess – Good Free Photos – Public Domain
Cooking Class – Ubud Writers & Readers on flickr – Some Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
Daniel Jenkins is a UK-based freelance writer with an interest in people, technology, sports, news, politics, and film. He’s written for a wide variety of publications across the world.