Staying Brain Sharp

Like so many others, seniors, too, are concerned about the girth of their waist and the condition of their muscle tone.  However, keeping our minds in shape is also critical to enjoying our lives at the highest level.  So, it’s important to give our brains the attention they deserve.

Here are some strategies to help us keep our brains healthy, active, and in great shape.

  1. Exercise regularly.   About 30% of our brain’s volume is composed of blood vessels.  It’s important to keep our blood moving!  Exercise will get our blood flowing and help to control our blood sugar.  High blood sugar is harmful to blood vessels.  That’s why so many diabetics die of heart disease or stroke at a relatively young age.

2. Read every day.  Reading activates large portions of our brains.  It’s not easy to transform symbols into words and meaning.  Spend some time every day with a book that makes us think.  We might learn something useful, too.

Avoid reading the same type of books on a regular basis.  Read well-written articles.  Read the classics.  Try a new historical novel.  How about a book on theoretical physics?  Or not!  Reading the sports page every day doesn't count.  Sorry.  The same goes for romance novels by your favorite author.  Mix it up.

 3. Eat well.  A healthy diet will help preserve our brain function.  Do a little research on the best diet for longevity and attempt to make a few changes to your eating habits. A few, small changes each month will go a long way toward keeping your brain healthy.

4. Meditate.   Meditation is powerful for several reasons. We’ll learn to focus like a Tibetan monk. We’ll also learn how to relax. Both are wonderful for our brain. Meditation is hard work. It’s like a decathlon for our minds.  Find a good teacher nearby and meditate in a group.  We’ll make some new friends, too.

5. Challenge yourself.  Learn something new.  Learning to paint, speak a new language, or dance are a few great examples.  Learning something new will force our brains to create new neural pathways.  Our brain’s ability to change is referred to as its “elasticity.”

At first, this can be very challenging.  If we’ve been living the same way every day for several years, learning something new is similar to going jogging for the first time.  It’s painful, and we don’t get too far.  Be patient and give our brains a chance to wake up.

 6. Do something that requires a lot of brainpower.   It might be something like solving a cryptogram or writing a computer program.  Take a multivariate calculus class.  Study chess.  Push our brains to the maximum.

7. Remember the past.  As we grow older, it’s more challenging to remember facts from the past.  When we can’t remember something, avoid giving up.   Take all the time we need to remember.  We might finally remember the name of the high-school English teacher while we’re mowing the grass.  Keep at it.

8. Get out and socialize. Spending too much time alone has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing dementia. Have an active social life and spend more time with others. We’ll enjoy our life more, too. 

There are many benefits to keeping our minds in tip-top condition. We’ll enjoy better mental health and preserve our mental faculties longer. Keeping our minds healthy requires attention. Challenge ourselves to learn new information and skills. Our brain is highly elastic. Give it a chance to use that ability.

So, what do you think?  Have you tried any of these suggestions?  How have they helped you?  Please let us know!

Please share your thoughts and any response you may have in the form below.

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