Mental exercises can lead to having a healthy mind

Mental exercises can lead to having a healthy mind

Recharge your mind with mental exercises

“There is a fountain of youth. It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this resource, you have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

Mental exercises can lead to having a healthy mind, being alert, having a sense of control and being productive.

John E. Morley and Sheri R. Colberg, authors of The Science of Staying Young, suggest a number of brain exercises for a healthier mind. Here are a few of them:

* Challenge yourself to memorize any sort of list; make it as challenging as possible. For me, this involves building my Spanish vocabulary on a daily basis.

* Pick out objects to observe and then draw. My wife, Jacqueline, and I often do this when we travel. I think I will start taking on this task regularly in my daily journal.

* Read challenging books and articles including nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and more. I am fortunate to have this practice as a byproduct of my regular classroom teaching.

* Do something new each day that requires you to think. For me, it involves writing for the blog my web site or coming up with new strategies to improve my teaching.

According to Keith Robertson, experienced medical writer, engaging in brain training or mental exercises may possibly decrease your chances of getting dementia.

More mental exercises to increase brain power

In addition to mental exercises, Gene Cohen, writing in The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, recommends the following types of activity to increase your brainpower.

* Get enough physical activity. Studies show that physical exercise, particularly aerobics, is linked to increased brain power. Rigorous exercise increases blood to the brain, produces endomorphins, filters waste products, and increases brain oxygen level. According to Live Science.com, "scientists are starting to think that regular exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for the long-term health of your brain."

* Get involved in challenging leisure activities. According to Cohen, the right leisure activities can stem the tide of dementia and cognitive decline. These include dancing, playing board games, play musical instruments, doing crossword puzzles and reading.

* Take control of yourself and master something. Research shows that mid lifers who exercise a sense of control and mastery benefit from better health than those who do not. Learn to play a musical instrument, learn a foreign language (which I do) or take an art class (which my wife, Jacqueline, does). Any one of these activities could improve your attitude on life as well as your immune system.

* Nourish your social relationships. Cohen claims it can lower blood pressure as well as stress levels. These benefits could help you avoid the risk of stroke and lower your chances of anxiety and depression.

Tips from for improving your memory

Here are other mental exercises you can perform.

- Pay attention to what you need to learn,
- Process information according to your learning style,
- Use as many of your senses as possible,
- Connect information to knowledge you have already learned,
- Organize information through words or mind maps.

In my e book, Take Charge of Midlife and Beyond: 52 Ideas and Activities for Dealing with Life's Challenges - Aging, Change, Financial Matters, and More!, I recommend this Four-Step exercise.

1. Choose a suggestion in the article, such as memorizing a list of things, drawing an object, or doing a challenging leisure activity.

2. Practice focusing on the behavior you'd like to improve. Do it as often as you can, preferably each day.

3. Ask yourself how often you practiced this week. If yes, were you able to focus on the goal? If not, what prevented you from practicing?

4. At the end of each day take five to ten minutes to think about how you did. What did you notice about yourself? Are you pleased with how things went? What could you do better?

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