As people age they worry about keeping their mind healthy, but what they forget about is that our minds need a regular workout. Brains need to stay active. Just like you do a cardio workout for your heart or do some light weight lifting to keep up your strength and endurance, the mind needs a good workout too.
Often, the memory loss and loss of mental acuity that we associate with aging is not really a natural part of aging at all. It's simply a result of not staying mentally active. It can also be from a poor diet and/or not getting the right kind of nutrition. Your brain needs three things – it needs to be fed with nutrients, oxygen and water. Just as important - it also needs to be fed with puzzles and thinking activities.
To keep your mind active and healthy, here are some ways you can challenge it.
It can be really easy to keep your mind busy and do some fun activities that keep it performing properly. Doing some/any kind of physical activity not only challenges your muscles, but the extra oxygen you're taking in is good for the mind - not to mention keeping you coordinated. Your brain is at work trying to help you stay coordinated and balanced. It's not just a physical thing, it's a mental thing too.
Playing mind games and learning new skills are excellent ways to give your mind a boost. You may feel tiring in the beginning, especially if you haven't been doing any kind of mental work, but with some practice, your brain will actually start craving the stimulation. Who knew?
* Hang out with friends. Socializing is not only enjoyable, it's a mental activity. As we get older, we sometimes lose connections with family and friends. Now you have one more reason to meet with them – to keep your mind active. If they aren't able to meet with you, look for a group or club you can join for some social interaction, like the Red Hat Society for example. Experts recommend engaging in social activities at least once a week, possibly more. Many of these groups have bingo night. Games like this allow social interaction with friends but it's also great for your mind.
* Get moving! Exercise is a great way to challenge your brain. Getting active with Pilates and Yoga are gentle on the body but they also require a great degree of mental focus. Exercise your brain while you move your body. Going for a walk or taking a low-impact aerobics class is also a great brain workout. Yoga also helps quiet the mind. That may sound like the opposite of what we're talking about, but getting rid of mental clutter is good for your brain. It helps it focus on important stuff.
* Enjoy games. Crosswords puzzles, Sudoku, checkers or chess can challenge your mind too. These mind games force you to look at things from different perspectives, which is a brain-building activity. If you can't find anyone to play with, most of these are available as computer software. Some are free, while others may cost you a little bit.
* Get a hobby. Engaging in a hobby you enjoy can also keep the mind sharp. It might be gardening, woodworking, or even writing your memoirs. The important thing is that you do it. You will have fun and also keep your mind healthy. If you can't decide what you'd like to do, just visit a craft and hobby store. There are tons of things available. Paint by number is still very popular, easy to do and is great mind work.
* Do some scrapbooking. Not only does scrapbooking challenge your mind to think creatively, it reinforces those memory skills. It will also keep your interest and train your brain to focus on an activity for a length of time. It may seem silly, but scrapbooking is like adult kindergarten. It's a ton of fun gluing shapes and textures onto a thick sheet of paper. You can add family photos and all kinds of stuff. It will bring out the youngster in you…imagine that!
An important part of your overall health and fitness is taking care of your mental health. By challenging your brain with some of the above ideas, you will keep your mind active and this will also keep depression from setting in. Depression is not always an age related problem, but those who suffer from depression are often couch potatoes. Instead of engaging their minds, they stare at a television set that does nothing to stimulate their mental functions. Remember, an active mind is a healthy mind.
Now, scoot…get out and get moving!