World Brain Day 2023: Exercises to keep your brain active and avoid dementia
Want to stay mentally young forever? Here are techiques and exercises to keep your brain active.
Just like the body, your brain also requires workout to remain active and agile as one grows older. Amid growing cases of dementia which have roots in stress and unhealthy lifestyle, a little extra care can go miles in maintaining cognitive wellness. (Also read: World Brain Day 2023: Foods to eat and avoid for sharper memory, improving brain health)
As we age, our brain tends to shrink in volume and in absence of efforts to keep it engaged, one may face a range of brain-related issues from memory decline to dementia. A good mental health can help one remain self-dependent even in old age when the body grows feeble.
One of the ways to keep the brain active and boost blood flow to the crucial organ is physical exercise. Yoga, walking, cycling are some of the exercises recommended for brain health. One should also try to find new ways to challenge the brain. A slight change in routine, a puzzle, a crossword, using your non-dominant hand, learning new words, new skills, socialising with people, and reading can also help your brain remain active.
"Maintaining cognitive function is imperative for living a happy and independent life as we age. The ageing population is significantly at risk from dementia, a collection of cognitive illnesses characterised by memory loss and impaired logical thinking. We can possibly lower the risk of dementia by adopting proactive measures to keep our brains busy and active. Regularly engaging in cognitive exercises and activities can help keep your brain active and perhaps lower your chances of developing dementia," says Dr Aditya Gupta, Director, Neurosurgery and Cyberknife Centre, Artemis Hospital Gurgaon.
How physical exercises can improve brain health
Physical exercise not only cuts risk of chronic diseases but can also boost size of certain areas of brain that are associated with memory and thinking. Exercise by working on insulin resistance and inflammation can also help manage the health of brain cells.
Physical exercises for brain health
"Aerobic exercises like swimming, cycling, jogging, and dancing are good for cognition and mental health as they decrease anxiety and depression. Improved sleep, energy, and stamina are other good effects of physical exercise. Furthermore, they help in weight reduction and improving tiredness which results in better cognitive function. Indirectly they reduce blood pressure and cholesterol level and decrease chances of metabolic syndrome which indirectly help in better function of the brain. Physical exercise also improves mood, concentration, and alertness by changing the levels of serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins. They also help in improving sleep and self-esteem," says Dr Sanjay Pandey, Head, Department of Neurology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
Dr Aditya Gupta suggests a set of exercises that can keep your brain in top shape even at the age of 60-70 and beyond.
- Physical exercise: Better cognitive performance has been related to regular physical activity. Exercises that boost blood flow to the brain, such as yoga, swimming, or walking, can help to maintain brain health.
- Exercises for Brain: To test different cognitive abilities like memory, attention, and reasoning, there are particular brain workouts and applications. These activities might be fun methods to maintain mental alertness.
- Puzzles and mental games: Play brain-training games, crosswords, Sudoku, chess, and other games that involve problem-solving and strategic thinking. Your intellectual capacity will be stretched and challenged by these games.
- Visualization exercises: Exercises that require you to visualise specific situations or things might help with memory recall and mental imagery. This method improves cognitive capacities by stimulating the brain.
- Learning something new: Learn a new skill or take up a new pastime/hobby. It can be attending art lessons, learning a new language, or playing an instrument. The brain can develop new neural connections as a result of novel learning events.
- Social interaction: Spend time with friends, family, and engage in group activities to maintain your social engagement. Social engagement can support the preservation of mental and emotional health.