Refine Your Mind
As people age, the stereotype reigns that their minds begin to slip. However, this doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. Keeping your mind healthy as you age is one of the most important ways to keep living the most fulfilling way possible. Just like any other part of the body, the brain needs exercise and conditioning to work properly. There are plenty of proven ways to keep your mind sharp, and it doesn’t have to be as grueling as a workout at the gym. Here are four of the best ways to keep all cylinders firing as they should as you age.
Hand-eye coordination is typically an underutilized way to wake up the brain. This is because most people see these actions as only helping the body — keeping the hands and limbs dextrous. However, the tie between mind and body is one of the best ways to keep synapses firing correctly. Playing an instrument or painting pairs problem solving brain function with bodily dexterity and makes use of more brain power than day to day activities. Note, this benefit is not lost to those who never picked up an instrument or a paintbrush. Video games, especially interactive games like tennis or bowling, have similar effects on the brain because they involve hand-eye coordination in similar ways.
Frequent socializing helps maintain the brain’s ability to judge and analyze situations. In holding conversations, the brain must navigate both what the other party is saying and how to respond effectively to continue dialogue. Additionally, humans are social creatures, so building social connections reduces stress levels. The social nature of humans is probably why spending time with people you care for releases hormones like serotonin. Serotonin leads to feelings of happiness and wellbeing which, in turn, help to cement certain memories into the brain and increases recall memory, or the mental process of retrieving past information. Another way to increase serotonin levels naturally is by gardening and spending time outdoors as the human brain is naturally attuned to enjoy fresh air.
If blood flow to the feet is impaired, walking becomes problematic. The same is true for any part of the body: proper blood flow ensures proper bodily functioning. The brain needs an influx of good, oxygenated blood to function at its highest level. The most obvious way to make that happen is through exercise. However, kickboxing does have to be the focus. Anything from yoga to tai chi to a light walk can help increase blood flow to the brain. The point of exercise, especially as you get older is to not overexert yourself. That can actually do more harm than good. Taking a simple twenty minute walk can actually be more helpful than an intense workout for older people because the injury is a far less likely possibility.
Whether it’s a crossword, a sudoku, card games, a brain game like Lumosity on a cell phone, or any other number of puzzles, puzzles are a great way to keep the mind sharp. They hone the problem solving abilities, word association, and recall memory. Everyone knows the feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue and not being able to come up with it. Word puzzles help lessen the frequency of that phenomenon. Other puzzles, like sudoku and memory puzzles, help more generally with memory and thought associations. Another way to increase the mind’s capacity for thought association is through cooking. Since all the ingredients and timing can be difficult to maneuver, the process makes your brain work harder to connect the dots.
Any and all of these activities can help keep brain function high. By making this a priority, you can ensure that, at least mentally, age won’t slow you down.