Flex Your Brain, You Need To Look After It
When the mind is active, the brain is protected.
Evidence-based research shows people who take part in
intellectually stimulating activities such as reading,
playing board games or musical instruments have a reduced
risk of dementia. Our brain is our control centre for
memory, emotions, learning and behaviour.
Exercising or challenging the brain is thought to build
reserves of brain cells and enhance brain cell connections,
helping you to stay mentally sharp.
The more mentally demanding the activities, the greater
the benefits. Research strengthens the ‘use it or lose it’
argument by demonstrating that complex and precise brain
activity can build brain reserves that may protect people
from Alzheimer’s disease in later life.
Brain stimulation increases blood flow and metabolism of
specific cortical regions and also supports the cells that
feed neurons. Research is now demonstrating direct links
between mental activity and brain development, as well as
pointing to the beneficial effect of mental activity in
Conversely, research also suggests sensory deprivation,
environmental stimulus deprivation and social deprivation
all contribute to cognitive impairment. Adults with hobbies
that exercise their brain are 2.5 times less likely to have
Alzheimer’s disease. The evidence is clear. Older adults who
engage in mentally-challenging activities are more
Flex your brain – you need to look after it
Cutting-edge research suggests that gathering knowledge
and developing creativity can ensure learning at any age. This is ‘fluid intelligence’
– the measure of the efficiency with which the brain functions through its networks, rather
than the number of acts stored there.
Mental stimulation activates underused nerve pathways and
connections, producing a kind of natural ‘brain fertiliser’
that strengthens and helps nerve connections. The nerve cell
receivers stay younger and stronger.
The benefit is a strong agile mind that can handle mental
challenges such as remembering names, mastering computer
programs or being creative.
The process of learning new information flexes the
memory, and promotes brain growth. It may help delay the
onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The earlier you
start the better.
The most important thing middle-aged adults can do to
enjoy cognitive health in their later years is to commit to
making mental vitality a routine part of each day.
You play mind
games like crosswords, puzzles, chess, draughts and
cards you read bo€oks, newspapers and magazines
letters, a diary, postcards and descriptions of travel
family, friends and others
language or take a course
cultural activities like going to plays, concerts,
museums or galleries
hobbies, like jigsaws, painting, sewing, carpentry
brain-stimulating activities around the house, like
cooking and gardening.
Almost any type
of mental activity may be beneficial, but it should be:
Source: Alzhheimer's Australia NSW