While most commonly associated with exercising our muscles, the phrase "use it or lose it" also applies to our minds. If we don't use our muscles regularly, they get stiff, flabby, and weak. The same goes for our brains. Research shows that brain-stimulating activities, like learning a new language or picking up knitting, can boost your cognitive health.
You can care for your brain just by doing the things you're interested in, and doing them often.
Have you ever thought about what exactly "cognitive health" means? It's your ability to think clearly, learn new information, and remember important details and memories. When your brain is cognitively healthy, it can perform all of these necessary processes.
Like our physical bodies, our brains need to be stimulated and worked often. Research suggests that engaging your mind has serious brain-protecting benefits. Here are a few activities that have been associated with improving cognition:
- Learning a new skill like a language, playing an instrument, or painting
- Reading books, magazines, and newspapers
- Playing games and doing crossword puzzles
- Taking or teaching a class
When you think about improving your cognitive health, know that you can care for your brain just by doing the things you're interested in, and doing them often. It's not all about brain puzzles and memory exercises (but feel free to throw these in if you're up for it).
- Alzheimers.org.uk. (2019). How to reduce your risk of dementia. [online] Available at: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/... Institute on Aging (2020). Cognitive Health and Older Adults. [online] National Institute on Aging. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults#mind
- Park, D. C., Lodi-Smith, J., Drew, L., Haber, S., Hebrank, A., Bischof, G. N., & Aamodt, W. (2014). The impact of sustained engagement on cognitive function in older adults: the synapse project. Psychological science, 25(1), 103-112.
- Tennstedt, S. L., & Unverzagt, F. W. (2013). The ACTIVE study: study overview and major findings. Journal of aging and health, 25(8 Suppl), 3S‚Äì20S. doi:10.1177/0898264313518133