Declining brain health is one of the scarier aspects of aging. It leaves people who are otherwise healthy dependent, confused and often prone to injury. So it’s important to take care of our brains as much as we do the rest of our bodies. It’s never too early to start. For example, if you train your brain to learn new things, it lowers your risk for certain mental decline.
Through research with mice and humans, scientists have found that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological “plasticity” and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.
Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try “mental gymnastics,” such as word puzzles or math problems Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.
Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind. Animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought.