5 Ways to Stay Sharp

Research has shown that the more we use our intelligence and imagination, the more likely we are to stay sharp as we age.  In the same way that we must lift weights to build muscle, we must consistently use our brain to keep it strong.

Here are 5 tips that will help you keep your brain healthy and active.

  1. Puzzles– Doing puzzles such as crossword and jigsaw puzzles may keep your memory and thinking skills sharp as well as help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  If you want to keep your brain active, turn off the television and try a crossword puzzle.  Jigsaw puzzles are also a great way to spend time with friends and family.  Start with easier puzzles and then gradually increase the level of difficulty.  The Internet is a great resource for locating all kinds of free brainteasers and crossword puzzles.
  2. Learn a new language or take up an instrument – Hobbies and interests are a great way to stay active.  If you are planning to take a trip abroad, try and learn basic conversational language.  If you always dreamed of becoming a concert pianist, it’s never too late!  Even if you never become fluent or you don’t perform at Carnegie Hall, these activities keep your brain young.
  3. Exercise – Keep your brain functioning at its best by incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise into your routine on a regular basis.  Not only does exercise help your brain’s performance, but it also can help ward off quite a few diseases. Adults who exercise moderately show increased functioning in activities like planning, scheduling and task coordination.  Combining strength training with cardiovascular activity shows even greater results. So get moving!
  4. Use both sides of the brain – The brain is divided into 2 sections: the left brain and the right brain.  The left brain deals with language, numbers and reasoning.  The right brain deals with music, art and the imagination.  Engage in both kinds of activities to give your brain a complete workout.  If you’re really looking for a challenge, try using your non-dominant hand for routine activities like brushing your teeth, writing or even getting dressed.  Although these exercises may seem silly, they keep your brain hard at work.
  5. Describing – Describing things to others is a great way to improve your visual memory.  Keep an eye out for a good story to tell each day.  The act of describing or telling a story builds your attention and memory skills.  It’s also a great opportunity to connect with others.

Unfortunately you can’t change your genetics, but you do have control over how you live your life.  The bottom line is to keep mentally and physically active if you want to experience the best quality of life.