Mental Fitness by Ken Hunt
I know that all of you are dedicated to physical fitness. But mental fitness is just as important. Especially as we age. What can you do to achieve good mental fitness? Here are some thoughts and suggestions on how to keep your grey matter agile and strong.
Research suggests that certain types of mental exercises — whether they are memory games on your mobile device or jotting down letters backward — might help our brains maintain concentration, memory and visual and spatial skills over the years.
Makers of computer brain games, in fact, are tapping into a market of consumers who have turned gym memberships to maintain their bodies and now worry that aging might take its toll on their mental muscle as well.
But tweaking everyday routines can help.
For example, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Or crossing your arms opposite from the way that you’re used to.
Flip the pictures in your homes upside-down. It might baffle houseguests, but the exercise pushes the brain out of familiar grooves cut deep by years of mindless habit.
Every time you walk past and look, your brain has to rotate that image
It’s all about shaking things up mentally and getting out of the ruts that we build up over time.
Try this for a start ;name as many red foods as possible. Apple? Sure that’s an easy one. Eventually you will get around to pomegranate and pimento.
We used to think that what you’re born with is what you have through life. But now we understand that the brain is a lot more plastic and flexible than we ever appreciated,
Still, like the rest of your body, aging takes its toll.
Challenging the brain stimulates neural pathways . It boosts the brain’s chemistry and connectivity, refueling the entire engine.
Consider the neurons of your brain like electrical wires and the white matter like the insulation. When the insulation breaks down over time, things can misfire.
Those who engaged in mentally challenging games do, in fact, show improvement in cognitive functioning. They get faster at speed games and stronger in memory games, for example. What’s less clear is whether this improvement transfers to everyday tasks, like remembering where you parked the car.
But when it comes to the link between physical exercise and the brain, researchers and clinicians agree: Physical exercise is good for the brain; it has also been linked to lower rates of chronic disease. Good nutrition is essential also.
Diet, exercise and mental maneuvers all may boost brain health in ways science still doesn’t understand. In the best cases, the right mix might stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s and other age-related disease too.
Reading a book, engaging with friends or going out for a walk and paying attention to what’s around you — that’s not really about goofing off. Rather, it’s critical time that stimulates neural pathways and boosts the odds of longtime brain health.
Keeping your brain agile needn’t take a lot of time, money or even a crossword puzzle. Here are some fun, quick challenges
— Switch it up: Use your non dominant hand to drive your computer mouse or brush your teeth. Slip your watch on the opposite wrist. Turn it upside down.
— Refocus senses: Turn off the TV volume and follow the action by the visuals only, or keep the volume on and close your eyes to imagine what’s going on.
— Fine-tuning senses: As a passenger in a car on a familiar route, close your eyes and follow the route in your mind. Open your eyes periodically to see if you are right.
— Turn the page: Read a book upside down.
— Trash talk: Avoid the word “the” for a two-minute conversation challenge. Partners keep count of each other’s “the’s” while trying not to say any of their own.
— Grab your sneakers and a friend: A good walk is not only aerobic exercise, chatting with friends — discussing a recent book, for example — can stimulate new ways of thinking.
— Join the club: Visiting friends, volunteer work and other social connections may protect against cognitive decline over the long run.
— Get your zzzz’s: Sleep deprivation blunts memory and executive functioning. A power nap — no more than 20 minutes — can help too.
— Toss the tobacco, limit alcohol: Research has linked smoking to a quicker loss of memory as we age; likewise, drinks should be limited to one a day for women and two for men.
Play!: Research suggests that online games involving problem-solving, speed and memory might sharpen cognitive prowess.