There is no one way to keep your brain active and build brain reserves. Some of us will prefer solving crosswords, playing chess, bridge, Sudoku or other mind-games. Crafts, reading, learning new languages or skills can all be stimulating activities.

Options for optimizing brain function as we age:

  • Increase physical activity
    • Try a cardio class at your local gym
    • Have a session with a personal trainer or exercise physiologist
    • Walk to the shops or to work instead of driving
    • Go for a weekend bike ride with your family
    • Throw a Frisbee in your local park
  • Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids – a high intake of trans-fats and saturated fats is associated with increased rates of cognitive decline, so increase your intake of fish, fish oils, nuts and omega-3 supplements
  • Eat a ‘rainbow’ of fresh fruits and vegetables daily to ensure your brain gets access to valuable antioxidants
  • Try a new recreational pursuit – go camping if you are typically city-bound
  • Keep challenging your brain – do the crossword, a puzzle, start a Bridge course, read regularly, play word association games – whatever mental activities you choose, keep your brain working on a daily basis
    • Keep engaging in new activities
    • Learn a new language
    • Read up on a novel subject
    • Enrol in a TAFE or university course
    • Do crosswords, Sudoku or brain puzzles
  • Manage stress – find time to relax and make constructive lifestyle changes that help prevent stress
    • Try a yoga class
    • Start meditation – 5 minutes morning and evening is a positive beginning
    • See a counselor or psychologist to debrief
    • Get a massage or facial on a weekly or fortnightly basis
    • Try rhythmic breathing such as Buteko Breathing
  • Get quality sleep – if your sleep habits are poor make changes to improve them
  • Take up gardening – even if you live in an apartment you can do gardening in a pot
  • Book in for a series of neurofeedback sessions to enhance feelings of wellbeing
  • Buy an AVE system and give your brain a boost: go to www.mindalive.com for a reputable brand

Last Reviewed 02/Mar/2014

 

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Merlin Thomas is a physician and a scientist. His research laboratory is at the JDRF/ Danielle Alberti Memorial Centre for the study of Diabetes Complications at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.
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