We talk a lot about physical health as you get older because it’s important to keep your body in good shape. Your risk of health issues of all kinds increases but you need to be particularly careful about things like heart disease. Regular exercise and a good diet will reduce the risk of serious physical health problems, but what about your mind?
There are a lot of cognitive issues that affect people in later life, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, and it’s just as important to protect yourself from these things as well.
Cognitive decline is far more likely to happen in people that don’t keep their mind active and engaged as they get older. This is something that you should start paying attention to now because it’s a lot easier to keep up good habits if you start them early on.
These are some of the best ways to keep your mind sharp as you start to get older.
Everybody knows that exercise is good for your physical health, but a lot of people don’t realize that it’s good for your brain as well.
The body and the brain are closely connected and usually, what’s good for one is good for the other. Studies show that regular exercise can help to improve cognitive function and memory.
When you exercise, it increases the blood flow around your body and to your brain, which makes your brain work more effectively.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do but things like long distance running or swimming are particularly good because your brain is receiving increased blood flow for a sustained period. Short bursts of exercise are still beneficial, but those benefits will be felt more in the body than the mind.
Like most health issues, your diet has a big role to play in cognitive decline.
There are certain foods, like oily fish that have been shown to improve brain function due to the omega-3 that they contain. We also know that saturated fats and sugars can increase inflammation in the body, which is a big contributing factor to cognitive decline in later life.
That’s why people that eat a Mediterranean diet have a reduced risk of problems like Alzheimer’s and dementia when they are older.
The Mediterranean diet consists of a lot of healthy fats, like olive oil, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Most importantly, it doesn’t contain anywhere near as many saturated fats and sugars as the typical western diet and it doesn’t include many processed foods either.
If you are concerned about cognitive decline, you should consider switching to a more Mediterranean inspired diet and cutting out a lot of the processed stuff that you normally eat.
As well as the food that you eat, you should consider supplements that you can add to your diet as well.
We’ve already seen that omega-3 can help a lot but if you don’t particularly like oily fish, you can take it as a supplement instead. Taking Idebenone supplements on a regular basis will also help to improve your cognitive function and your overall health.
This great antioxidant improves your circulation and has been shown to support the white matter in your brain, so it’s perfect for improving your brain function as you get older.
Improve Your Posture
If you have bad posture, you probably experience a lot of back and neck pain, but have you thought about how it could be affecting your cognitive health?
Most people don’t realize that their bad posture is reducing the circulation to their brain and can have a huge impact on cognitive health in later life. If you are worried about your posture, it’s important that you take steps to correct it now.
A good mattress is so important if you want to maintain good posture but a lot of people neglect their mattress and keep it for a lot longer than they should.
You should replace your mattress once every 6 to 8 years because they degrade and they won’t give you the right support anymore.
If your mattress is past its useful life, you should replace it and you’ll notice a huge difference to your posture.
If you work at a desk, that can also do a lot of damage to your posture. It’s important that you set your desk up properly and invest in a good chair that offers good support.
Fixing your posture will improve your physical health and it will also boost your brain function as well.
Get More Sleep
Lack of sleep is associated with a lot of cognitive problems like poor memory and trouble concentrating. If you regularly miss sleep, this can lead to some serious long term cognitive problems if you are not careful.
Getting a new mattress is one of the best ways to improve your sleep patterns, but there may be other reasons that you aren’t sleeping properly.
Not having a good routine makes a difference because your body clock is all out of sync. If you try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, you will notice a big difference. You should also try to cut back on your screen time before bed because the blue light can keep you up.
Listen To Music
Listening to music is a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful day, but did you know that it’s also great for cognitive function?
Music is filled with so many different repetitive patterns and rhythms, and when your brain picks out and recognizes these patterns, it can help to improve your memory function.
Playing music is even more effective than listening to it. If you play an instrument and learn to read music, it’s a brilliant workout for your brain and you get the same benefits that you would when you are listening to music.
You don’t have to be a musical genius to get the cognitive benefits so you should consider picking up an instrument if you want to look after your mind.
Write By Hand
Writing by hand is brilliant for improving your memory, concentration and overall cognitive ability. Unfortunately, we don’t write by hand that much anymore because most of the time we’re typing on computers.
Writing in any form will improve your cognitive function so you should try to do it as much as possible.
Whenever you are making a shopping list or jotting down notes, always do it by hand instead of typing on your phone. You could also try writing a journal or doing some creative writing.
Doing something creative is a great way to exercise your brain as well, so writing poetry or short stories is a fun way to look after your mind. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t that good because your brain still benefits either way. You could even try writing old fashioned letters by hand if you’ve got anybody to send them to.
Do Some Puzzles
Puzzles are one of the most obvious ways to exercise your brain and improve cognitive function. Simple things like crosswords or sudoku are the perfect way to kill 5 minutes without staring at your phone screen and it’s great for your brain. You can also try jigsaw puzzles for adults. Here is a nice selection of wooden ones from Unidragon.
But if you don’t like those kinds of puzzles, there are other ways to give your brain a workout.
Video games, for example, are filled with puzzles. Even though you might complain at your kids for playing too many video games, maybe you should give it a try. It’s a more relaxed way to engage with puzzles and it still benefits your brain. There are plenty of great puzzle games that you can get on your phone, which you can play when you have a spare 10 minutes.
Games like chess are brilliant for flexing your brain muscles as well because you have to plan multiple moves ahead and learn to strategize.
Read A Book
A lot of adults find it tough to find the time to read and it’s all too tempting to scroll on your phone instead of picking up a book.
But if you want to look after your mind as you get older, you should get into the habit of reading instead of playing on your phone. It’s particularly good at night because you can avoid any negative impact on your sleep by avoiding screens.
Reading has been shown to reduce cognitive decline in a big way, so this is one of the best habits that you can get into.
If you don’t have the attention span for a long book, why not subscribe to a magazine or newspaper instead? It doesn’t really matter what you read as long as you make it a regular habit. If you have kids, you should read to them regularly because it will benefit them as well as you.
Looking after your brain health is so important as you get older and the earlier you start, the less likely you are to develop cognitive issues in later life.