Use it or Lose it! How to Keep Your Mind and Memory Sharp
Everyone knows that the best way to keep our body and muscles in shape is to commit some of our time to working out at a gym or, at least taking part in some physical activity. What few realize is that our brain is also a muscle that needs to be worked out and kept in shape as well. Keeping our brains fit not only requires a healthy lifestyle with plenty of physical activity, but also some non-physical mental lifting to help keep our memory from faltering as we age.
Of all the muscles in our body, the brain is quite possibly the most important – without it, our bodies and our minds will cease to function altogether. While the benefits we receive for keeping our brains fit are numerous, working regularly to keep our minds sharp also helps to stave off debilitating mental diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Perhaps more importantly in the short term, having a routine that regularly works out your brain can also make you happier at work and at home, and chances are you will start seeing the world from a fresher and more positive perspective as a result.
Ways to Keep Your Mind and Memory Sharp
The mind becomes more susceptible to various diseases and ailments that affect the brain when one fails to exercise it properly over time. Like the way we work out muscles throughout our body to stay in shape, keeping our brains fit with regular physical and mental exercise keeps the blood flowing, thereby increasing oxygen supply to the brain. This keeps our minds healthy and energetic, as well as being a wonderful preventative measure against the onset of debilitating mental diseases.
An article by Medical News Today states that a study done by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley has proven there is a direct association between cognitive activity and lower levels of a specific protein shown to increase one’s susceptibility to Alzheimer’s Disease over time. While physical exercise was not shown to directly decrease the likelihood of the disease’s onset, it was linked to greater cognitive activity in tested individuals, which then contributes to the reduction of overall risk factors.
The Franklin Institute offers an excellent overview of the human brain along with several suggested exercises to keep your mind and memory sharp. Some of the activities are quite simple to do and can often be done during a quick break from our busy schedule. Mentally stimulating activities like switching hands to control your computer’s mouse actually increases neural connections in our brain-very much like working out your muscles at the gym. If working with your left hand (or right hand for left-handed individuals) seems a bit difficult and awkward, don’t worry, that just means your brain is learning a new skill. Like picking up any new skill, the more you keep up with it, the easier it will become.
Our daily diet and food intake can also help keep our minds working in tip-top shape. As we all know, an unhealthy diet comprised of junk food and other questionably nutritious foods can do a number on our ability to remain physically and mentally fit. Our friends at WebMD highlight several foods that directly contribute to healthy brain function and should be included in our regular diet. Fortunately, several of these recommended foods are delicious and can easily be included in our daily meals, such as blueberries, avocados and even wild salmon.
Due to the relative lack of mental activity and mobility required of us these days, many of us are at risk for many diseases that could affect our brain’s health. As computer and desk jobs outnumber mentally and physically active lines of work, it becomes much more important to make time in our day to keep the mind and body active. For those of us who have yet to settle into a long term career, the Huffington Post offers a handy guide on some of the best and worst jobs out there for our health. Be sure to give articles such as this one a read to find out which jobs out there are best for keeping your mind and memory as sharp as they can be.
For those of us who must remain in a job that is largely sedentary and repetitive, there are several fun and creative games that can be played with family and friends to help keep our brains healthy. Psychology Today hosts an exceptional article that details how some games actually increase cognitive function drastically, and as a result, lowers one’s risk of developing brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimers. The article lists crossword puzzles, mentally-stimulating board or card games, reading and even tennis as valuable daily activities to help your brain remain in top form.
While it is impossible to completely safeguard yourself from memory loss and mentally-debilitating diseases such as Alzheimers, take heart in the fact that researchers everywhere agree that regular mental and physical activity can more than help to reduce the chances of them occurring. For more information on recognizing, as well as preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association is one of the best resources you will find both online and offline. By taking some time to familiarize yourself with the suggestions and techniques laid out in this article, know that you are well on your way to keeping your mind and memory as sharp as a tack.