Although it’s mostly older people who are concerned with mind exercises, new study indicates that we should pay more attention to brain health from an early age. One in ten people over age 65 have dementia, after age 85 it’s one in three. One research scientist has likened it to superannuation, as much as you should begin investing in the health of your mind as soon as possible.
The decrease in brain function can take decades significance that lifestyle in the first years will affect the brain as we age. Brain exercises are now considered perfectly normal. It appears that everywhere you go these days you will encounter people doing crosswords, Sudoku and various kinds of actions to keep the mind in shape but not so long ago the notion that the brain had exercising could have met with derision or scepticism.
My husband Chris and I have always believed in holistic health and back in the eighties we were getting interested in a new kind of eye exercise. When we discussed it among a group of family and friends they thought we’d lost the plot. One can only imagine what they’d have said about mind exercises. Whilst it’s obvious that the majority of people today want to keep everything in good working order for as long as possible, it’s no secret that, fear of dementia as we age is a driving force behind the brain exercise burst.
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Baby boomers, of which I am one, expect to live for quite a very long time and they hope to accomplish over their parents and grandparents did. People want to be healthy and fit to enjoy the latter part of the lives so brain health is becoming an accepted part of our health and fitness regime. A wholesome lifestyle has the capability to avoid around a third of dementia. Even people in the early phases of the disease can still make a difference if they make changes beneficial to the health of their mind.
Although it’s not by any means conclusive, medical science and research have proved that a healthy lifestyle makes a difference to the health of our mind. Some of the critical aspects that may help to decrease the effects of dementia are fairly well known to most people by now but it’s worth reiterating them. Avoid Smoking. Not smoking can help to prevent the onset of dementia. Additionally, it lowers the risk of other smoker related ailments.
Passive smoking may still be a issue but has been considerably reduced by introduction of smoking bans in the workplace and public places. It’s a known fact that if you quit smoking the body begins repairing itself straightaway irrespective of how long you’ve been a smoker. When the body is well preserved and cared for it will operate efficiently well into older age. Alcohol Consumption.
No-one can dictate precisely how much alcohol another individual should drink but the normal drinks rule does set guidelines for responsible drinking. Alcohol the same as smoking includes a whole raft of related diseases which are well documented.
Obesity is now looming as another health related catastrophe; this is shocking when you believe it is a preventable disease. Walking, cycling or cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart and the blood vessels into the brain. Apart from keeping you physically healthy, it helps the brain to become sharper and more alert.
A good night’s sleep is crucial for good health. This is the only time that the body can heal and rejuvenate itself. While it’s possible to get by on minimal sleep in the short term it’s not prudent to get it done on a regular basis. Over time sleep deprivation can cause significant health issues. And researchers are currently studying the effect that lack of sleep can have on the mind.
They’ve demonstrated that in the short term it may affect judgement, mood, and the capacity to learn and retain information. Lack of sleep may also disrupt the immune system and long term it may result in diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Healthy Eating Habits
A nutritious diet should consist of fresh healthy food and little or no processed food. Keep your fluid levels topped up with water as opposed to soft drinks or sweet juices. The entire diet dilemma can be a bit of a minefield, it simply is not feasible to prescribe an eating plan that suits everybody. Do your research, do not get taken in by fancy advertising and bear in mind that supplements are simply that; they are supposed to supplement a diet that is deficient of a specific vitamin or mineral. They can not totally compensate for the lack of a balanced diet.
Try not eating on the run, chew food completely and if you eat at a table in a comfortable place. It’s never too late to make adjustments to your lifestyle. The fantastic thing about exercising the mind is that the absolute variety of exercises or activities that are available.
However it’s necessary to change exercises so that they don’t become rote. Of course brain exercises do not need to be exercises in the strictest terms, any action that involves thinking is a workout in itself. An activity which involves learning something new is good for the mind, even a simple task being done for the first time engages the mind into thinking mode. Problem solving is a sort of mind exercise, especially complex issues with multiple solutions.
It might be argued that individuals who work or lead a hectic lifestyle do not have to do brain exercises but it is dependent upon how much they actually stretch the mind. Tasks that initially may have appeared complex become simpler so the brain does not work so hard. Anyone who has ever learnt to drive can relate to this. At first it’s frightening trying to remember all the moves, especially if it’s a manual drive.
However it soon becomes so natural that you barely have to consider it, it’s a little like being on automatic pilot. It’s almost like the mind is saying “Wake me when something happens”. The old saying”Use it or lose it” has lots of merit where the mind is concerned, so exercising it make sense. Although lots of folks consider mind exercises in relation to Sudoku, scrabble or chess it’s a much wider subject altogether.
Wat moet ik doen?
For anyone thinking of doing these kinds of exercises and wondering what could be best here is a short overview that might help. First of all of the exercises can be grouped into three major categories.
- Games. Brain exercises which are just that mind exercises, and nothing more. Games like scrabble, Sudoku, chess and are perfect because besides exercising the mind they’re a kind of enjoyment or comfort. They are mobile and can be done anywhere at any time, perfect in situations such as travel when one needs to wait around. Mobile platforms today make it simpler than ever, I could never get anyone to play scrabble with me nowadays I play against the computer whenever I want. Of course if one of these games are notched up to competition level that entails a larger workout for the mind.
- Brain exercises as a byproduct. This happens when you take a new interest which has a learning curve. If for example you became interested in astronomy and wanted to learn about it your mind would need to process all of the new details. This is a superb way to exercise the mind naturally. As our life becomes dominated by technology it’s imperative to acquire skills which enable us to take advantage of the digital age. Since computer technology is complicated it involves a major learning curve. Chris has always been into computers but I set off with one for years since it seemed too hard. Fortunately it’s never too late and now I have one of my own and do not know what I’d do without it!
- Brain exercises using a goal. This occurs when you tackle a job with an end goal in mind. You might do a college course to acquire a degree or learn a language to go travelling. Maybe you need a complete change of career and want to learn a new set of abilities. These kinds of activities appeal to folks who enjoy a challenge or that want to make changes in their lifetime. Increasing numbers of elderly people or retirees are moving in this way because they feel they need more from life than to sit around doing puzzles on a permanent basis. In his book “The mind that affects itself” Norman Doidge M.D. Not so many years ago the “Masters Games” were introduced since so many elderly people were engaging in competitive sport. Watching entrants aged from the nineties competing in marathons and swimming races would have appeared hopeless to our grandparents and parents. We accept it as normal as we know more about what the brain is capable of that knows what the future will bring.