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By Rebecca Fending
September is a great month to start mental exercises to keep your brain in healthy working condition. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are not concrete steps to preventing the disease, but there are tips and tricks to keep your brain active throughout your life to help prevent brain deterioration.
It seems like physical exercise is the answer to everything in terms of health, but with Alzheimer’s there is a direct link to head and heart health. Certain conditions (such as high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes) linked to heart disease also increase your risk of Alzheimer’s. According to the Association’s website, several studies have shown a link in which 80% of participants with these conditions also developed Alzheimer’s.
Exercise also helps increase blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, including the brain, keeping you young inside and out.
Brain Stimulation Exercises
Much like physical exercise can help keep your brain fed, mental exercise is just as important. Playing brain-supporting games like Scrabble, crossword puzzles, chess, even poker can help you utilize critical thinking skills to exercise your mind.
If you are a technology lover, smartphone games such as Candy Crush or word searches are also a great way to relax, have fun and still keep your brain active. Or, if you are looking to learn thanks to your technology, consider downloading a language learning application like Duolingo—a free app that lets you learn nearly any language in the world, fictional, extinct or otherwise.
Activities such as reading, writing or even crafting are all great ways to exercise your mind, as well. Writing and crafting help to exercise your hand-eye coordination. Not only does this keep your brain active, but it acts as a gauge for your brain function and speed.
Listen to the Music
A great but unexpected way to stimulate your mind is by simply listening to music. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, past research studies have shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. Because music is, “structural, mathematical and architectural,” making it deeply complex and stimulating for the mind.
The best way to put music to work for your brain? Explore new music, genres and artists. As we age, we tend to get comfortable with the classics. Branch out and listen to today’s top 40 hits just for a taste of change—it will do your brain good!