Boosting Your Brain

A few selections from “23 Ways to Boost Your Brain”:

Bored Student“1. Take a French class. Learning a second language can help your brain process information better and help you focus more sharply so you avoid distraction. It may even delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in some people, according to exciting new research from Singapore Management University. One easy way to parlez Francais (or any new language) is with an app. With Duolingo, Apple’s iPhone App of the Year in 2013, you can learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish and several other languages.

“3.Play ping-pong. Table tennis has long been lauded for its ability to improve attention and concentration. Japanese researchers also found that in players older than 50, ping-pong improved brain function by activating specific neurons, and showed promise in preventing dementia as well. (Plus, it’s lots of fun!)

“4.Close your eyes. Research from the University of Surrey in the U.K. found that closing your eyes while recalling an event could help you remember details 23 percent more accurately. How does it work? It’s thought that once visual distractions are removed, your brain focuses more efficiently.
5.Brush your teeth with your other hand. Using your non-dominant side to tackle a daily task or two is a great way to challenge your brain to act in new ways. If you’re a righty, switching to your left hand can sharpen your cognitive function by spurring your brain cells to produce growth-stimulating molecules.

“7.Do a daily meditation. In just eight weeks, a daily mindfulness break can improve connectivity throughout the brain network in 55- to 90-year-olds, according to ongoing research from Wake Forest University. What’s more, meditation may slow Alzheimer’s progression and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol within the brain.

“18.Find your sleep sweet spot. “Getting good sleep is the best thing you can do for your brain long term,” Emmons stresses. “It improves your mood and clears out your mind.” The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night for adults ages 18 to 64, and seven to eight hours for adults 65 and older.
19.Start a Pinterest page. Thinking of learning to knit, growing roses or making your own wreath? There are pages and pages of projects on Pinterest.com, where people save creative ideas on virtual bulletin boards. Pursuing new ideas that interest you is a powerful way to exercise your brain. Curious folks have lower rates of dementia, says Alter.

“21.Don’t skip your morning coffee. A Johns Hopkins study found that regular consumption of 200 milligrams of caffeine—the amount in one strong cup of coffee—has a positive impact on how much you remember for a full 24 hours after drinking.

“22.Hang out with friends and family. Social connections benefit brain cell health, experts say. Have lunch with your friends, take your grandchildren trick-or-treating or go for a long walk with your partner.

“23.Look on the bright side. Make a point to regularly ask yourself, “What if everything went right instead of wrong?” Positive thinking can actually activate your brain’s physical ability to adapt and change. Former President Jimmy Carter, 91, who responded to his recent cancer diagnosis with “optimism, vitality and determination,” is a great example of this, Emmons says.”

Read on for the rest of the tips:
Lisa Mulcahy. “23 Ways to Boost Your Brain” Parade Health, October 2, 2015.

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