Life-interfering memory loss doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older. The same healthy lifestyle habits that you use to take care of your heart, bones and lungs also work for keeping your brain strong and healthy. Here are six things you can start doing at any age to keep your brain and memory vibrant.
- Aerobic exercise – As little as 20 minutes a day of aerobic exercise can make an impact on keeping your brain sharp. There are many reasons exercise is good for your brain. It increases blood flow and can reverse shrinkage to the hippocampus. Exercise also helps reduce risk for illnesses that can lead to memory loss, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and stroke. There is also a link to obesity and brain deterioration. If you would like to read more about the intricacies of these findings check out this Psychology Today article “Ten Ways to Slow Mental Decline with Age“.
- Brain exercise –According to the Harvard Medical School “Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them.” Activities such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, chess, and even crafts and reading, can help with mild cognitive impairment. Experts also believe that learning a new skill, such as a foreign language or musical instrument, can be even better for your brain.
- Social Engagement – Being socially active strengthens synapses in your brain and slows down memory loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Social engagement, whether that means talking with friends, working on a team or being active online, forces you to stay engaged mentally.
- Healthy Diet – There are real links between eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, and improved brain functioning. Eating foods that are good for you and avoiding saturated and trans-fats keeps cholesterol levels in check. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables can also be beneficial because many are good sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants have been proven to protect your body against diseases and age-related deterioration by blocking free radicals that contribute to cell aging.
- A Good Night’s Sleep – Sleep is very restorative not only for your body but for your mind as well. Adequate amounts of sleep can boost your brain’s ability to learn and remember things. On the contrary, not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on your memory. “Lack of sleep impairs a person’s ability to focus and learn efficiently” says a WebMD article. “Sleep is necessary to consolidate a memory (make it stick) so that it can be recalled in the future”.
- Work At It – As you age you have to work harder to remember, focus and pay attention. A lot of this just comes down to organization and practice. You can preserve your brain power for new and important information by filtering out nuances like where you left your keys. Use calendars, lists and designated places in your home to help with this. Repetition of names, and other important things you want to remember is a good tool also. Minimize distraction and try not to do too many things at one time.
For some effective memory tricks put together by experts to help strengthen your brain check out this Readers Digest Article.
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