Aging and Remaining Mentally Engaged
Many people believe mental decline to be an inevitable aspect of aging; in reality, significant memory lapses may be more often caused by lifestyle factors like stress, depression and an unhealthy diet than by natural aging processes themselves. Simple forgetfulness may occur; however incorporating regular cognitively stimulating activities can delay or prevent more serious conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Studies indicate that people who engage in regular physical and social activity throughout their lives have a lower risk of age-related cognitive decline than those who don’t. Exercise can significantly improve brain health as can eating a diet rich in leafy green vegetables and fruit.
Physical activity not only boosts brain blood flow, but can also strengthen and accelerate neurones’ connections, providing an antidote for natural neuron loss associated with ageing that could otherwise cause mental problems.
Start each day off right by engaging in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity like walking or swimming, which will not only strengthen your muscles but also provide mental benefits like learning something new, playing brain games and reading, or starting an enjoyable hobby such as knitting or painting.
Social engagement is also vitally important to maintaining mental wellness; having a close-knit network of friends and family can provide protection from depression, disability and isolation. Volunteering, community service projects or any form of civic participation also serve as great forms of engagement while simultaneously giving one purposeful activity to do. A regular mindfulness practice (a form of meditation that involves paying attention to the present moment) has been shown to reduce heart rate, improve circulation and sleep patterns while simultaneously strengthening both short-term and long-term memory retention.