How many times have you walked into a room only to have forgotten why you were there? Do you misplace your keys frequently? It happens to all of us, and while we may have to accept that as we age our minds may not be as sharp as they once were, there are things you can do to boost your brain power and maximize your memory.
Here are five tips for sharpening your memory:
- Sit down with your children or grandchildren and play a video game! You’re never too old to learn to play and they just might be good for your brain power. Playing multi-player video games or online role playing games have been proven to boost cognitive function according to a study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Because video games involve the use of several different mental abilities including hand-eye coordination, problem solving, reaction time and simply paying attention, your brain gets a workout while you play.
- Spend time in mindful meditation. Researchers from UCLA discovered that individuals who meditated had more (physical gray matter) brain power than those who didn’t. The reason for this could be that even though our brains shrink as we age, meditation may slow the shrinking process. Take time, several times a day to quietly contemplate and relax.
- Get up and move and even lift some weights! While you don’t want to start an exercise routine without first clearing it with your physician, it’s been shown in Alzheimer’s studies that individuals who lifted weights and increased their muscle strength were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Also, the simple act of being active stimulates your synapses and keeps you more alert. Being physically active can also help prevent the risk of trip and fall accidents as your joints, muscles and bones are strengthened through use and activity.
- Lose weight and pick up healthy habits. Everyone knows the risks of smoking and health but it’s also been found that heavy smokers were at a higher risk (70%) of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Eating healthy and exercising as a way to ward off obesity may also prevent the onset of heart disease, diabetes or myriad other weight-related issues. Ask your doctor for advice on healthy meal planning as well as how best to get started on exercising. Start off slow with a walk around the neighborhood and work your way up to more strenuous activity. Don’t forget that yardwork and gardening are also great ways to be active!
- Don’t stress the “small stuff.” As we age, it takes us longer to complete tasks than it used to, but that is no reason to stress. It’s a proven fact that as we age we have slower response times and it may take us longer to make decisions; it doesn’t necessarily mean we have slower mental processes, it may simply mean we are taking longer to make a conscious choice. Trust your instincts.
Being physically fit and staying mentally active are worthy goals for anyone of any age, but these become even more important as we age. What steps are you taking toward better mental and physical health?