How To Keep Your Brain Fit as You Age

June 2024

As people age, they begin to worry not just about their physical health but also about their mental health, specifically, if there’s anything they can do to preserve their memory and cognitive functioning. It turns out, the old adage of “use it or lose it” applies to your mental health as well as your physical health — especially as you age. Here are four fun ways to keep your brain fit as you age.

  1. Engage in activities that require hand-eye coordination. Hand-eye coordination is one aspect of mental functioning that often gets overlooked when people think of cognitive health. But hand-eye coordination is something that tends to diminish with age. To keep your skills sharp, find an activity you enjoy that keeps this skill sharp. It could be something physical — like pickleball, tennis, or tai chi. It could also be something more sedentary, like painting or knitting.
  2. Learn a foreign language. Listening to and speaking a foreign language stimulates the brain in novel ways. A meta-analysis published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review found that people who spoke a second language were at lower risk of developing dementia and tended to develop symptoms at an older age. Taking a language class is a great way to get out, meet people, and grow your language skills.
  3. Learn to cook a new cuisine. Cooking classes are a great way to meet new people, expand your diet, and use parts of your brain that you may not always use. Then, when you try to recreate a meal at home, you’ll need to use a variety of mental skills — planning, organizing, problem-solving, and multitasking.
  4. Make music. Studies published in the journal Gerontologist found positive cognitive benefits — including lower rates of depression and anxiety — in aging folks who played a musical instrument or sang in a choir.

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