Seniors need to exercise their brains to keep them functioning at optimal levels. This is true for all of us, but is even more critical as we age.
Our minds are like our other muscles and need to be stretched regularly to maintain their fitness and to help keep us sharp.
We now know that our brains continue to grow new cells throughout our lifetimes, even in our older years. Activities that increase blood flow to the brain, such as physical activity, mental stimulation and good nutrition will help exercise our brains which in turn enhances our brains.
Studies indicate mental stimulation can help generate new brain cells. These cells can further enhance overall function by migrating to areas where new cells are necessary and learning from the surrounding cells what skills are required. This is especially true when there has been an injury such as stroke or other brain injury for renewal of lost skills. We can also improve our overall cognition and brain fitness by helping our brain cells that are now inactive become active. Getting oxygen and nutrients to our inactive brain cells will improve their function.
Exercise for Our Brains
The most effective way to exercise our brains is through cognitive training. It should be stimulating, challenging and fun! However, they need to be deliberate activities that we do and not just everyday routines.
- New experiences that inspire new thoughts and create new memories.
- Alternate routine exercises such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles so your brain doesn’t get lazy! The key is to keep challenging creation of new pathways not rely on routine.
- Learn a musical instrument.
- Read a new book. Join a book club and discuss your favorite plots.
- Learn a foreign language. Find new places in town or out to visit. Include museums and learn about the exhibits.
- Try new foods or cooking styles and get cooking!
- Take dance lessons and learn some new steps.
- Incorporate a word of the day into your life, use it in a sentence and share it with others.
- Get connected with online family, friends, and new people.
- Play a game. It can be a board game, card game, or brain fitness game. Play with different groups of people who will stimulate new conversation.
Just as it is important to exercise our bodies and feed it well with nutritious foods, it is important to exercise and keep our brains fit. Helping your senior loved ones add some of these activities to their day can be great gift ideas too. Together you can exercise your brains while having family fun!