Forget Common Core! It’s hard enough to keep our brains sharp enough to remember where our keys are. Women are on brain overload all the time and we too easily fall into daily repetitive tasks and routines that do nothing to challenge our brains. We need to remember to actually exercise our brains to keep them fit and young. Experts say that taking a few steps can keep our cognitive functions as sharp as possible and even boosting memory and brainpower.
Here are 6 easy ways you can boost brain power, fight memory loss and challenge yourself:
1. Do a puzzle or learn a new game
Whether you try a classic 500 piece picture puzzle on your dining room table (have the whole family chip in!) or solve puzzles on paper, your iPad or phone – they can all stimulate and challenge your brain. Try crosswords, Sudoku or video games like Brain Age. You get an initial “age” and can aim for a younger age or better scores. Other activities that help keep your brain sharp include learning new board games, taking up a new instrument, learning a new language or even taking a new dance class. They can all be great challenges for our brains and as a bonus they often bring us joy in the new skill acquired.
It’s true! Daily activity that gets the blood pumping helps fuel every cell and pump oxygen rich blood to your brain. All cardiovascular exercises help your heart’s health and your brain’s as well. The more oxygen and glucose in the brain, the better it can perform.
3. Have an “opposite” day
Kids like this one too. We are such creatures of habit so it can be a real challenge to make small changes. If you normally eat or brush your hair with your right hand, try your left. Put your eye make up on in a different order. Try switching the morning routine around. Try cleaning the house with your opposite non dominant hand. Wear your watch on the opposite wrist. The options are endless.
4. Your brain … on food
Eat fat and stay young! Our bodies need fat, but the low-fat trend has continued and does nothing to help feed and fuel your brain. Consuming good fats such as avocado, olives, nuts, omega rich fish (or even fish oils) and coconut have been shown to lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s (and they have many other health benefits too). Some studies also showed that limiting simple sugars and refined carbs to less than 80 grams per day (and keeping fasting blood sugar levels in check) can keep memory loss away.
5. Get enough sleep
Most adults need a solid 7 hours each night to boost concentration, memory and cognitive processes. Any less and you’re asking for a fuzzy brain. Some studies have shown naps can be effective too, but the best thing is to get solid sleep at night, going to bed and waking at a very similar time each day.
When you zen out, or zone out, your brain can rid itself of some of that internal stress and information overload. Sometimes we get so anxious, our brains just can’t seem to remember new information. Try taking 10 minutes or more of complete quiet time or meditating. Or relax with a yoga practice that focuses on breathing and turning inward to lower stress. Take a quiet and definitely electronic-free walk in nature.
Exercising our brains is an important as exercises our bodies as we age. Taking some more time off from the glaring screens we stare at all day and being still is a great chance to rebalance and reboot. There are many other ways to work toward better brain health as we age from keeping large social networks to laughing. Just don’t neglect it!