By Jennifer Hastings / Divine Caroline
When it comes to our brains, it’s use ’em or lose ’em. No matter how clever we are, or how many degrees or fancy titles we have, none of that can prevent us from losing our memory and other mental abilities later in life. Our brains — just like our bodies — need exercise in order to stay sharp and healthy.
When we exercise our brains, we activate nerve cells and cause them to make their own “fertilizer.” This fertilizer, or brain reserve, strengthens nerve cells, keeping them resistant to the assaults of old age.
Steve Gillman of IncreaseBrainPower.com, has been studying brainpower and related topics for years. Gillman explained, “Learning new things and doing basic brain exercises produces new neurons and new connections between the neurons of the brain. This is referred to as neuroplasticity, and the idea that you can continue to improve the brain — or at least slow the normal brain function decline associated with age — is now considered a scientific fact.”
Gillman mentioned recent research conducted by Dr. Joe Verghese and his colleagues at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Working with Syracuse University, Verghese and his team studied 469 subjects who were seventy-five years old or older. They found mental exercise such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing reduced the incidence (or delayed the onset) of dementia of many types, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Health experts also recommend eating brain-healthy foods, getting lots of exercise, and having full, uninterrupted sleep each night. However, for those of us who live somewhat imperfectly, but still want to keep our minds sharp, these simple exercises may be just what the doctor ordered … or even better.
Do the opposite.
Giving our dominant hand a rest ignites our neural pathways. Experts recommend using our opposite hand for brushing our teeth and hair, drinking our coffee, playing with our iPod, or any other activities where we usually use our dominant hand. We may feel a little uncoordinated, but we’ll be more focused concentrating on the activity rather than robotically going through the moves.