Eight Activities to Keep Your Brain Sharp
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Contrary to popular belief, your mind does not have to slow down as you get older. Instead, you can keep your brain functioning at its highest level just by keeping it in shape, just as your muscles improve when you work them out.
Experts agree that physical exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your mind strong.
"Working out" your brain is only slightly different from working out the rest of your body. If anything, it's easier because such a wide array of activities is beneficial.
If you are interested in keeping your brain sharp, no matter what your age, here are the key activities to indulge in.
Physical activity does not just benefit your waist size. It also produces beneficial changes in your brain, including:
Encouraging the growth of new cells by increasing oxygen flow to your brain
Boosting growth factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps new nerve cells to survive
Increasing neurotransmitters in your brain that play a role in cognition
"I would absolutely recommend people exercise for the mental benefits -- especially the elderly," says Henriette van Praag, a staff scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in a Los Angeles Times article. "People don't care about whether they're a size 4 or a size 6 as they get older. But they do care where their car keys are and whether they'll have the ability to play their card games and enjoy life."
Getting together with friends at book club, for a game of cards, start a helath wellness group, join and donate your knowledge at a non-profit giving your brain healthy challenges.
2. Challenge Your Mind
As the saying goes, "Use it or lose it." It's thought that some of the forgetfulness and loss of mental acuity that comes along with aging is caused, at least in part, by non-use.
In fact, another study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that seniors who participated in mentally challenging activities about once a week for a 20-year period reduced the risk of dementia by 7 percent. Those who engaged in these activities more often reduced their risk even more -- by 63 percent!
To keep your mind on its toes, try out a new hobby that will get you thinking, such as:
Daily watch Jeopardy and guess along with contestants
Learning how to play a musical instrument
Playing Sudoku crossword puzzles, cards or board games
Learning a foreign language
Revealed secret by the second highest Jeopardy winner James Holzhauer divulged his "biggest secret... studying subjects couldn't get into was checking the children's section, because the pictures and fun facts made getting the basics easier." This is one of the 22 formulas we utilize to write our articles for you, written at entertaining grades school level to be quickly understandable plus memorable.
Below see some fun Brain - Tease - Exercises
3. Eat Healthy Meals and Snacks
What you eat has a direct impact on your brain function, and if you've ever indulged in a mid-afternoon junk-food binge, then felt like your head was stuck in a fog for the rest of the day, you understand what we're saying. The best foods for your brain include:
Antioxidants from fruits and veggies. One study by researchers at the University of California at Irvine found that beagles fed a high-antioxidant died had improved cognitive skills. And, rats fed strawberries and blueberries have been shown to enjoy improved coordination, concentration and short-term memory.
Fish. Coldwater fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that have been found to be very important for brain function (just be careful to eat this in moderation due to potential contamination with mercury).
Meanwhile, you definitely want to avoid trans fats for your brain health. These dangerous fats have been linked to a host of mental problems, including dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism.
When Your Brain Needs to Relax:
Quiet Your Mind With Guided Meditation
Fall asleep faster, easier and longer without drugs. Try guided meditation with soothing music. On example with free trial.
4. Listen to Some Music
A study published in the journal Heart & Lung found that people who listen to music while they exercised performed more than twice as well on a verbal fluency test than people who listened to no music. The test was designed to challenge the part of the brain that deals with planning and abstract thought.
5. Have a Drink?
While too much alcohol can cause you serious health problems, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that one-half to one drink a day may be beneficial for your brain.
In fact, in the study of over 12,000 elderly women, those who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol daily had a 20 percent lower risk of having problems with their mental abilities later in life than women who did not drink at all.
6. Take Dance Lessons
The New England Journal of Medicine landmark study found that seniors who danced three to four times a week had a 75% lower risk of dementia (especially ballroom dancing) "Dancing is a complex activity," said Joe Verghese, MD, chief of geriatrics at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City study lead author. "It's aerobic so it improves blood flow to the brain which has been shown to improve brain connections. It also provides mental challenges." The study reportedly enrolled people without dementia and followed them over long periods of time.
7. Sleep Enough
During sleep, your mental energy is restored. Don't get enough of it and important skills like planning, problem solving, learning, concentration, memory and alertness will all become more difficult. Further, the less sleep you get, the worse off you'll be.
"If you have been awake for 21 hours straight, your abilities are equivalent to someone who is legally drunk," says Sean Drummond from the University of California, San Diego in New Scientist.
However, just a few nights of not enough sleep can produce similar effects.
Get a handle on your stress. Stress is the number-one cause of sleep problems, according to sleep expert Dr. Patrick Porter. Guided meditation, exercise, yoga, prayer, journaling, deep breathing and healthy eating can all help you keep your stress levels under control.
8. Meditate and/or Pray
Meditation and prayer have been found to produce both short-term and permanent changes in the brain. In fact, researchers at Harvard, Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that meditation increases brain size and may help slow some aspects of cognitive aging.
Some Very Fun Exercises for Your Brain ...
With an Amazing Little Test at the End
You've read this far, so you already know that keeping your brain in shape is important ... the following visual exercises, including the final amazing little test, can make it fun!
a) What do you see spelled out here?
In black you can read the word "GOOD," but in white the word "EVIL" (inside each black letter is a white letter). If you believe the absence of good is evil you will see some obvious symbolism here.
b) Now, what do you see here?
You may not see it at first, but the white spaces read the word "OPTICAL," while the blue landscape reads the word "ILLUSION."
c) And how about this one?
This one is a bit trickier ... the word "Teach" reflects as the word "Learn."
d) And here's another ... what do you see spelled out here?
You probably read the word "Me" in brown, but ... if you look through "Me" you will see "You"!
e) Now that you've had some warm-up practice with illusions, here's your big test ... Count every "F" in the following text:
FINISHED FILES ARE THE RE
SULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTI
FIC STUDY COMBINED WITH
THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS ...
How many letter F's did you count? Move your mouse over the box below for the correct answer ...
There are SIX (6) letter F's ... no joke! Go back and read it very slowly to try to find the six letter F's before you read on ...
The reason you likely counted less than six F's is because the brain typically does not process the word "OF" that is repeated several times in the text!
If you DID count six the first time you took this test, you may be a genius!
Even counting four is rare.
If you counted three times, that is normal.
Email this page to your friends to test and entertain them, too ...
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The New England Journal of Medicine January 20, 2005 Volume 352:245-253
Health.com How to Age-Proof Your Brain
mathnexus.www.edu "Good vs Evil"
Harvard University Gazette