14 Research-Proven Ways To Boost Brain Power
Until just a few years ago, doctors believed that the brain stopped making new neural connections – meaning that the memory began to get irreversibly worse – when the body stopped developing, usually in the early 20s. And doctors knew that, like any other part of the body, neurons weaken as people age. Loss of brain function due to neural breakdown was assumed to be a normal, unavoidable part of aging. It turns out they were wrong.
In the past few years, it has become clear that you can, in fact, make new neurons starting in your 20s and continuing well into old age. You can literally rewire the brain with new parts as the older parts wear out. How?
There are lots of things you can do right now to preserve, protect and enhance your gray matter.
A healthy body really does mean a healthy mind. In the last decade it became clear that regular exercise beneficially affects brain function. Exercise boosts brain power by stimulating formation of new brain cells (neurons), the process known as neurogenesis2. Also, exercise strengthens connections between those cells. Researchers have found the areas of the brain that are stimulated through exercise are associated with memory and learning1.
Physical exercise may even help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Several studies7–9 have confirmed that regular physical activity reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in old age.
2Lifelong learning – your brain is a learning machine
For most of us, after we graduate from high school or college, our pursuit of new knowledge bottoms out over time. We may be masters at what we do, but we aren't learning new things. There is clear evidence10–11 that education and learning produce favourable changes in the brain. Researchers believe that intellectual activity play a neuroprotective role against dementia. Some studies suggest that having a low level of formal education and poor linguistic skills is a risk factor for cognitive decline in later life.
But if you continue to learn and challenge yourself, your brain continues to grow, literally. Recent research12 have demonstrated that learning over time enhances memory and the survival of new brain cells. An active brain produces new connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another. This helps your brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter what your age.
How can you challenge yourself? Scientists agree that anything that is new and expands your knowledge will be effective:
- Learning to play a musical instrument
- Switching careers or starting a new one
- Starting a new hobby, such as crafts, painting, biking or bird-watching
- Learning a foreign language. According to the latest study speaking more than one language may slow the aging process in the mind.
- Staying informed about what's going on in the world
- Learning to cook new dish
If you let your brain be idle, it's not going to be in the best health.
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