6 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp

AdobeStock_208851607-300x212Use it or lose is the old adage, and it applies to your brain as well as your body. In this post, we’re going to give you a long list of things you can do to use your brain and keep it healthy.

Consider the alternative – succumbing to Alzheimer’s. This may sound draconian, but here are the harsh realities:

  • In 2020, Alzheimer’s affected 5.8 million people – that’s one in every 10 people age 65 and older
  • By 2050, unless there’s a cure or other medical interventions, that number will reach 18 million!

Happily, we may be able to do something about it.

A study cited in the Wall Street Journal article, “Our Amazingly Plastic Brains,” says it’s not a foregone conclusion that you’ll get Alzheimer’s, even if you have a genetic predisposition towards getting it. “Environmental factors interact with…genetic makeup to eventually allow or deny dementia a foothold,” according to the article.

The environmental factors we can control are:

  1. How well we take care of our overall health, and
  1. How much and how often we keep our brains stimulated.

Just as our bodies benefit when we push them by exercising regularly, our brains respond positively when we break the routine and challenge them. “It turns out that our brains, like our bodies in general, are far more likely to waste away from underuse than to wear down from overuse,” according to article.

So what are some ways we can deny giving Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia a foothold?

Here’s a list of things you can do to keep your brain sharp as you age, compiled from Harvard, Everyday Health, Prevention and others:

  1. Keep your numbers under control
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood pressure
  1. Adopt Good Health Habits
  • Stay (or get) physically active
  • Eat a nutritious diet – vegetables, fish, avoid saturated fats
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink excessively
  1. Learn new skillsAdobeStock_97938605-1-300x200
  • Painting
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Learning a foreign language
  1. Play challenging games
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Math puzzles
  • Mah Jongg
  • Sudoku
  1. Increase social interaction
  1. Manage stress
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Take a nap
  • Keep your thoughts happy
  • Get regular sleep
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Take breaks during the day
  • Express feelings and don’t bottle them up
  • Balance work and leisure time

Start small and build from there. We may not like getting old, but it beats the alternative, and wouldn’t you prefer to be one of the folks people refer to as “sharp as a tack?”

So what are you waiting for? Get out your chessboard, take up Yoga, or adopt a pet.

Your brain will thank you.

Related Posts:

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New Skills Equals Sharper Brain: 6 Ideas for Online Learning
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The Joy of Audio Books – Take Back the Pleasure of Reading
Positive Aging: Why It Matters and Where to Start

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