Extend your life by exercising the most powerful organ in your body: your brain
The ultimate anti-aging trick? Brain exercises.
Living a long life almost always requires physical and mental health. Although it doesn’t usually get as much attention as regular physical activity, you can help keep your brain healthy by exercising.
“One of the keys to longevity is to consistently exercise our brains through stimulating activities that give us pleasure,” Dr. Laurie Archbald-Pannone, a geriatrician and associate professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, told Yahoo Lifestyle.
Archbald-Pannone says it’s completely normal for the brain to change over time – but it’s critical to keep it healthy during those changes. “Our brain is a powerful organ that controls our body, our movements, our emotions and everything in between,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to keep your brain engaged and keep it healthy and active as the ultimate anti-aging strategy.”
Archbald-Pannone recommends the following daily activities to keep your mind sharp, regardless of your age
Keep a gratitude journal.
A gratitude journal is just a place where you can jot down the things you’re grateful for, says Archbald-Pannone: “Focus on three things that went well for us that day, or three things that brought us joy. Research shows that this can improve our mood, emotions [and] overall health, and lower our risk of depression.”
Go for a walk every day.
Yes, exercise also helps improve memory. “Our brains and bodies are interconnected,” Archbald-Pannone notes, adding that “to keep our brains active, we need to keep our bodies active. “
If you can, she recommends taking a daily walk in the fresh air. “Fresh air releases endorphins in the brain, reduces stress, increases energy and contributes to overall health,” she says. However, if you can’t move easily, she suggests you just do what you can to stay active.
Contact a friend or family member.
Connecting with loved ones can help you maintain a clear memory. “Feeling part of a community is an important part of fighting isolation, which can improve our health, improve our mood, and improve our brain function,” Archbald-Pannone says.
That may mean being with loved ones or making video visits or phone calls. “The key is to stay connected and engaged as part of a community,” she says. archbald-Pannone says this “can improve our mood, increase our energy levels, and raise our serotonin levels, which is like the happy hormone in our brain that gives us more joy. It can bring us more happiness.”
Try a new one.
Archbald-Pannone says it can be anything. “Take up a new hobby, learn a new language, try a new activity,” she says. “The key is to develop your curiosity, get your brain working, learn new things, work differently and be challenged a little bit.”
She explains that a new skill requires repetition, problem solving, memory skills and curiosity – and these are all important factors in keeping brain cells active and the brain healthy.
Get quality sleep.
Your body needs rest to function properly. That’s why Archbald-Pannone says quality sleep is a must. It helps you “to be able to recharge and start again the next day”.
Archbald-Pannone points out that recent studies have even found that getting enough sleep helps clear the body of beta amyloid, a protein linked to the development of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re having trouble getting proper sleep, she recommends having a regular nighttime routine, limiting alcohol or caffeine, and turning off screens at least an hour before bedtime.
Archbald-Pannone says changing your routine can be overwhelming, which is why she recommends giving yourself “the grace to start slowly.
“Find something you love, find something you want to do every day, and build it up slowly,” she says. “Over time, it will become a habit, and then it’s time for a new habit.”