Guest post submitted by Teresa Greenhill.
If you don’t use the muscles throughout your body, they weaken and atrophy. Exercise, on the other hand, builds strength and tone. Most people don’t realize that the same is true for your brain: if you don’t use it, the connections that have developed over the years fade, weakening cognition. That’s why scientists have been focusing more attention on the power of brain games, puzzles, and other activities to prevent cognitive decline and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are just a few fun activities for challenging your mind and promoting brain health.
Brain Training Games
Thanks to growing awareness of the potential for brain exercises to prevent cognitive decline, there’s been an uptick in the number of apps and websites offering a variety of mind-bending challenges to help you do just that. Download an app like Lumosity or Clevermind to keep yourself entertained on the way to work or to pass time in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, and you’ll reap the benefits of brain training, too.
Crossword and Number Puzzles
Some people enjoy sitting down to complete the crossword puzzles in the daily newspaper. If you don’t subscribe to your local paper, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a good crossword puzzle or Sudoku challenge without purchasing a subscription. USA Today and The Washington Post are just two of the newspapers that make their daily crosswords accessible online.
Logic and Math Puzzles
Remember the brain teasers you used to enjoy figuring out when you were younger? Sites like BrainBashers and BrainDen can make these types of brain-benders a part of your daily routine. From logic and math puzzles to paradoxes, Einstein’s puzzle, and special daily puzzles to keep your interest piqued, there are plenty of challenging ways to keep your brain engaged at sites like these.
There’s nothing like the tried-and-true game of Solitaire to pass the time on a dull afternoon. But did you know that card games can be beneficial exercises for your brain? In fact, card games have been found to have all kinds of positive effects on mental health, including everything from depression, addiction to memory. Games like Poker and Bridge are especially useful for enhancing short-term memory. Start a weekly poker night with a group of friends and take advantage of the benefits of socialization, too.
Unlike number challenges and logic puzzles, there’s no definitive correct answer when it comes to making art. But that’s precisely why art is so beneficial for creative thinking; it allows you the freedom to explore the vast creative recesses of your mind and turn your innermost thoughts into something beautiful. And, who knows, you might just create something so amazing that you’ll display it proudly on your living room wall.
Learn Something New And Share What You Know
The truth is that there are tons of activities that can help to keep your brain healthy and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The key is to keep learning throughout life. That can mean anything from taking up a new hobby (like knitting or gardening) to signing up for a course at your local community college, or even online.
Research also shows that staying socially active helps our cognitive health. So, in addition to soaking up information, feel free to dole it out. Working as a tutor or volunteering for a local nonprofit are great ways to engage your brain while also getting a boost from doing something beneficial for your community.
Keeping your brain healthy as you age is about keeping your brain active and engaged. From socializing with friends to solving challenging brain teasers, enjoying a friendly (or competitive) game of poker or solving the daily crossword puzzle in the local newspaper, there’s no excuse for not flexing your brain every day with so many options at your disposal.