A 2006 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health indicates that doing certain brain exercises can improve reasoning and memory. In the past, hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities have used brain games and other mental exercises to help the elderly or those suffering from brain damage maintain and improve brain function.
Now the concept of a brain gym has moved into the mainstream. There are workout facilities dedicated solely to keeping the brain healthy, such as the Mind Spa Mental Fitness Center in Florida, as well as regular gyms that have added special brain gym facilities, such as Nifty After Fifty in California. Memberships run about $50 per month, and many members report being satisfied with the results, despite the significant price tag.
Do-It-Yourself Brain Health
If you're not ready to cough up $50 a month to join a brain gym, never fear. There are things you can do at home to keep your brain healthy and active. Here's a list of 7 of things to ponder:
- Play brain games at home on the AARP website
- Feed your brain with blue-green algae with cell wall removed, one of the only nutrients proven to pass through the blood-brain barrier and nourish the brain
- Socialize with friends: studies show that people with active social lives have reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia
- Do cognitive exercises: a study at Duke University indicates that performing cognitive tasks that create new associations in the brain will keep your mind sharp. These include getting dressed in the dark, putting your watch on the opposite wrist, or brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
- Moderate your drinking: heavy drinking (14 or more alcoholic drinks per week) shrinks your brain, so drink less for a healthier brain.
- Dance! Studies indicate that physical exercises requiring coordination, such as dancing, preserve brain cells and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.
- Do good: volunteering is an excellent way to stay sharp mentally. Volunteers experience lower levels of stress as well as increase their cognitive and communication skills, all of which gives the brain a boost.
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