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Stimulate Your Mind with Brain Exercises
- Use it or lose it!

Everyone knows that physical exercise is important to keep the body healthy and strong. Did you know that your brain also benefits from exercise, too? Keeping your brain active and alert is a must as you transition into older adulthood.

Even as we age, our brains are constantly growing with new neurons forming. Stimulating the brain improves its function and can protect against cognitive decline.

Although brain exercises aren’t going to prevent the severe mental decline that is caused by disease, most of the common age-related losses in memory or motor skills simply result from inactivity and a lack of mental exercise and stimulation. These sorts of memory lapses can be caused by stress and sleep deprivation and aren’t a cause for concern. However, you can take simple steps to prevent them.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, adults who frequently engage in mentally stimulating activities are 63% less likely to develop dementia than those who rarely engage in such activities are. A University of Michigan study has also found that adults who play a mentally challenging game every day for several weeks could dramatically improves their memories.

Brain exercises don’t take much time to accomplish and are fun to do. Take a few minutes out of your day and make these brain games part of your routine!

Give Your Senses a Daily Workout:

Use your mental power to perform a few of these everyday tasks. Get dressed or wash your hair with your eyes closed. Share a meal with someone without talking. Only use only visual cues to communicate. No talking.

Combine two senses:
• Listen to music and smell flowers
• Listen to the rain and tap your fingers
• Watch clouds and play with modeling clay at the same time

Play Games:

Enjoy yourself and challenge your mind at the same time. Complete the crossword puzzle or sudoku in the daily newspaper. Dollar stores are a good source to find inexpensive word-find and puzzle books. Play a game of solitaire with a deck of cards or on the computer.

Many websites also offer free games to play on the computer or on cell phones. Make use of the time spent waiting in a doctor’s office useful by playing games to stimulate your brain.

Break Routines:

Flex your mental muscle by breaking a routine. Drive to work or church using a different route. Try eating with the opposite hand. Shop at a different grocery store. All of these activities will force you to think differently.

New experiences:

Older adults can also stimulate their brains by trying something new. Local community or senior centers offer low cost classes. You can enrich your brain by taking up dancing or art courses. Enjoy new experiences in far-off—or nearby—locales! Visit new places and spaces like museums, restaurants, or even new cities.

Make brain exercises part of your routine for healthy living!

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News