‘It’s never too late to learn something new’. This adage not only inspires one to stay enthusiastic for life but also practically applying it could keep you brain active and agile as you grow older. The more you make your brain work, the better and longer it will stay healthy and young. Learning a new language, a hobby, or an activity is an excellent workout for your brain. (Also read: Brain Diet: Foods to keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay)
There are also simple everyday things that can keep our brain in top shape and we should never eliminate them from our routine. Regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, a good night’s sleep and staying socially connected with friends are basics we should remember for better brain health.
Learn a new language or musical instrument
We all work out to stay in shape and something similar is required for your brain too. Let your brain explore an unfamiliar territory by giving it an opportunity to get out of comfort zone and learn something new.
“Try to learn a language you haven’t learned before or learn a new musical instrument to keep your brain fit and healthy. Music stimulates the brain and allows people to interact in a variety of ways,” says Dr Shirish Hastak, Neurologist and Regional Director for Neurology, Stroke and Neurocritical Care at Global Hospital.
Drawing or painting
In our quest of finishing our everyday chores and achieving daily goals, we often ignore our creative urges. Drawing helps in keeping our creative side alive which could at times help us in taking unconventional, life-transformative decisions.
“Drawing is beneficial to your mental health. There’s also a technique called brain mapping that can help you to connect by drawing and make effective plans at work,” says Dr Hastak.
Ability to move and sing
Over the time, our learning mediums get restricted to watching or listening, and we do not really apply our skills. Learning by ‘doing’ may take a backseat which is an important aspect of keeping our brain healthy. Learning to dance, sing and such performance-oriented activities is another way to sharpen our brain.
“The ability to move means dancing as it can improve brain kinaesthetic intelligence. Learn how to dance and keep your brain healthy. Joining a singing class, on the other hand, is a very effective method to keep your brain healthy,” says Dr Hastak.
Do not stop asking questions. You are never too old to know something new. Try to be curious, and use metaphor when you are talking. Just keep curiosity like a child will keep your brain healthy and happy, says the expert.
Here are some other lifestyle changes to improve your brain’s health, suggested by Dr Vipul Gupta , Chief – Neurointerventional Surgery & Co-Chief Stroke Unit, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram.
Regular exercise and active lifestyle
There’s a strong connection between our mind and body. By being physically active, one can keep both in a healthy state. Exercising has a variety of effects on the brain. It raises the heart rate, which causes the brain to receive more oxygen. It promotes the production of hormones that help brain cells thrive in a healthy environment. Walking, swimming, tennis, and any other light aerobic activity that raises your heart rate are all good options.
Sleep helps to keep the brain healthy by removing toxins that accumulate throughout the day. Sleep is essential for good brain health and cognitive performance. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of acquiring mental diseases such as depression and anxiety.
Eat a well balanced diet
Our brain’s shape and health are influenced by the meals we eat. A brain-boosting diet can help with both short and long-term memory. Your diet can help maintain your brain healthy and improve specific mental activities like memory and focus. All vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, foods rich in omega-3, vitamins, minerals should be included in a diet through out the day
Stay mentally active
Any activity that requires you to think, study, or network actively challenges your brain on a regular basis. These brain-stimulating hobbies can help you stay in better shape. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, chess, card games are all activities that keep the brain engaged and active
Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake
Oxidative stress has been associated to smoking, breathing tobacco smoke, or passive smoking. As a result, the risk of Alzheimer’s/Dementia increases dramatically. The brain consumes 20% of the oxygen supplied by the blood. Smoking affects blood artery structures, making it more difficult for blood to circulate freely throughout the body and brain.
Excessive alcohol consumption over time can cause brain shrinkage. It can alter a person’s regular behavior without causing hallucinations, interfere with long-term memory, and produce dissociative symptoms. All of these factors can significantly raise the chance of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Stay socially connected
Staying socially engaged helps you stay mentally connected. According to studies, persons who connect with others on a regular basis have higher brain function than those who do not. Socializing appears to have a preventive impact, potentially lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.