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Challenge Your Brain

When it comes to strengthening your brain, it’s all about challenge. It’s about “stretching” your brain, and encouraging your neurons to reach further than they did yesterday.

People who regularly and frequently (not “every now and then”) engage in mentally challenging activities are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Below are just a few ways to sharpen your brain and give it the workout it craves.

Read more. Whether you take up reading the newspaper or James Patterson novels, read twice as much as you normally do. Websites count also. Seek out subjects that are new to you, and embrace variety: history, science, literature, poetry. Just read.

Play a game. Dominoes, Trivia Pursuit, Monopoly, Chess – they’re all mentally stimulating and can sharpen your brain (especially if you haven’t played them in a while). Learning a NEW game is even more beneficial. Even video games can improve logical thinking, spatial visualization, and the ability to resolve emotional conflict. The key, again, is variety.

Surprise your brain! Our minds LOVE to be caught off guard – and when they’re caught off guard, they’re stimulated and challenged. These surprises can include taking a different route home or to the store, using your non-dominant hand to eat, etc.

Be sure you get enough activity. It isn’t necessary to take up jogging or start working out at a gym. Any physical activity increases the blood supply to the brain and improves activity between brain cells. Your brain won’t know if you’re moving because you’re doing housework or because you’re on the treadmill– all it knows is that you are moving, and it likes it.

Choose brain-healthy foods. It’s easy to follow this simple rule: If the food is healthy for your heart, it’s healthy for your brain. Some tips include: grill or bake food instead of frying it, eat colorful fruit and vegetables, and add nuts to your diet, especially walnuts and almonds.

Deal with stress in a healthy way. Stress and anxiety are harmful to our brains. Finding a way to relax and handle stress does more than enhance your quality of life; it can also extend your life, prevent premature aging, and reduce the risk of dementia.

Get enough sleep. Experts recommend that adults get approximately seven hours of sleep each night. Though we may think of lack of sleep as simply being annoying or inconvenient, it can have serious adverse effects on our health and safety. If you have persistent problems sleeping, consult your doctor.

Source: December 14, 2015. “Strengthen Your Brain: It’s Easier Than You Think and More Important Than You Realize. Out of Bounds.