Scientists are discovering that exercising your brain can help prevent memory loss and may be able to delay the development of memory-robbing conditions like dementia and Alzheimers disease. Challenging your brain to learn new things or solve problems triggers the growth of new brain cells and increases the number of connectors between brain cells for all ages whether you're 9 or 90!
To keep your brain razor sharp, experts recommend the following:
- Get plenty of sleep. The brain solidifies new neuron connections primarily during sleep; so give your brain plenty of time to perform this important task. In tests, taking a nap immediately after learning something new improved memory. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of total sleep per day, including naps.
- Exercise your body. Engaging in 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week improves memory function. Not only does aerobic exercise increase blood flow to the brain and increase the production of proteins linked to long-term memory, but scientists have found that exercise can also trigger the creation of new neuron connections in the hippocampus, the part of the brain most associated with memory.
- Fuel your brain. Like any part of your body, your brain needs food to function correctly. Fuel your brain by eating a healthy diet rich in foods that contain antioxidants and essential nutrients such as blueberries and leafy green vegetables, particularly spinach.
- Sip a glass of wine. In a recent study, women who drank one alcoholic beverage a day performed 20% better on memory tests than heavy drinkers or nondrinkers.
Check back next time for more memory boosting tips! In the meantime, download our free guide, Understanding Your Cognitive, Mental & Emotional Health.
Photo: Angela Rutherford