Use It or Lose It: An Active Mind is a Healthy Mind

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Couple playing chess in living room smiling

When we think about our health and fitness, we usually think about our muscles and bones and our heart, and everything we need to do to keep them working in top form. But did you know that your brain is a muscle too?

Often, the memory loss and loss of mental acuity associated with aging is not a natural part of aging at all. It’s simply a result of not staying mentally active. The old saying is true: use it or lose it!

To keep your mind active and healthy, here are some ways you can challenge it.

It is easy to keep your mind busy and to come up with activities to keep it functioning at a high level. When you do a physical activity and exercise, you’re not only challenging your muscles, you’re challenging your mind too. Playing mind games that encourage you to think is another technique. Even learning a new skill can challenge your mind. This could be the perfect time to sign up for that class you always wanted to take but couldn’t justify spending the time. Here are some more ideas.

1) Start scrapbooking. Not only does scrapbooking challenge your mind to think creatively, it reinforces those memory skills. It will also keep your interest and train your brain to focus on an activity for a length of time.

2) Play games. Crosswords puzzles, Sudoku, checkers or chess can challenge your mind too. These mind games force you to look at things from different perspectives, which is a brain-building activity.

3) Exercise. We’ve mentioned that exercise is a good way to challenge your brain. Activities like Pilates and Yoga are gentle on the body but they also require a great degree of mental focus. Exercise your brain while you move your body. Going for a walk or taking a low-impact aerobics class is also a great brain workout.

4) Get together with your friends. Socializing is not only enjoyable, it’s a mental activity. As we get older, we sometimes lose connections with family and friends. Now you have one more reason to meet with them – to keep your mind active. If they aren’t able to meet with you, look for a group or club you can join for some social interaction. Experts recommend engaging in social activities at least once a week, possibly more.

5) Find a hobby. Engaging in a hobby you enjoy can also keep the mind sharp. It might be gardening, woodworking, or even writing your memoirs. The important thing is that you do it. You will have fun and also keep your mind healthy.

Looking after your mind is an important part of your overall health and fitness. By challenging your brain with some of the above ideas, you will keep your mind active. An active mind is a healthy mind.