How to help keep your brain sharp as you age

As we age, our brains keep growing. Each day, we learn something new and are able to do something we weren’t able to understand yesterday. When we are young, everything is new and our brains are growing at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, after graduation, many people don’t have the opportunity to keep learning. Without daily challenges, there is no reason for the brain to function as efficiently as it needed to in youth. Therefore, after you hit the forty-year mark it becomes that much more important to find something that motivates you intellectually.

Luckily, it’s never too late to get your brain back in shape. Even if it has been a while since you challenged yourself, there’s still time to reverse any decline in function. The brain is amazingly resilient and all you need to do to counteract degeneration and get back on track is provide your brain with some challenging stimulus. Have a look at the eight ideas below and get started on your brain workout right now.

Join a club

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Staying social is one of the easiest (and most fun) ways to keep your brain active. Meeting new people is especially helpful because everyone has a different and more specific body of knowledge waiting to be shared, so the more people you know, the more you will learn. For bonus brain power points, join a club that challenges you, such as a chess, language, or art club.

Move your body

Although any kind of exercise is great for your brain because it helps blood flow, you should keep a few things in mind when you are moving your body. For example, turn off your music and really think about the way your body feels, concentrate on your movements and what is around you instead of tuning out. Also, make sure you spend five minutes focusing on a different body part each day. For example, you can try moving your left wrist in new ways, focusing on each unique movement.

Focus on the details

Colourful wigged mannequins in a window

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Next time you are out for a walk, really take a good look around. Not only does the mind thrive on concentration, it also loves a good surprise. When you are out and about, you are bound to see something unusual or surprising, which will give the brain a quick jolt of energy. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal when you are focusing in because you never know what kind of details a flower, familiar face, or your favourite café will have in store for you.

Shake things up

A toothbrush in hand

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Fighting your instincts and changing your usual surroundings are a great way to stimulate your brain. Try flipping picture frames upside down, which will alert the brain that something strange is happening, causing it to work harder. Or use your wrong hand on a few daily tasks, such as brushing your teeth or doing the dishes to challenge your physical coordination and increase your concentration and make you more alert.

Stimulate your senses

Coffee pods

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Daily routine often means you will wake up to the sound of an alarm, smell the same shampoo, drink a cup of coffee, and choose your clothes based on sight. Making slight changes to your routine and alternating your use of each sensation can help activate the brain first thing in the morning. Instead of using an alarm, try waking up with a sunlight simulation lamp. Try choosing your outfit with your eyes closed relying only on your sense of touch. When it’s time to make your coffee, try adding some vanilla bean or cinnamon to the pot to change up the taste and smell of your morning.

Try something new

Japanese dishes

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This is one of the most effective ways to stimulate your brain activity. Brains thrive on change, so introducing new skills, activities, and sensations will cause your brain to go into overdrive and enhance general function. This can be as simple as taking a different route to work, trying a new food, or visiting someplace new. However, you can also kick things up a notch by learning a new language, playing a new sport, or taking a class. You can also take up a new hobby that challenges your sight, motor skills, and way of looking at the world—such as photography.

Listen to music

White headphones

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Research has shown that listening to music can improve cognitive function, mental focus, and memory recall. However, that doesn’t mean you should just pop on your favourite songs and sing along. Be bold and strike out on a new musical path. Trying new forms of music will make your brain rethink how you feel about music and force you to try harder to understand rhythms and lyrics. You might even find yourself enjoying a genre of music you previously thought was terrible. The brain is full of surprises.

Play mind games

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Basically anything that challenges your brain can be considered a mind game. Board games, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, learning a new instrument, painting a picture, studying a new subject, or even surfing the web can all get your thought process flowing. There are also many challenging video games and apps available that are fun to use, but also help with cognition, problem-solving skills, and reaction time. For bonus brain power points, try a different mind game each day to challenge your mind and keep things fresh.

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