Easy steps to improve your mind at any age
Is it becoming more common to forget where you left your keys, or whether you left the light on before leaving the house? You may be filled with dread knowing your memory isn't what it used to be. But it happens to all of us: panic at the thought of losing our mental faculties. And it’s no wonder because, according to the American Alzheimer's Association, Hispanics are at high risk of developing diseases related to mental deterioration. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of Hispanics with Alzheimer's and related diseases could reach at least 1.3 million – which is six times more than it is today. (1)
Which is why it is important to improve our eating habits, control risk factors, and regulate weight, sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. (2)
More cardiovascular exercise, daily, helps oxygenate the brain. If you are not a fan of intense cardiovascular exercise, you can at minimum walk. (3)
Avoid excessive inflammation in the body, including the brain. For this, Omega 3 could be an excellent ally. (4, 5)
And, of course, keep the brain active as well. Below are 7 easy ways to train your brain, no matter how old you are.
Memorize the details
Look at a picture or image with a lot of visual information for a few seconds. Notice the colors, shapes, letters, and any other details. Close your eyes and try to recall at least 5 elements from the image. (6, 7)
Bring out your inner child and play with puzzles
It may appear to be just a game, but puzzles are an excellent exercise for keeping an active memory. Look for animal or landscape puzzles and, as you go along, you can put together more and more complex ones. You can also challenge yourself by using a stopwatch to measure how long it takes you to complete the original figure. (8)
Remember the route
No one likes to forget the way home. But as we get older, it can happen. We might confuse places or forget details. This can eventually occur at any age due to a general lack of concentration and relying too much on technology to solve our everyday problems. A good exercise is to retrace the route to an everyday place, like from your house to your favorite supermarket, church, the hairdresser, a park, etc.
Try to write down or mentally recall the main streets of that route, the number of blocks between one point and the other, and points of reference such as a gas station or a big tree. Draw the route in a notebook on a weekly basis, to record new details. (9)
The numbers game
Practices like sudoku have become extremely popular. There are studies that support its effectiveness in keeping the mind active by using logic and analysis, improving memory, and promoting learning and relaxation. Sudoku can be played online, on specialized sites, or using booklets sold in many stores. (10)
Do small, basic arithmetic exercises such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication – just like when you were in school. Activities with numbers activates the parietal and frontal cortexes, as well as other regions of the brain (11). The important thing is to solve the exercises from memory or in writing, without the help of fingers, calculators, or smartphones. (12)
Learn new words
Our brain does not wear out. On the contrary, its plasticity allows neural connections to expand if we put them to the test. Add vocabulary, either in English or in another language, to your mental toolbelt. Repetition also helps maintain and create new connections. (13)
Take advantage of your mental agenda
Many of us today proudly count our entire lives as being stored on cell phones and in the ‘cloud.’ But the best place to store important data, like loved ones’ phone numbers, is in our minds where no one can delete them! This is an excellent practice to keep memory active. (14, 15)
Let's get healthier, together.
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