The American Association of Retired Persons has a wonderful section on their website called the “Brain Health Center”. It includes brain games and exercises that keep you mentally challenged.
Why would one of the leading organizations focused on individuals over 50 preach brain training exercises as a way to keep your mind sharp?
Because they understand that research unequivocally proves a direct connection between consistent mental challenges and brain health.
The old adage that if you don’t use it, you lose it applies here. Especially as you age past your 50s, consistently “working out” your mind is extremely important.
Research around the world shows that your working memory and common thought processes can become deficient at a much more rapid rate if you do not consistently challenge your brain.
Don’t worry, this is easy to do. A quick web search for the term “brain training exercises” turns up more than 3 million results, so the information is out there.
You can also purchase brainteasers and mind enhancing courses and books at retail outlets online.
But starting this very minute, you can fight cognitive decline without conducting a web search or purchasing anything.
The crossword and Sudoku puzzles in your local newspaper are excellent for challenging your mind and keeping your brain working.
Pushing yourself into any area that is just outside your comfort zone has also been proven to stimulate brain wave activity.
Take up a new hobby. Read a book or article published in a niche or genre that is outside your area of expertise.
Learn a new language. Sign up for some classes at your local university.
You can even improve your mind simply by giving into your natural tendency to herd by engaging in consistent social activities.
The key is to constantly push and pull your mind in different directions. Remember, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
So use as much of your mind as possible, by frequently challenging and testing it in a number of ways. We mentioned socializing as a great way to promote mental health, so let’s give that topic a little closer look.
Become Social and Stay Alert
Oscar Ybarra holds a PhD and is an Associate Psychology Professor at the University of Michigan. He explains that the frontal lobe in your brain really gets “fired up” when you socialize.
This is the part of your brain linked to decision-making, how you respond to events and circumstances, and planning.
Incredibly, as you age, socialization can actually build “a reservoir of brain function you can draw from if and when other areas of your brain begin to decline.”
That research was reported by the website Prevention.com, which is geared towards health and wellness.
But do you really need any research to prove how mentally sharp and clear socializing can make you?
Think back to the last time you enjoyed a family reunion, lunch out with your friends or simply sitting on a park bench and interacting with whoever passed by. Your mental processing and clarity got a boost, didn’t they?
That is because engaging in social activities promotes the release of feel-good hormones and endorphins in your brain.
Your memory is improved, and the speed at which you perceive things is positively affected. This results from the fact that being around other people is a natural human desire.
And when you continue to stay social into your 60s and beyond, your social activity challenges you to be aware.
You must interact and respond to stimulus that makes your brain work a little harder than if you were just sitting on your couch watching television.
“So get up and out in society. Strike up a conversation with the first person you meet. Talk to your mailman or your neighbor.”
Attend a weekly book club, play chess in the park or act as a mentor to a younger person. Socialization stimulates your brain and keeps your mind sharp, so re-enter society today.
You have a lot to offer, and a lot to benefit from.