Having the occasional mind slip-up like forgetting where you placed your keys or recall a word can happen at any age. But cognitive decline such as consistently struggling to remember monthly bills or stay focused in conversations is not a natural part of getting older, according to the National Institute on Aging. The truth is, your mind, like your physical body, is always capable of change for better or for worse. And the degree and nature of that change has less to do with age and more to do with action. What many people do not realize is that, just like your body, the performance of your mind improves with proper and consistent training. Likewise, when not given enough stimulus, your brain becomes less capable of reaching optimal levels and more susceptible to decline. You can train your mind for enhanced sharpness and help safeguard it from degeneration in the future. Here are some science-proven strategies you can start using today to build a stronger brain that will serve you well into your golden years.
Move Your Body
When it comes to training your brain, your body is an essential part of the formula. Exercise is one of the most important things anyone can do to improve brain function and fight off disease. Using the sugars in your blood to fuel your muscles instead of sitting idle helps prevent dramatic glucose and insulin fluctuations that increase the risk for dementia. Exercise also helps lower inflammation and that is critical in preventing dementia. Other brain-health benefits exercise provides include releasing mood-boosting chemicals and decreasing stress hormone production. Exercise also stimulates the release of growth factors involved in the healthy function and production of all cells, including brain cells. Now you don’t have to become a marathon runner or power lifter to reap these benefits. Doing any type of physical activity that gets your body moving for a just a few minutes a day will boost brain health as well as your overall wellness.
Stretch Your Mind
The adage “use it or lose it” applies to both our body and brain. Keeping your brain sharp means keeping it actively engaged. Research shows that the quality of brain engagement matters for building brain resiliency over the long term. This means engaging in activities that require reasoning, problem-solving and acquiring knowledge. Consider things like learning a new language, starting a new hobby, or reading a book that’s outside your scope of expertise. You also might want to try online brain games that involve speed training. Unlike puzzles that only help with working memory, speed-processing games have been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Rest Your Body and Brain
Sleep is not just a time of rest but an essential restoration proc