Staying Mentally Sharp Takes Brain Work
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Research is increasingly showing that aging doesn't automatically result in a steady erosion of brain cells. Rather, older adults who work their brains can develop new connections between brain cells.One such way to do that is to exercise the brain, or give the brain a "mental workout".
A brain workout - using the mind in a wide variety of new and challenging ways - can activate cells throughout the brain and actually slow or even reverse mental decline. The Mayo Clinic suggests these ways to stimulate the mind:
Working the right brain - Music, art and using the imagination are considered right-brain activities. Options to stimulate this side include reviving a musical talent, singing in a choir, knitting, quilting or taking art classes.
- Working the left brain - Language, number and reasoning
activities are often considered left-brain activities. Reading,
writing, learning a new language, completing number or work games,
balancing a checkbook without a calculator and fixing broken objects
are left-brain activities.
Remembering or memorization - Brain-building ideas include memorizing the words to a poem, people's names, or phone numbers.
Trying meditation - Studies have shown that meditation activates the parts of the brain associated with happiness and contentment and reduces stress and anxiety. This effect can occur even in those new to meditation, and grows more robust with practice.
Engaging in social activity - Social engagement has been linked in many studies to the reduction of mental decline.Engaging in conversation or activity with a wide variety of people - family, friends or even strangers - can be one of the most complex and varied tasks that the mind undertakes.
- Breaking a routine - Long-familiar daily routines can become so
ingrained that little thought is required. When one breaks up routines,
meets a new person, learns a skill or takes a different route to the
store, the brain is engaged.