Like any muscle, you need to work out your brain or it'll start to perform poorly. Naturally, aging can be rough on the body and brain, so it's important to build healthy habits - whether you're 25 or 75. Keep a sharp mind by incorporating some of these brain-fueling activities into your everyday routine.
How to Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age
People of all ages, mobilities, and education levels can work on keeping their minds sharp as the years pass. Don't think of it like work; think of it like stretching a muscle. If you want to touch your toes, you're going to have to work a little bit every day to get there, and these quick activities will exercise your brain in the best way possible.
Research shows that simple things like staying healthy (eating right and getting physical activity), continuing to learn new things, interacting with others, and engaging in activities that stimulate your brain are all ways to keep your mind strong and sharp through the years. Here are a few ideas that make it easy to work these things into your daily life.
Work on Some Puzzles In-Between Bites
You used to be able to find books of crosswords and word searches in baskets beside every person's toilet, but today, the physical copies aren't nearly as popular as the digital ones. Whether you prefer to stick with pen and paper or love clicking an app open, stretching your memory and cognition is a perfect way to exercise your brain.
Now, doing a daily Sudoku isn't going to fully prevent Alzheimer's, but it will make sure your brain processes the world around it quickly. And adding these into your routine is super simple. You can do a new page during your lunch break or start your day with the latest The New York Times' mini crossword.
Take a Quick Language Break
An exciting way to exercise your brain is learning a new language. Language learning can be daunting, especially if you're starting late in life. But the beauty of doing quick language lessons is that you don't have to become fluent. There's no wrong way to practice a new language. If you stick to reviewing a little simple vocab every week, that's a fabulous use of your time that can stretch your mind.
Don't set goals and expectations for yourself that (if you don't meet them) will stop you from trying. Instead, work at your own pace in languages you're interested in. And apps like Duolingo and Babbel are great ways to get started.
Set a Consistent and Healthy Sleep Schedule
Of the fundamental parts of your health, sleep is undoubtedly the most overlooked one. It doesn't help that from the time we're young, getting to 'stay up late' feels like a reward and burning the midnight oil studying or working gets celebrated. Yet, making sure you get enough sleep every night is vital to keeping your brain working in tip-top shape.
How many hours you need a night is different for every person, so if you're feeling fatigued, depressed, struggling with your metabolism, and more, consider getting a few extra hours.
Spend 30 Minutes Chatting With Family or Friends
Fascinatingly, socializing with people has real-life health consequences. According to Harvard Medical School, "scientists have found that people with strong social ties are less likely to experience cognitive decline than people who spend most of their time alone." With phone calls and FaceTime just a few clicks away, you should be able to get a little socializing into your daily routine. This is also perfect for people with mobility or health issues who can't socialize outside of their home.
Of course, you should supplement this with real-life connections when you can, but making sure that you check in with others a few times a week will really help keep your mind sharp.
Visit New Places That Tingle the Senses
Using critical thinking skills only stretches one part of the brain. Challenge other areas by stimulating your senses with new environments. This doesn't have to involve elaborate trips out of the country. It can be trying a new dish, visiting a historic site, listening to an open mic night, or taking a ceramics class. At the end of the day, we're animals too and for us to be performing at our best, we need some enrichment in our enclosures.
Staying Sharp-Minded Is Easier Than Ever
We have more access to research about preventing mental aging than in any decade prior, and because of it, there are so many tools at our disposal to help keep our minds sharp. Your body might age, but your mind doesn't have to, and these short activities will keep your brain as quick as it was decades ago.