6 Ways to Stay Mentally Sharp As You Age
We’re all getting older, does that mean our brains need to show signs of aging, as well as our bodies?
Candy Hart, of TriHealth Seniority, says there are everyday health habits that can help slow or reverse an aging brain.
“It’s all about maintaining and building new neural pathways, the roads in our brains that carry information,” Candy says. “Keeping those pathways elastic and creating new brain cells can help improve brain function at every age, and there are lots of ways to do that.”
Try Candy’s tips to stay mentally sharp:
Tip #1: Learn Something New
Whether it’s playing an instrument or diving into a new foreign language, learning something new and working outside your comfort zone involves many different areas of the brain. Candy says even something as simple as trying a new driving route while you’re out running errands will help forge new neural pathways.
Tip #2: Use Your Hands
"Eye-hand coordination is both visual and tactile, and will fill the brain with activity,” Candy explains. Something as simple as throwing a ball or using your non-dominant hand can build brain power. Even better, try sign language: You’ll get the benefit of learning a new language, and combining that with the hand motions used in sign language, exercises even more – and different – areas of the brain.
Tip #3: See Something New
Get out of your normal routine and experience something new, like an art exhibit. But, Candy says don’t just attend and then forget about it. “It’s even better when you write it all down when you get home – what you did and what you learned,” she points out. “Then, talk about it with family and friends.”
Tip #4: Memorize
This can be as simple as memorizing a new word, or lyrics to a song, every day. Write the lyrics down if you have to, then sing along. That careful listening will sharpen thinking.
Tip #5: Eat Antioxidants
Foods like blueberries and dark chocolate contain antioxidants, which scavenge free radicals, the cause for age-related human diseases. Bonus: foods high in antioxidants may also delay or prevent cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. They can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Tip #6: Move
Activity pumps up brain function and has been shown to increase the number of brain cells in the hippocampus. Fifteen to 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, will lessen the chance of developing Alzheimer’s.