One of the most common myths about aging is that memory loss and impaired brain function is inherent in the process. While aging is inevitable, cognitive decline is not and there are many simple steps seniors and older individuals can take to keep their brains in tip-top shape for years to come. By adopting these simple exercises and habits, it’s easy to keep your brain sharp and alert at any age. Here are the 10 best and natural exercises to help keep your brain in shape.
Did you know that something as simple as journaling can help keep your brain sharp? Since writing involves carrying out a physical action to form letters and make meaning, the simple act of hand-writing something has been shown to sharpen mental function, activating and honing the parts of our brains that are responsible for memory and language formation.
This is not true for typing on a keyboard, however, since the act of pressing a key doesn’t trigger the same brain activity. In order to get all the brain benefits writing has to offer, try to make it a daily practice. You don’t have to spend hours writing, either – a simple 15 or 20 minutes of jotting down your thoughts every morning is more than enough to trigger enhanced mental function and keep your brain sharp.
2. Take short naps
In addition to being good for your body, a short nap is also fantastic for your brain. According to a study conducted by Rosalind Cartwright ad Dr. Alon Avidan, chairmen of the psychology department at Rush University and director of the sleep disorders program at UCLA, respectively, a power nap of 15-20 minutes each day can improve memory and overall cognitive ability. Be careful to keep your naps short, though, so that you don’t fall into a deep sleep and risk throwing off your circadian rhythms for the following night’s sleep.
3. Stay hydrated
The human brain is roughly 85% comprised of water and you can bet that if you get dehydrated, it’s going to affect your brain function first and foremost. With that in mind, drinking plenty of water (at least 8-10 glasses a day, and more for seniors who take diuretics) is a great way to stay mentally sharp and keep the brain functioning well at every stage of life.
Staying hydrated doesn’t just mean water, though. According to one study, drinking plenty of fruit and vegetable juice can protect against Alzheimer’s disease, so if you want to reduce the risk of cognitive decline it’s wise to supplement your water intake with plenty of high-quality juices.