What to Do Now to Keep Your Brain Healthy As You Age
Aging happens to all of us, and as we continue to go through the natural transitions of life, our brains and mental function continue to change as well. Mental decline is one of the most common concerns associated with getting older, but the good news is that it’s not inevitable; there are several ways to maintain your mental agility and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive impairment. Below are four things you can do now to keep your brain healthy as you age.
- Give your brain a workout on a consistent basis.
Mental stimulation is one of the key factors involved in keeping your mind sharp. Basic activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles or engaging in arts and crafts can do wonders for stimulating new neural connections and building up your brain. For a more robust level of mental engagement, try figuring out various brain teasers, solving puzzles or riddles, playing memory games or other mental exercises that can be found on websites such as BrainHQ, Braingle or SharpBrains.
If you really want to take your mental workout to the next level, round up some friends or family members and go on an escape room experience. In this real-life problem-solving adventure, participants are locked inside of a themed room and then challenged to look for clues, solve riddles and employ critical thinking skills in order to escape the room within a 60-minute time frame. The premier “escape the room” Cincinnati venue is Houdini’s Room Escape, which offers three different escape rooms that will not only provide a thrilling challenge that will stimulate your mind, but will also give you an exhilarating boost of adrenaline as well!
- Get regular physical exercise.
When you exercise, new nerve cells are developed and new connections between brain cells (i.e., synapses) are formed, keeping your mind healthy and robust. Not only that, but elevating your heart rate during exercise will carry more oxygen-rich blood to your brain, which aids your cognitive faculties and reduces mental stress. You don’t have to go all-out to get good exercise, either–just 20 minutes on an elliptical trainer three to five times a week will do wonders towards keeping your brain and heart healthier.
- Watch your blood sugar.
Out-of-control sugar intake can increase the risk of diabetes, which is one of the primary risk factors for dementia. By limiting the amount of sugar in your diet (along with exercising regularly), you’ll be taking the necessary steps to fight off age-related mental decline.
- Keep an eye on your cholesterol.
Multiple studies have revealed a significant link between high levels of LDL (i.e., “bad”) cholesterol and an increased risk of dementia. Adjusting your diet to minimize foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, saturated fats, trans fats, and/or shortening will help keep LDL cholesterol at bay, and when you combine that with regular exercise, you will improve your overall cholesterol levels, which aids in healthy cognitive function.
You don’t have to resign yourself to the idea that your mind will deteriorate as you grow older. Put the above suggestions into action to encourage strong brain health and keep your mind sharp throughout your later years.