Brain Exercises for Sandwiched Boomers

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Yesterday we highlighted a recent study that found conducting Internet searches enhances brain function. Today lets look at additional means of exercising your brain to keep it active and dynamic. Here are some tips to follow:

Exercise your brain with mental aerobics just as you do your body. The Seattle Longitudinal Study found that 66% of older Americans doing brain exercise activities had significant cognitive improvement. Learning new skills increases the number of neural connections in the brain and keeps them firing.

Explore new areas and interests. Have you wanted to learn to play the piano? Take Spanish or learn computer graphics? Check out your neighborhood center, school district or extension courses at a college or university near you. Traveling to new places? Surf the web for information about educational travel in America and throughout the world.

Play word or number games and do crossword or jigsaw puzzles to keep your mind sharp. Researchers believe that these kinds of mental challenges build new neural pathways that help buffer the brain against age-related losses. Injecting novelty into your everyday tasks can have a similar affect. AARP has compiled a list of suggested tasks – for example, you could use your non-dominant hand for brushing your teeth, rearrange the furniture in your rooms, or carry out activities blindfolded.

Dr. Gary Small of UCLA has developed a technique for improving memory – Look, Snap, Connect. First, actively observe what you want to learn; next, create mental snapshots of your memories; finally link your mental snapshots together. This technique can help you remember information ranging from the names of new people you meet to where you parked your car or left your keys.

Develop your creative talents. Scientists have found that, as you challenge yourself to look at things in a new way and try novel behaviors, you exercise important parts of your brain. Women in their middle years have taken up a wide range of creative activities such as painting, acting, writing poetry, photography, making jewelry.

And don’t forget that physical activity helps keep your mental powers sharper too. Plan your schedule so that you can participate regularly. Choose an activity that you enjoy and find engaging — walking with a friend, working out at the gym, biking with your partner. A daily brisk 20 to 30 minute walk will allow you to feel better emotionally and think more clearly.

Increase your physical activities to include aerobics, flexibility and strengthening exercises. Fast walking, jogging, dancing, biking or climbing stairs are all good. Studies indicate that aerobic exercise brings more blood and oxygen to your brain cells, encouraging the growth of new nerve cells and connections between them. Improve your mood, control your weight and protect yourself against cognitive loss all at the same time!

For some ideas about how to identify your strengths and talents, click on the post title above. You will be connected with our article, How to Inventory Your Assets, found on our website,

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