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Feed Our Brains by Challenging Them

Feeding our brains is just as important as feeding our bodies. Of course the food we eat has a lot to do with the way our brain functions but research and facts for that are for another blog. Today I want to talk about feeding our brain by challenging it.

If we want to keep our brain active and healthy then we need to challenge it every opportunity we have. Because I've had two parents live and die through Dementia/Alzheimer's, I've made it a habit to challenge my brain every day. One of the biggest reason's I work on this website/blog every day is to keep my brain active. Finding topics to research and pulling together stories is a great way to keep our brains active.

Challenging our brains with daily mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise for our bodies. Like pumping weights or going for a walk strengthens our muscle, our brains improve with use. Living a life-long learning lifestyle actually improves brain function over time and helps lower risk of developing memory problems as we get older.

Exercising our brain increases "cognitive reserves" which is the idea that our brains develop a thinking reserve abilities during our lives and helps protect against losses that occur through aging or disease. The cognitive reserve hypothesis gives hope that constant exposure to stimulating activities can help us age with less impact on our brain functions.

Here are a few ways to challenge our brains so that we can build cognitive reserves:

  • Playing games - great options are Sudoku, Crosswords, Word Scrambles, Jigsaw Puzzles and Tetris. Both paper and digital versions will work

  • Learning something new - take this opportunity to learn a new language, new hobby, or take some courses at local college that you have always wanted to take

  • Reading - both for fun and learning new things. Books are great but it can also be a magazine, newspaper, audio books or on-line blog reading

  • Challenge your technical skills - technology is changing at the fastest rate it ever has and keeping up with it allows our brains to keep sharp. The new cellphone we just bought has so many more features that our previous one, therefore take the tutorials to learn what it can do. Learn a new computer program like how to build a website and keep moving your brain forward with technology

  • Try a new hobby - if you love to paint, try playing an instrument and bring music to the brain. Join a cooking, photography, crafting, pottery, or any other hobby that interest you. Not only will you learn something new but mingling with new people allows to stay active. If we really want to stretch our brains then choosing more complex activities that we may struggle to achieve will push our brains more and helps build reserves

  • Changing routines - I used to get up and first thing I did would open all the blinds in the house then turn on the coffee maker. It was ingrained in my brain and I started with the same window every morning. Today I do something different every morning so I'm not on auto-pilot. This also goes for everything we do. Don't take the same way home every day. Change it up and activate new pathways in the brain to build cognitive reserves

The key thing is to push our brains to learn something new. Studies show doing tasks that feel difficult like problem solving, learning a new activity, having a debate with a friend have a positive impact to our cognitive reserve. Therefore let's keep challenging our brains on a daily bases so we can be more successful at keeping our memories and functionalities as we age. Live life well always!

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