Keep Your Brain in Shape: Mental Fitness at 50+

Keep Your Brain in Shape: Mental Fitness at 50+

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Though many of us worry about staying fit in our senior years, few of us really consider the importance of keeping our brains "fit" as well.

Maintaining your cognitive health doesn't require sitting around answering riddles all day! Instead, follow these easy tricks for keeping your mind razor-sharp. Your brain will be thanking you for years to come!

 

 

 

1.) Eat your greens!

Recent research has proven that a number of healthy greens improve memory recall and overall brain health. Spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli are four of the best vegetables for boosting levels of folate and vitamin E in the body, both of which improve brain functioning. A moderate serving of these greens will contribute significantly towards your daily intake of these nutrients.

Are you not a fan of these strongly-flavored veggies? Instead, opt for avocado! This creamy fruit is also filled with vitamin E. Enjoy it as a snack or as a creamy guacamole dip. Packed with vitamin C, regular consumption of avocado may even lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's!

Be sure to snack on these healthy greens to keep your brain as sharp as it can be!

 

2.) Treat your brain to a challenge!

Keeping your brain "in shape" is critical to maintaining your mental fitness as you age. The best way to do this is by tackling a new mental challenge. Pick a challenging mental project that's enjoyable to you and stick with it. Are you passionate about learning a new language? Have you always wanted to understand astrophysics? Find something you're passionate about and go for it!

Contrary to what many currently believe, research has not yet proven that "brain games" like crosswords or Sudoku puzzles actually prevent dementia in old age. Learning new material is a much better method for maintaining your mental stamina into your golden years.

Choose to challenge your brain today; your mind will thank you later.

 

3.) Get your heart rate up!

Research is increasingly finding that aerobic exercise is crucial to maintaining life-long brain health. Recent studies at Concordia University have shown that regular exercise improves circulation throughout the body, optimizing the flow of oxygen to the brain. Physically fit individuals showed improvement in frontal lobe functioning, which is responsible for aiding individuals in complete high-skill activities and multitasking.

Adults should strive to engage in vigorous exercise for at least 2-3 hours every week. Doing so will aid your physical health as well as your mental well-being.

 

4.) Enjoy an extra cup of coffee with breakfast!

Do you feel sharper after your first cup of coffee in the morning? Recent research has proven that these caffeine boosts may be benefiting us in more ways than we previously realized.

Studies show that consuming 2-4 cups of coffee a day decreases the chance of an individual suffering from dementia in old age. Even better, the drink has been associated with preventing normal cognitive decline in all individuals.

Though it hasn't yet been discovered whether it is coffee's antioxidants or caffeine that supports cognitive health, one thing is clear: a few "cups of Joe" a day can keep dementia at bay!

 

5.) Get some great shut-eye!

Everyone knows that they remember things better after getting a good night's sleep. Now, research is showing that high-quality rest is critical to long-term cognitive health, too.

Recent studies done on mice have shown that less sleep results in decreased dendritic spine growth in the brain, reducing the ability of mice to remember newly-learned skills. Other research has shown that too little sleep can cause rogue proteins to accumulate in the body, increasing individuals' risk of acquiring Alzheimer's disease. Poor-quality sleep can also impair memory and decrease brain functioning over time.

Simply put, it is important to rest, and rest well, to keep your brain optimally fit.

 

By taking care of your body in these ways, you can rest assured knowing that you are doing your brain a favor. Treat your mind well today and you'll be reaping the benefits for many years to come!

 

Photo: © vladgrin - Fotolia.com

Editor, 02/19/2015

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