You don’t have to look too far to find evidence of brainpower slowing or reducing as you age. According to some experts, it gets harder to stay sharp the older you get. However, that assumption is made on the basis that you don’t take steps to keep your brain in shape. Fortunately, if you want to keep your wits about you as you get older, there are plenty of different things to try. Below we discuss our favourites, which we use ourselves and should be more than capable of keeping anyone on the ball, regardless of how old they happen to be.
1. Try Intermittent Fasting
We’re still not entirely sure whether or not we should consider intermittent fasting as a buzzword. Depending on who you believe, it can help you to lose weight, gain muscle, increase your energy and account for all sorts of positive life changes. We have to admit that we’re on the bandwagon and studies suggest that the latest fasting superpower is improved brain performance. If you decide to restrict your calorific intake, you will encourage the brain to promote neuron growth. The weakening of the mind with age used to be based on the idea that it stopped growing neurons later in life. While this is now considered false, anything you can do to make life easier on your brain should not be ignored.
As for the fasting itself, there are a couple of different approaches. Some people choose to fast for one day each week, avoiding calories for an entire 24-hour period. Others observe a 16-hour fast every day, with their first meal of the day coming no sooner than 16 hours after their first meal on the night before.
2. Get Out and About
It makes perfect sense that a stimulated brain will be a working one, and there is nothing quite like travel to keep it on its toes. The new experiences and challenges will be plenty for the brain to take in, and it needs to ensure that it is capable of coping with and remembering everything it encounters.
3. Try Mnemonic Devices
You may not have considered mnemonic devices for any purpose since the days when you studied for exams. However, they once again promote healthy brain growth as they keep them occupied and give you something to think about. This tip can be as simple or complex as you like as there are plenty of different methods to try. One thing we would always suggest is that you stick with the same technique each time, as this will also act to reinforce your efforts.
4. Learn a Musical Instrument
Much as travel can open up new experiences and difficulties to overcome; the same can be said of a musical instrument. The act of playing an instrument brings multiple senses into play at the same time, and the fact that you’ll quickly associate certain actions with specific results means that the brain has no choice but to work on the creation of new neural networks.
5. Work on your Weaker Hand
Assuming you’re not ambidextrous already, you have a ready-made opportunity to improve brain power by merely undertaking even the simplest tasks with your weaker hand. You’ve probably left it too late to learn to write with the wrong hand, but anything along the lines of brushing your teeth or indeed anything with which you’d usually use your steady hand can be immensely helpful.
6. Expand Your Reading Schedule
There is a reason why books remain massively popular, even in the face of competition from movies, video games and other forms of media. They leave much of the imagery open to the reader’s interpretation, and this naturally puts the brain to work. Even without any kind of conscious effort, you’ll start to visualise characters and scenes. As this is often new information, the brain is forced to put in the effort to keep up.
7. Try a New Word Each Day
Reading the dictionary probably doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of a good time, but you should make a concerted effort to add new words into your vocabulary wherever possible. If you work well with habit-forming, this could mean introducing a new word each day – just make sure you’re clear on the definition if you plan to use your chosen word among those that know what they’re talking about!
8. Get Creative
The chances are that you’ll have a knack for something creative. You might be good at drawing or painting or may still have that novel you’ve always wanted to write inside. Even though your brain is the source of your inspiration, this still counts as a new experience, especially as your creative work evolves. The mind once again needs to strengthen to keep up with these new ‘experiences’ and, regardless of the result, you’ll come out of it with better brain function than when you started.
You may wonder how dancing can have an impact on the brain. Indeed, go to a bar on a Friday night, and you’ll be convinced that the mind has no involvement at all in the way people dance. However, it all comes down to doing something off the cuff once again. Choreography is not your friend here – you want to go freestyle. You’ll use a combination of sense and emotions to match up to the music, and it can lead to genuine benefits.
10. Always Try to Get Enough Sleep
If you have any interest in medical news, you’ll know that the brain can be surprisingly active during sleep, even if your body is completely still. However, rather than directly improving your mind, a good night’s sleep focuses on ensuring that the body has time to recover. If you hope to grow new neural networks, they take time to form and integrate with the rest of the brain. 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night make for the perfect rest period.