When you hear about the importance of improving cognitive function, you may think about older adults who are trying to ward off serious conditions like Alzheimer's disease. Actually, it is important to take steps to boost your cognitive fitness at any age, not just after retirement. Fortunately, there are a number of enjoyable ways to encourage your brain to generate new synapses and neurons.
Getting outside and enjoying a scenic walk can do more than burn calories. it can also lead to measurable positive changes in your brain. Hiking for 90 minutes has been found to improve your memory, as well as reduce anxiety and make you happier. Google local hiking trails and choose some that match your current physical condition. For example, if you are new to hiking, start with a flat area that does not have steep hills.Â
If you are older and concerned about your safety while hiking, you can either go out with a friend and/or invest in a Lively Mobile medical alert device from GreatCall. This medical alert system is easy to wear and can clip on a pocket or it can be worn around your neck, and its built-in patented GPS technology can quickly and accurately confirm your location. This is especially comforting when hiking in an unfamiliar location. In addition, the device offers a fall detection service that will automatically call for help if it detects that you have fallen. As a bonus, the device is waterproof, so if you get caught in a downpour while hiking, the medical alert device will still work.
Solving puzzles is another great way to boost your cognitive function. The key is to choose puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku, cryptograms or brain teasers that you enjoy so you will be more likely to actually do them. If you typically do the Sunday crossword in the paper, branch out a bit and try a new type of brain teaser each week; you can usually find paperback books filled with puzzles at the grocery store and you can also download them online.
Another way to get your brain to make some new connections is to learn a musical instrument. Maybe you have always wanted to play the piano, or you get a kick out of hearing your elementary school kiddo practice his recorder at home. No matter if you are 30, 50 or 80, it is never too late to learn. Start by visiting a local music school to see what types of lessons they offer for adults, or search for music teachers online for private or or group lessons.
There are a number of hobbies that will give your brain a boost at any age; the secret is to choose an activity that requires learning instead of sitting and watching. For example, becoming a basketball fan and watching NBA games on TV will not have the same impact on your brain as becoming a stamp or coin collector, learning to sew or crochet, setting up and growing an organic garden or teaching yourself sign language. Don't "force" yourself into a hobby simply because your BFF loves it. In order for this strategy to work, you must embrace something that you truly love. If possible, read books or take classes relating to your new hobby; for instance, sign up for a gourmet cooking class or check out books from the library about gardening.
Feeling lonely and being cooped up in the house can lead to cognitive decline. To combat any feelings of isolation that you might have and keep your brain happy and healthy, make it a point to interact with others as often as you can. For moms of new babies, joining a Moms' Club is a terrific way to make new friends and have meaningful conversations with others. Other ideas include regular coffee or lunch dates with friends, inviting your neighbor over for lemonade and cookies, going to worship services and staying for the social hour afterwards, and calling relatives regularly to check in and chat.
Regardless of how old you are, it's never too late to improve cognitive function. Consider taking up one of these hobbies or tips in order boost your brain power.