Brain Games, Part 1
Training your brain to stay young and healthy
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 16:11
Wrinkles, gray hairs and hearing loss are not the only byproducts of aging that trouble young and middle-aged adults in our society. Fretting over the oncoming of dementia or Alzheimer’s, and worrying that loss of memory will transform us into completely new people as we age are also common concerns.
The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a study on seniors, finding that those who “participated in brain-stimulating activities more than once a week over a 20-year interval reduced their risk of dementia by a whopping 63 percent.”
Young people’s desires to stay young should not only apply to physical appearance but to brain fitness as well. Continuing to strengthen your brain at a young age instead of allowing it to deteriorate will keep you looking and feeling young well into your older adult life.
Similar to exercising your heart or your muscles, exercising your brain requires repetition and a conscious effort to take on a beneficial workout. Here are several tips on how to train your brain:
No. 1: Use both halves
The left side of your brain houses verbal memory and logic while the right side focuses on visual memory. If performed often, playing games that make you think -- even if these games are found on your laptop or Smartphone -- will boost your mental agility and strengthen your mind over time. Facebook’s “Words With Friends” is a great start, and incorporating hands-on board games like Bananagrams or Scrabble and other mind games, such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles, could help you be more social.
No. 2: Step away from technology
At least two hours per day is recommended for spending time away from technology. Hewlett-Packard authorized a study that found phone and e-mail interruptions to decrease adequate concentration skills along with problem-solving skills, which in turn caused “IQ scores to drop by an average of 10 points.”
No. 3: Socialize
Interacting with friends or family -- simply sitting around having casual conversations that spark your intellect or calling on your creative side while playing games, going to museums or forming a book club -- will increase your longevity by 20 percent over those who seek little to no social interaction.
No. 4: Try something new
Sign up for a cooking class, study certain phrases in a new language, or learn how to play an instrument; all of these are examples of how to stimulate the brain daily so its neural pathways remain strong and connected.
No. 5: Exercise
While stretching and toning exercises do benefit your body, aerobic workouts are said to aid in connectivity between brain cells, according to a University of Illinois study. On a less sweaty level, try throwing a ball around with a friend or mastering the skill of juggling to help fine-tune your brain’s hand-eye coordination, tactile and visual responses.
Tips six through ten can be found in the next issue, along with the answers to today’s brain game and the question “What are the best brain-fueling foods?”