We all know that mental functions decline as we age. However, cognitive decline need not be an inevitable aspect of getting older in Forest Hills, Manhattan or Staten Island. Below, we discuss six ways to keep our aging brains active.
1. Mental Stimulation
Research shows that mental activity stimulates new connections between nerve cells. It may also help generate new brain cells and guard against cell deterioration. In short, keeping the mind active is one way to retain cognitive function as we age. Mentally-stimulating activities include:
- Solving crossword puzzles.
- Learning a new skill.
2. Physical Activity
Exercising is another way to keep our brains active. This is because physical movement stimulates blood vessels and directs oxygen-rich blood to the brain region responsible for conscious thought. Exercising also generates the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between synapses. As a result, our brains work more efficiently.
Exercise is definitely one way to keep our aging brains active. It also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, balances blood sugar, and reduces mental stress.
3. Socializing With Friends
In 2007, Kaiser Permanente researcher Valerie Crooks published the results of a four-year study involving 2,200 women. Cooks found that women who enjoyed daily social contact had a considerably lower risk of developing dementia.
Meanwhile, Robert Wilson studied a group of 80-year-old patients at Rush University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. He found that lonely people had a higher likelihood of developing dementia. Both studies show that building social connections can be an effective means of keeping our aging brains healthy.
4. Writing For Pleasure
An additional way to get mental stimulation is to write. The act of writing improves our cognitive performance. Certainly, writing need not be an ordeal. You can begin by jotting down your thoughts in a daily journal. If you feel a little adventurous, you can try writing poetry or even a short story. The key is to write consistently.
5. Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is a vital part of maintaining your brain’s health as you age. A study performed by the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore showed that the less older adults slept, the faster their brains aged. In other words, getting enough sleep helps preserve brain function.
University of Exeter psychologist Dr. Nicolas Dumay found that adequate sleep almost doubles our memory recall abilities. So, getting enough shuteye is one way to keep our aging brains active.
6. Eating a Balanced Diet
Good nutrition may also improve brain health. For example, foods with antioxidants can neutralize harmful free radicals. You can get these antioxidants by eating fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and spices.
Some researchers even advise a traditional Mediterranean diet high in olive oil, fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. On such a diet, you will eat moderate amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy, plus small portions of red meat, processed foods, and desserts. This diet also strongly emphasizes plant-based foods and healthy fats from oily fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
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