Posted on June 15, 2012 at 3:28 PM
Friday, Jun 15 at 5:38 PM
SAN ANTONIO -- As we age, it’s important to keep our bodies in good shape. But experts say you can also perform exercises for your mind to keep your brain functioning well, too.
You’ve heard the phrase “use it or lose it.” That may help when it comes to longtime brain health as well as physical fitness. It’s not just exercising, but mental workouts that will help us live better longer.
Dr. Neela Patel is a geriatrician with San Antonio’s UT Medicine. She said old age mental acuity is often tied to brain stimulation.
“I think that changing and challenging your mind and mental exercises, it’s not just when you’ve grown older,” Patel stated. “I think it’s something you need to do when you are young.”
The simplicity of changing it up may surprise you. Suggestions include:
- brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand
- turning the pictures in your house upside down to make your brain work harder
- attempting to read a book upside down
- crossing your arms the opposite way you normally do
- switching your watch from the usual arm to the other
- writing your name backwards
- watching the television with the sounds turned down, following the action by the visuals only
Meanwhile, physical fitness will help the brain, too. “Because when you’re active physically, it also calms your mind, relieves you of stress, and it also is good for your mind,” Patel added.
“I always tell my older patients you can retire from work,” she said, “but don’t retire from life and don’t retire your mind.”
Some research suggests that tweaking your daily routines in minor ways keeps you out of a mental rut. You may benefit later with better concentration, memory and visual skills.