You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!
Take one of your scent canisters and place it next to your bed. When you wake up in the morning, take a deep whiff from the container. This will change up your morning routine and get new neurons firing in new ways. Activating new neural pathways is a great way to keep your mind in shape.
The sense of smell is one of those underused senses that has a strong connection to memories. You already associate certain smells to certain feelings. For example, the smell of fresh cut grass may be associated with early weekend mornings.
You can easily prepare some scent canisters that contain some of your favorite smells. You can then open the canister to get the scent whenever you want. You could use this to help strengthen certain things that you want to remember, based on the principles of strong associations.
You'll need a film canister or other small airtight container. For scents such as lavender or rosemary, you could crumble the herb into the canister. For liquid scents such as vanilla or citrus, you could put a small piece of sponge inside the container and drop in some of the scent. The scents in these canisters should last several weeks.
The next time you are eating a meal alone, close your eyes and use your senses of smell, taste and touch to experience the meal. Try to identify the foods without seeing them. Notice how texture is a big part of the experience. By blocking out your sense of vision you will be putting more attention toward your other senses, helping strengthen your underused senses.
Hold your nose while you take a bite and you will notice how important the sense of smell is to fully tasting food. This is why foods taste bland when you have a cold.
Mental exercise is one way to help prevent Alzheimer's. Another means of prevention is to remain physically fit throughout life. All of the organs in the body benefit from being physically fit, including the brain. One Harvard study of more than 18,000 participants found that people who got the most exercise showed less mental decline than those with sedentary lifestyles.
Physical exercise increases blood flow to the brain and keeps it working efficiently by stimulating the production of neurotrophins. This is especially true for the hippocampus which is the first area of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease. This increased blood flow and neuronal efficiency can reduce the natural shrinkage that occurs in the brain as it ages. An average person will lose between 15% and 25% of brain cells by the age of 90. Those people who get the most exercise will be at the bottom of that scale, while those people who never exercise will be at the top of that scale.
Several recent studies have shown that mental and physical exercise throughout one's lifetime may significantly reduce the effects of Alzheimer's.
Mental exercises such as crossword puzzles, brain teasers, chess, or card games help keep the mind working in top shape. This helps build what is called a "cognitive reserve." Formal education also helps build a person's cognitive reserve. In fact, each year of education reduces a person's chances of getting Alzheimer's by an average of 17%. Scientists believe this is because people with a large cognitive reserve are better able to adapt as neurons are killed by the disease. The more neural connections you have, the longer it takes for the disease to make a significant impact.
It's important to note that mental exercise cannot help significantly once Alzheimer's has already set in. A person must have a lifetime commitment to learning in order to build up his or her cognitive reserve. It is probably not possible to completely prevent the disease in genetically susceptible people, but it is possible to delay the onset so that it will not occur in the person's lifetime.