Keep learning new things
Learning new information and skills throughout your entire life helps to keep your brain strong even in the later years of life. Activities that have the highest value for brain health are those that are novel and complex to each particular person. What is easy for one person may be challenging for another, so the things that challenge you the most have the most value for your brain.
It is the novel and complex that will challenge the brain, stimulate learning, and promote synaptic density, decreasing the likelihood that neurodegenerative disease will manifest. With practice of an activity or skill, your synaptic density increases, and what was once novel and complex can easily become rote and passive. Therefore, continually learning new things will ensure your brain is always expanding and staying sharp!
If you need inspiration, try this mental stimulation exercise. This activity is designed to help you understand what is personally novel and complex for you, versus what is rote and passive.
- Take out a sheet of paper, and divide the paper in half.
- In the left column, list five activities that you enjoy and have fun with, and do most frequently. This list represents activities that are rote and passive. Your mind is already comfortable with these activities, which lessens the benefit they have on your brain.
- In the right column, list five activities that you find complicated, and don’t engage in frequently. This list represents activities your brain has not yet formed strong neural connections with; they are the complex and novel. These activities will likely benefit the development of new connections in your brain. Here are some more brain-boosting exercises to try.
Exercise has the positive effect of enhancing successful aging. Exercise performed on a routine basis may not only reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease, but also may help to slow the course of an existing disease, such as Alzheimer’s.
Exercise can improve our energy levels, sense of well-being, sleep, and brain health. Engaging in regular exercise also reduces the risk of depression and anxiety. Identifying why we do not exercise permits us to systematically break down our barriers, and to slowly change our behaviors towards a healthy lifestyle. Learn more about why exercise is great for your brain.