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We all have that neighbor or family member who is 90+ years old and still sharp as a tack. And don’t we all want to be that person too one day?! With aging comes some level of cognitive decline but there are so many things you can do now, whether you are 15, 40 or 75 years old to keep blood flowing to the brain, reduce inflammation to enhance neuron connections and stimulate hormones that keep us happy and motivated. Here are our top recommended activities to boost brain function. Choose at least one to do every day!

  1.  Fitness Activities: Physical exercise not only benefits your body but also provides cognitive benefits. Engage in activities that require coordination, balance, and concentration, such as tai chi, longevity stick, yoga or dance. St. Jude Wellness Center offers all of these modalities as part of our Meaningful Movement series of classes offered each week to enhance the mind-body connection of all of our fitness members, no matter what program they attend or condition they are managing.
    1. Tai Chi or Longevity Stick: These ancient Chinese practices emphasizes slow, controlled movements that promote mind-body connection and improve cognitive function. It is a great option for individuals of all fitness levels.
    2. Yoga: Practicing yoga can improve focus, reduce stress, and enhance mental clarity. It combines movement, balance, and mindfulness, making it an excellent choice for brain health.
    3. Dance: Dancing not only creates a cognitive challenge to follow along with the choreography, but also increases heart rate to improve cardiovascular function, which in turn pumps more nutrient-dense blood to the brain!
  2. Social Activities: Staying socially active is crucial for brain health, as it stimulates communication skills, memory, and problem-solving abilities. Consider participating in these social activities:
    1. Book Clubs: Joining a book club allows you to engage in stimulating discussions, enhance reading comprehension, and expand your knowledge.
    2. Group Skill Classes: Take group classes in subjects that interest you, such as cooking, painting, or language learning. Engaging with others in a learning environment promotes social interaction while challenging your brain.
    3. Game Groups: From Chess to Bridge and Poker to Bunco, games of strategy can challenge our brains to form new neural connections while also creating a social environment for fun and stimulating interactions.
  3. Stress Release Activities: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on cognitive function. Stress-release activities should be a part of a daily practice in order to coach your brain into responding to stress in a healthy way automatically. Some ideas:
    1. Meditation: Practicing mindfulness meditation helps reduce stress, increase focus, and improve memory. Apps like Headspace and Calm offer guided meditation sessions to get you started. You can also find meditation in movement such as mindful walks or yoga. If sitting and breathing isn’t your thing, consider a bubble bath or sound bath where your external environment prompts relaxation.
    2. Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere and anytime, promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving mental clarity. We have some videos here to get you started at home, or consider a Yoga Therapy session for personalized private support.
  4. Brain Games: Sharpen your mental acuity by incorporating brain games into your routine. These games challenge different cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, problem-solving, and processing speed. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. Lumosity: Lumosity offers a wide variety of brain-training games that target different cognitive skills. It provides personalized training programs to meet your specific needs.
    2. Peak: Peak is another popular brain-training app that offers a collection of fun and challenging games designed to boost memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.
    3. Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles: Engaging in traditional pen-and-paper puzzles like Sudoku and crossword puzzles can help improve memory, critical thinking, and concentration.

Whether you are managing a chronic cognitive condition or are simply trying to stay sharp for the long run, incorporating activities that challenge your brain is an excellent way to boost cognitive function, improve memory, and maintain mental agility. Whether it’s engaging in fitness activities, socializing, practicing stress-release techniques, or playing brain games, the key is to find activities that you enjoy and that create just a bit of a challenge. Make it a habit to incorporate these activities into your daily routine and witness the positive impact on your overall brain health. Stay curious, be proactive, and enjoy the journey of keeping your mind sharp and active.