Most of us have heard about the benefits of brain exercise. When we’re kids, reading, writing, games and other mentally stimulating activities help build healthy brains as we grow up. As we age, these activities may continue to help us preserve our memory and cognitive abilities well into our later years.
Research has shown that people who participate in mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives have a slower decline in memory. That’s true even if their brains showed signs associated with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other conditions.
How to Improve Brain Health
An article from AARP explains that reading is fantastic for your brain – but there’s a slight catch! “Literary fiction (think Toni Morrison or F. Scott Fitzgerald) has the most benefits,” said one article. “Newspapers, magazines, popular fiction (think Tom Clancy and Gillian Flynn), and nonfiction books don’t have as strong an influence on the brain.”
The payoff for reading literature? Besides improved memory and mental abilities, says AARP, “Those who read for about 30 minutes a day also lowered their overall risk of death by 20 percent.”
There’s also proof that “playing cards or board games, … knitting or painting, and chatting with friends are also good for your brain health,” says AARP. In a study of people age 70 and older, anywhere from 14% to 30% of those who participated in those activities showed less mild cognitive impairment over about four years, as compared to those who did not.
Work On Brain Health With Your Grandkids!
While it’s never too late to add brain-healthy activities to our routine, it is also never too early! During pandemic-related restrictions, lots of grandparents have been playing games and reading with their grandkids over Zoom calls. Whether it’s on a call or in person, doing these actvities together will benefit both of you!