Exercise your mind
Keep your mind active and reduce the effects of aging on the brain: learn new things, be curious, enjoy music/plays/lectures, cook new recipes, play games and puzzles. Without new challenges, brain tissue will atrophy in exactly the same way as muscles when we don’t exercise.
The brain’s ability to withstand neurological damage, memory loss and other signs of aging diminishes over time, making it more difficult to perform cognitive tasks. But just as exercise can build muscle in the body, performing targeted brain exercises on a regular basis can improve brain function and counteract the effects of aging. Challenging the brain allows new connections to be created and maintained, and this in turn preserves brain plasticity – the capacity for physical and functional change.
Improving brain health
Good nutrition and regular exercise is known to promote the health of brain tissue, but avoiding boredom is thought to be critical. The brain has an innate desire to learn and researchers have found that engaging in repetitive or unchallenging behaviour like watching TV allows the brain to become passive, which in turn, increases atrophy of the brain tissue and could eventually contribute to dementia.
There are many strategies to enhance brain capacity; including playing games, reading unfamiliar material, visiting new places, and learning new skills like a foreign language or a musical instrument. With regular practice you may notice a big difference in your memory but as with any exercise, start small and work your way up. You can find some great ideas in this article
Brain training apps
Brain-training apps, like Lumosity or Elevate, are used by millions of people worldwide; although a 2014 review found the evidence for the benefits of these games was variable. Some studies saw improvements in working memory and processing speed in young people, others found the group with the greatest improvement in cognitive performance was healthy seniors. Unsupervised ‘at-home’ training was not found to be effective and there was no benefit in brain training more than 3 times per week. Some studies also suggest that good sleep, regular exercise and socialising with friends is just as useful at improving cognitive function as these apps.
For best results, experts recommend any form of brain training that involves real-world activities. Exercises to strengthen brain function should be both novel and challenging, and simple to include in your daily routine such as taking a different route to work or brushing your teeth with your opposite hand.