The Importance Of Exercising Your Brain
Studies have shown that our brain capacity reaches its peak between 20 to 27 years old. After this, our mental processes begin a steady decline; as we grow older our brains become more and more inactive. One of the most serious brain illnesses that are related to aging is Alzheimer’s. But the most common and very normal mental affliction that affects aging individuals is short-term memory loss. In some cultures, however, this is not true. In China, for example, the elderly are respected for their memory and wisdom. The mental acuity of elderly Chinese can be attributed to their culture that values and promotes continuous learning, from the very young to the very old.
In today’s world of computers and other high-tech gadgets, individuals rarely need to use their brains anymore to perform their everyday functions, at home and at work. Even using the calculator, which has been around for centuries, is a lazy habit that deprives our brain of the simplest of exercises that it needs.
Additionally, individuals who have been very productive for most of their lives can quickly go into a dormant mental, and physical, stage as soon as they go into retirement. Because they don’t need to use their thought processes as often as they used to, their mental acumen dulls, much like the muscles can atrophy due to lack of use.
Aside from aging, an unhealthy diet and lack of adequate physical activity can also affect your brain’s functions. Not getting enough exercise and eating fatty foods causes a buildup of fats in the body which slows it down. As the body slows down, the brain slows down too.
But the scene need not be so bleak. There are a lot of methods and activities that can be done to exercise the brain and keep it sharp. Getting more blood to the brain will feed the brain cells oxygen and food. Just like all other organs of the body, keeping the brain oxygenated makes it function properly and more efficiently. In addition, getting more blood to the brain has been shown to counteract aging. You can pump more blood to your brain through exercises to keep it from being inactive, which may ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s, by increasing neuron usage.
Visualization of old memories is a great brain stimulant. When visualizing, you should try to remember as many details from your memory as you can, like the details of your grandmother’s house where you used to spend your summers.
You can also exercise your brain by doing simple math in your head. An excellent mental activity is to subtract seven from 900 and continue subtracting seven from the subsequent differences. Doing simple math creates new dendrites, which are the branches of a neuron. These dendrites tend to disappear as you get older, but by exercising your brain constantly, you maintain your dendrites and create new dendrite networks. Dendrites receive and conduct electrical signals in the brain.
Doing crossword puzzles are also great brain stimulants because it involves verb and noun associations. Here’s a simple activity:
The little girl sang. The little girl danced. What did the little girl do next?
Thinking about the third activity stimulates brain waves.
Other simple, mind-enhancing activities include playing music or chess. The elderly can keep their minds sharp by getting involved in decision-making projects. No matter what age, learning a new word every day or every week can also help us keep our brains in tiptop shape!