Are You Exercising Your Brain?
Just as research has demonstrated how important physical exercise is to aging well, experts now say there are things we can do to reduce our risk of mental decline, or even reverse it. It's called the mental workout, and as baby boomers search for more ways to enjoy their longevity, interest in it is beginning to explode.
As we age, most of us can live with a little bit of physical decline but we want to maintain our cognitive abilities. So what can we do about it?
Fortunately, brain plasticity studies have shown that the brain can rewire itself into old age, and even add new cells in response to stimulation. Researchers say some people may have a better shot of maintaining their brain health by adopting a few preventive strategies, such as using computer programs, learning a new language, playing chess, doing crossword puzzles, playing scrabble or leaning a new skill or craft.
Learning a new musical instrument, for example, has been found to have a protective effect against cognitive decline, even in those younger than 65, according to the 2001 report "Achieving and Maintaining Cognitive Vitality With Aging," sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Aging and the International Longevity Center-USA, among others.