How to Keep Your Noodle Engaged

October 20, 2014
Brain exercises can be good for the mind -- and the body!

Brain exercises can be good for the mind — and the body!

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5 million Americans are coping with Alzheimer’s Disease.  And, research continues to suggest that the more brain exercises we do every day, the more likely we are to maintain cognitive abilities.

In the October/November 2014 issue of Neurology Now, Amy Paturel, MS, MPH, outlines some easy steps that seniors can follow to help keep their minds sharp and engaged while enjoying stimulating activities.   Paturel’s article,  “Staying Sharp:  What You Do During Your Free Time Could Help Save Your Brain” offers practical suggestions that are good ideas for all ages.

1.  Learn a second language

Learning a new language helps your brain make new connections and lay down new pathways; creating new pathways may be key to building cognitive reserve

2.  Become a social butterfly

Studies continue to show that socially active seniors are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease than more introverted seniors.  Additionally, researchers find that when someone feels good about their social networks, they tend to make healthier choices in other areas of their life.

And, experts recommend that joining an organization that caters to multiple generations may be better than the local senior center.  Developing friendships beyond your own generation is considered a bonus.

3.  Play music

The act of reading and decoding music in order to play an instrument can be a boosting brain exercise.

And, if you have trouble finding your words — consider singing what you have to say.

4.  Move it

Jog, cycle, swim, walk, dance…just move it for better blood flow to the brain.

The Alzheimer’s Association and other research groups are recommending that following a heart-healthy lifestyle benefits your brain, as well.

What’s Good for Your Heart is Good for Your Brain:

  • Don’t smoke

  • Sleep 7-8 hours a night.

  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.

  • Eat a low-fat, healthy diet.

  • Get plenty of exercise.

  • Maintain healthy weight.

  • Limit alcohol consumption.

  • Get blood sugar levels under control.

Ideally, we should engage our brain every day throughout our lives.  But, as Paturel points out, it’s never too late to begin exercising our brain!

Reference:  Neurology Now (October/November 2014) “Staying Sharp:  What you do during your free time could help save your brain”

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