ExerciseIt's important to stay active as we age not only to keep our bodies strong but our minds healthy. Exercise is related to improved mental function as those who do it regularly tend to have more brain volume and white matter. This is likely due to the fact that getting your heart rate up increases blood flow throughout the body, including the brain. Better blood circulation and oxygen intake means that the brain is getting the nutrients it needs to encourage the development of new nerve cells. Whether you join an aerobics class or simply start walking the dog in the evenings, you can reduce the risk of cognitive decline just by getting off the couch and moving.
PlayWhen you were younger, the continuous mental activities required of school or work may have been enough to keep your mind in shape. With retirement comes leisure and even though the mental break may be nice, it shouldn't turn into a permanent vacation. But don't worry you don't have to go back to sitting at a desk, there are plenty of ways you can keep your brain sharp that are more play than work. Engage in some brain boosting activities like word games, such as crossword puzzles or soduku, which stimulate the brain's temporal lobes as they challenge verbal language ability. Picking up a hobby like knitting or woodwork will not only be an enjoyable way to spend your free time, but will help to increase mental alertness as it involves active thinking. Also, it's never too late to learn something new and by participating in an educational class at your local community college or community center you can help to challenge your brain and keep it agile.