201119 Maintaining mental sharpness

201119 Maintaining mental sharpness

Use it or lose it applies to most things in life. This principle applies equally to both physical and mental abilities since each aspect declines without daily challenges. It is common knowledge that if the muscles and cardiovascular systems aren’t subjected to an appropriate level of intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise they will slowly deteriorate. The same holds true for our mental capabilities. If they aren’t used, they also decline.

Physical exercise enhances your vitality just as mental stimulation can increase your minds ability to adapt to new situations and circumstances. But you’ve got to use it to achieve the positive benefits.

The aging process affects the brain in subtle ways. As we get older, the mental processing takes longer. It may even be true that it is harder to learn new things. Our recall of stored information is slower; it is harder to remember names, faces, and other factual information. We even find it more difficult to focus on accomplishing multiple tasks. Getting more than one or two different things done is not as easy as it was when we were younger because it’s more difficult to divide our attention. 

Cognitive stimulation, exercise for your brain, has been found to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Do you read a lot? Listen to the radio, do crossword puzzles, or play cards or checkers? Are you stimulating your brain? If not then get going.

In a study conducted in late November of 2002, the participants were taught deliberate cognitive techniques that helped to improve their memory, concentration, and problem solving abilities. Two years later, these skills remained with this group.

There is enough information supporting the use of mental exercise to ward off age related declines in mental sharpness that it behooves an individual to stay mentally active. 

Keeping your brainpower and your physical conditioning in top-notch condition requires time and effort. Increased lean muscle, a healthier heart and circulatory system and respiratory capabilities all come with effort. So does maintaining and increasing your mental capabilities. Neither one will come about if all your spare time is spent in front of the television or computer.

Here are a few suggestions to preserve and even increase your mental potential.

  • Stay involved with your family, friends, and community. Be an active member of one of your favorite organizations, volunteer or even start a new job. You will never know what you can do until you try it.
  • Explore new ideas and the world on the internet, sign up for an online class on a topic you have always wanted to know more about.
  • Try a new hobby, sport or join a book club.
  • Switch from your dominant hand to the weak hand in activities such as brushing your teeth, playing ping-pong, tennis, and pool. Nearly everything can be more challenging to your brain if done with the less dominate hand.
  • Use your mind to create new ideas and then draw them out on paper.
  • Stand on both feet for two to three minutes just thinking. After that is easy to do then do it on one foot. Practice this near something sturdy in case you start to fall and need to reach out to stabilize yourself.
  • Practice deep breathing or meditation exercises.

Do something to keep your brain challenged, you will be rewarded with a higher quality of life for doing so. In reality, the saying of use it or lose it really is true. Never give up on making yourself better. Do something positive for yourself every single day.

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