Keeping your mind active is an important measure you can take to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regularly engaging in mentally-stimulating activities can reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70%. There are plenty of ways to keep your brain agile and these exercises can easily be incorporated into your daily routine.
1. Give Your Brain a Mental Workout with Crossword Puzzles and Other Brain Games
Once you’ve read the day’s headlines in the newspaper, turn to the crossword section and treat your brain to some mental stimulation. Sudoku, a popular numbers puzzle that requires you to complete a 9×9 grid so that each column, row, and all nine 3×3 subgrids contain the digits from 1 to 9, is another way to work out your brain. If you’re the competitive type, challenge a friend or your partner to a timed Sudoku play-off! You can purchase paper Sudoku books and crossword puzzle books or a simple Internet search will direct you to plenty of free crossword puzzles and sudoku games.
2. Integrate Mental Exercises into Your Physical Workout
Remember when you played hopscotch as a kid? You were working out your body AND your brain at the same time. The same goes for those complicated skipping games you used to play with your friends. The good news is there are plenty of ways to work your mind and body out at the same time without showing your kids up on the playground (though this is always an option!).
Aerobic exercises that incorporate coordinated moves, such as Zumba, step aerobics and aqua fitness classes, are a great option for those with the mobility to partake in these activities. Ballroom dancing also engages both the body and brain. Balancing exercises also force our brain to correlate information from our eyes, our inner ear (where the balance organs are located) and our muscles/joints. Simply standing on one foot, for example, engages both your brain and your muscles.
3. Let Your Creative Spirit Shine
Give your inner artist, writer, or musician the chance to shine. Harvard Health Publishing suggests experimenting with creative pursuits that require both manual dexterity and mental engagement, such as sketching, painting or crafting. If traditional arts and crafts aren’t up your alley, why not try your hand at a new musical instrument or put pen to paper and craft a story from your imagination.
4. Embrace the New and Unexpected
Just like your body, your brain will stagnate if you don’t exercise it or you keep doing the same things over and over. Your brain thrives on the new and unexpected, so take the opportunity to enrol in a class and learn a new skill or give that board game you got for your birthday a try!
These are just a few suggestions of how to give your brain a mental workout.