We are often told by physicians, the media, and those around us the importance of regular exercise for the improvement of our physical bodies. It is no secret that our bodies change as we age, and that regular exercise can prevent numerous conditions. Along with physical changes, our bodies go through mental changes the older we get. One of the most common reported changes is forgetfulness. The question is, can we prevent adverse changes in our cognitive abilities? The answer is yes, we can prevent these cognitive changes! But how?
Along with regular exercise of the body, we can also exercise our mind. Think of your brain as a muscle in any other part of your body; if you do not exercise it, then it can atrophy.
The following are some tips on how to exercise your brain:
(1) Engage in regular physical exercise.
Although we are talking about how to improve your mental wellbeing, working on our physical wellbeing actually improves our cognitive abilities. According to Timemagazine, regular exercise can decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
(2) Practice your memory retention.
Test your ability to recall certain events that occur throughout the day. Keep a journal and write in it at the end of the day.
(3) Learn something new.
Take a class on a foreign topic, learn a new language, or improve on something. The goal is to challenge yourself and improve your knowledge.
(4) Join a community group.
Whether it is a church group or any other gathered group, join a community where you can meet new people and participate in activities frequently with them. Regular interaction with others in your community is great for mental wellbeing.
(5) Partake in mind-stimulating activities.
Puzzles, crosswords, solitaire, and any other activity that work to exercise your brain. These activities require a deeper level of thought.
(6) Keep reading.
Whether it is for entertainment or obtaining knowledge, reading is a mind- stimulating activity. Try reading news stories, and not just watching TV to stay up to date on current events. If you want to take it a step further, read an older novel. Analyze what you’re reading for the message the author is trying to tell and how they are portraying that message.
(7) Avoid overusing technology.
In this day and age, technology is changing constantly and becoming more integrated into our daily lives. Watching television is not a mind-stimulating activity. Try setting a time limit each day on your use of technology – this may include television, smart phones, tablet usage, etc.
These tips are just examples of ways to stimulate your mind, but they are not the only ways that you can exercise your brain. Any mind-stimulating activity requires you to work out your brain. Try doing at least one of these activities daily. Overall, surrounding yourself with people and partaking in activities is the best way to prevent adverse cognitive decline. If you lead and live an active lifestyle, then you are stimulating your mind. It is just as important to exercise your mind as it as important to exercise your body.
– Godman, H. (2018). Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
– Melone, L. (2015). 10 Brain Exercises that Boost the Memory. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/longevity/mental-fitness/brain-exercises-for-memory.aspx
– Sifferlin, A. (2017). What Type of Exercise Is Best for the Brain? Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://time.com/4841790/exercise-brain/
Written by: Kirsi Binder
Kirsi Bindner is a nursing student at Boise State University. She has experience working as a certified nurse assistant in memory care and long-term care. She also has worked with the pediatric population, which she hopes to continue working with as a nurse after graduation. Kirsi is passionate about promoting preventative care measures when it comes to healthy aging. She will be graduating May of 2020 with her Bachelor of Science in nursing.
For additional information about the BSU nursing program: CLICK HERE.