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Kendal at Home Blog

Use It or Lose It: Tips for Older Adults to Boost Brain Power

Posted by Lynne Giacobbe on January 2, 2013 at 12:04 PM

aerobic exercise elderlyThe brain is an organ, not a muscle. But like a muscle, your brain gets stronger the more you use it. Engaging in activities that stimulate your brain not only improves brain function, but can help protect against cognitive decline. By the same token, many of those annoying mental lapses we all experience as we grow older can be traced to lack of mental exercise. In this respect, your brain is like your muscles: use it or lose it! 

In recent years, scientists have discovered that mental stimulation and physical exercise can trigger the growth of new neurons and connectors in the brain. Equally significant, the ability to regenerate and strengthen the brain does not diminish with age. 

Including the following activities in your daily life can help boost your brain power no matter your age! 

  • Engaging in aerobic exercise for as little as 15 minutes three times a week is enough to keep your brain healthy; but research shows that increasing exercise to 30 minutes per day could reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 30 percent. In a University of Illinois study, people more than 60 years of age who walked regularly were able to shave two years off their brain age. Any regular aerobic activity— swimming, dancing, bicycling, canoeing, gardening— offers the same benefit. Adding strength training to your exercise routine can aid memory and problem-solving. The Kendal at Oberlin fitness center and pool offer opportunities for residents as well as Kendal at Home members to partake in numerous aerobic exercises. Plus, walking around your neighborhood or the local mall is absolutely free. So get moving!
  • Practice mindful relaxation techniques to reduce stress. In a Harvard study, adults who practiced mindful stress reduction for eight weeks exhibited a significant increase in the density of gray matter in the hippocampus, which is associated with learning and memory. Learn more about the soothing technique here.
  • Challenge your brain to learn new things, try new activities, and socialize with new people. Kendal at Oberlin and Kendal at Home offers an exciting array of social activities, interest groups, educational and volunteer opportunities to stimulate your brain. 

To learn more about the way your brain works, download our free guide, “Understanding Your Cognitive, Mental & Emotional HealthTo learn more about Kendal Northern Ohio and our affiliates, contact us today.


Topics: older adults, brain exercises, wellness

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