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Using Mind Games To Your Advantage


As we grow older, we cannot help noticing that our brains don’t work as well as they once did. We forget things, including names and keys and sometimes appointments. We wonder how much worse it’s going to get. The aging population has become a prime market for “brain calisthenics” programs and other mental workouts (as well as a plethora of useless and occasionally dangerous supplements, hormones, vitamin cocktails, and diets). Can “use it or lose it” really be applied to mental ability?

Exercising the brain can enrich your life, banish boredom, help prevent or treat depression, confer a sense of accomplishment, and become a pathway to new friendships. You don’t need to invest in special games or training programs.

If you follow the tips below, it’s a good bet you will feel better, function more effectively, and enjoy life more.

• Make self-education a lifelong project. Read, take a class, do puzzles, play intellectually stimulating games, pursue an absorbing hobby—whatever offers you a challenge and makes you think. Try not to tackle things that are too difficult and thus frustrating.

• Get some exercise daily. There’s pretty good evidence for exercise’s benefits on the brain and mood. Regular activity provides your brain with a better blood supply. Adults who exercise tend to do better on mental tests. It’s never too late to start. Brisk walking is an excellent form of daily exercise.

• Get adequate sleep. If insomnia is affecting your ability to function, get medical advice.

• Stay in touch. Volunteer, join a group, go to community meetings, travel with companions, cook a meal for friends. Interacting with others benefits your brain more than just relaxing or watching TV.

• Treat depression. This is important for mental vitality.

• Eat well. Stick to a heart-healthy diet. Eat some fish. Keep your calorie intake moderate. Research suggests that what benefits the cardiovascular system can also benefit the brain.

• Get checkups. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease can impact your mental acuity. Do all you can to stay in good health and to treat any condition you have.

• Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

• Don’t smoke or use tobacco in any form, and try to avoid other people’s smoke.

• Don’t waste your mental energy on the claims of “anti-aging” dietary supplements and potions promoted for improving memory. Just remember (no mnemonics necessary) that products labeled “anti-aging” do not work.

  • More articles on keeping the Mind fit

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