Tips for Keeping Your Brain Young
Tools and Tips
As we get older, we tend to get wiser in many ways. Thanks to experience, we may be
better at making decisions, have bigger vocabularies and be more expert in certain areas
than we were when we were younger. As our brains get older, however, it may be a bit
harder for us to learn certain information or remember things. It may be harder, for
instance, to remember your neighbor’s phone number, or your grandson’s birthday.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to keep your brain sharp and
working well throughout your life. Researchers call this “cognitive vitality.” Some research
suggests that doing such things as exercising regularly, eating right, and staying intellectually active can contribute to cognitive vitality.
Tips for Improving Cognitive Vitality
See your health care professional regularly Many health problems—such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, or not eating right—can make it hard to keep your mind sharp. It’s important to get regular check-ups to make sure you’re in good health and that any health problems you may have are under control. Follow your doctor’s or nurse’s advice.
Exercise Regular exercise—at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week—can help you stay sharp. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which helps keep the brain healthy and working well. Exercise may even help new brain cells grow. Walking is probably the easiest thing to do. Wear comfortable shoes and try walking around your block with a friend. If the weather is bad, you can also walk indoors at a mall or shopping center. Other great exercise choices include dancing, cycling, swimming and gardening.
Get enough sleep Older adults don’t need less sleep than younger adults. Getting less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night can make it harder to concentrate and remember.
Get rid of stress Over time, stress can make it hard to get a good night’s rest. Stress can also make it harder to concentrate, learn and remember. Exercise, prayer and meditation are good stress relievers.
Think, think, think The more you use your brain, the better it’ll work. Read. Do that crossword puzzle. Play bridge. Join a discussion group at a senior center or church. Take a class at your local community college. Learn to play the piano or speak Spanish.
Socialize Spending time with other people also seems to give your brain a boost. Find ways to meet and get to know others. Join a club. Volunteer. Try a part-time job.
Eat right A diet that is low in saturated fat (the kind found in fried foods, butter, cheese, beef and pork) but rich in fruits and vegetables and B vitamins is good for your brain. Your diet should also include a couple of servings of fish, especially salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, each week. These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good fats that your brain needs. Ask your doctor or nurse if you should also take multiple vitamin daily.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other healthcare provider. Always consult your healthcare provider about your medications, symptoms, and health problems.
Last Updated November 2006