If you want to shield your brain from the ravages of time—from the possibility of dementia—there is a bundle of things you can do. Here’s one idea that is quite fun and very rewarding: learn something new, such as a language or a musical instrument. Your mind won’t know what hit it!
These are acknowledged as superior “exercises” for the brain. On the language front, perhaps you’ve been meaning to take Spanish for a while, or French, Italian, Hebrew, or German. Whatever the case, the simple act of attempting to learn bits of a new language is an incredible workout for the brain. All you really need is about 15 hours a month.
Or maybe you have some musical prowess? The act of learning an instrument is a great exercise, and it pays off great dividends; you’ll know how to strum a guitar, or play a violin, for instance. The act of concentrating on notes and the coordination of fingers and following rhythm will have your brain working overtime.
Many of us don’t have the time or inclination to devote to a new language or instrument. So instead, just keep brain exercises in mind, so to say, and consider them the mental equivalent of taking the stairs instead of the escalator. Do a crossword or read a serious magazine feature article instead of flipping aimlessly through reality show television. Find ways to stretch your mind within the framework of an activity you already enjoy. If you love tinkering with the car, learn new methods. If you love baseball then start concentrating on box scores and even tabulate your own pile of statistics.
You can also extend this learning concept to taking a continuing education course online or at a local college. The more educated the brain, the less risk it will succumb to age-related memory decline. People who pursue mental activities and education have an added layer of protection against Alzheimer’s.
One last fun mental exercise for you: dancing. Researchers come back to this time and again as being the perfect activity to give your mind a workout. Science has determined that dancing can significantly reduce your risk of dementia. It’s no wonder why, as dancing involves a great deal of mental effort in figuring out which way to turn the feet, swing the hips, and so on.
So get out there, and learn something new. The benefits are potentially huge.