10 Fun Activities to Stay in Shape Mentally as we age

Home Over 55 Staff Writer 2016-03-28

As we grow older, more and more emphasis gets placed on our health; particularly our physical well-being. The one important aspect we often overlook about is that we not only have to take care of our bodies, but we must have a more holistic approach in terms of keeping fit which includes mental fitness.

How important is mental health really After 55?

We all know the saying "you're only as old as you feel", but we've never understood what it meant until scientists took a closer look at the connection between body and mind. Research has now proven that there's a lot more truth behind the saying than we thought. In fact, many researchers now believe that most of the things we've accepted as part of the aging process boils down to lifestyle choices and can actually be prevented.

Researchers have gone as far as stating that the staggering increase in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Dementia is directly related to a decline in mental abilities we ourselves are often in control of. Fortunately, it's never too late to start training your brain. Some participants who took part in these studies showed signs of some of the symptoms of the process of deterioration actually being reversed! We have the proof: there is no better time than now to start taking all steps possible in order to preserve our cognitive abilities.

How to keep your brain in shape?

There are no brain gyms we can go to for daily training sessions, no personal trainers to crack a whip and ensure we stick to our routines. Turns out there is a very good reason for this; keeping your brain in shape is simple (and fun) enough for us to do all on our own. Here are a few exercises and activities for you to do in the comfort of your own home:

  1. Meditate

    Turns out that meditation isn't just for people seeking spiritual enlightenment in ashrams. All you need to do is picture a scene or location that has a calming effect on you. This simple method challenges neurons in the less-dominant areas of our brains.

  2. You can teach an old dog new tricks

    It's true! The saying is a total myth. It has been proven that the wisdom and life experience you have picked up throughout the years along with mental capacity actually gives you an edge over the "spring chickens". Did you always want to learn Japanese? Have you ever wanted to play the piano? No matter what it is; now is the perfect time to make that investment in your brain reserves.

  3. Travel

    Whether it entails a plane ticket or a mere walk around the corner; go visit those places you've always heard about or wanted to see. Visiting new places stimulates the brain and creates new neuro-pathways.

  4. Play video games

    Sure, Johnny might fall off his chair when he hears that granny has taken up playing Grand Theft Auto, but you won't believe the benefits! Not only does this force you to learn a new skill, but it also increases reflexes and has a direct impact on the part of the brain in charge of problem solving.

  5. Get yourself a memory game

    Go down to your nearest corner store and get yourself a good old fashioned memory game. Whether you have to relay a story you have just read or remember which other card was pictured the apple – these all increase memory capacity. AARP also has a great selection of brain games on their site available free of charge.

  6. Get social

    We benefit more from conversing with others than we can ever imagine. Not only does it build social skills, but we are constantly learning new things from one another. There's never been a better excuse to start with some serious socializing.

  7. Don't just read the bad news

    We all love reading newspapers and magazines. But don't just read all the doom-and-gloom or sensational celeb stories. Take a minute and take on the challenge of a crossword or Sudoku. This is probably the best way in which you will see the increase in brain capacity: everyday you will find the puzzles getting easier and easier.

  8. Do things differently

    Be a little silly. If you always write with your right hand, try writing with your left. If you always sleep on the left side of the bed, sleep on the right. Rearrange the furniture in your living room. Varying old habits also create new brain pathways.

  9. Get some culture

    Go to your nearest museum, art gallery, theatre or library. These are all great places to pick up some new, interesting and fun information to store in that now expanding brain of yours.

  10. Write it down

    Your life isn't nearly as boring as you think it is. As we grow older everything changes and what was new and trending last year is perceived as an old fad today. Can you even imagine what a difference of 30+ years make? By writing down your life story and most precious memories, you are not only dusting off some of the older file folders in your brain, but also leaving an incredible legacy.

At the end of the day your mental capacity and whether you can maintain and sustain it is your responsibility; either you use it or you lose it. So let's put in the effort and start exercising those mental muscles!

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