6 things to include in your daily routine to maintain brain fitness as you age

We all want to age gracefully. We will do anything to make it happen. From eating for heart health to deciding what exercise to focus on or improving vision, most people know that maintaining many aspects of physical health is important for longevity. Something you may not think about regularly is your brain fitness as you age.

Cognition declines over time due to many factors, such as age-related structural changes, brain injuries or excess stress hormones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in nine American adults over the age of 65 reports cognitive decline.

“The parts of our brain that help us learn and remember information may become smaller and the brain may also lose weight as we age,” said Colleen Marshall, chief clinical officer of Two Chairs.

Although we will all experience changes in health as we age, cognitive decline does not occur at the same rate for everyone. By prioritizing brain fitness now, you can help slow the change and keep your brain sharp as you age.

Start doing these 6 things to nourish your brain for healthy aging

solve puzzles

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We'll start with the easiest strategy to integrate into your daily life: puzzles. Solving puzzles can benefit the brain in many ways, from improving memory to boosting problem-solving skills.

“They may slow the rate of cognitive decline and how fast brain size decreases with aging,” Marshall said.

A study published in the journal Neurology suggests that playing games such as checkers or completing jigsaw puzzles can delay the onset of Alzheimer's by about five years. Various research supports the idea that solving crossword puzzles or journaling may reduce the risk of dementia.

Experts suggest that puzzles help prevent cognitive decline because they expand the brain's cognitive reserve, or ability to solve and deal with problems. Activities to try include putting together jigsaw puzzles or solving other types of puzzles, such as sudoku, crosswords, memory games, and math problems.

learn a new skill

Like stimulating the brain by playing games or solving puzzles, learning a new skill has both short-term and long-term benefits. By learning a new skill, you are strategically activating multiple parts of your brain at once. You're also promoting neuroplasticity by forming new pathways and strengthening those connections while honing skills.

It could be learning a new language, painting or trying a new sport. Just make sure it's challenging or complex, and keep practicing for best brain results.

old man drawing still life old man drawing still life

Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

prioritize sleep

Sleep is one of the most important things for your body. While I'm not saying there's a right or wrong way to sleep, research shows that how much sleep you get and the quality of your sleep affects your risk of dementia. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, one night of sleep deprivation can age your brain.

A lot goes on in the brain while we sleep, including flushing out toxins and forming new neural pathways. If you don't get enough sleep, your brain doesn't get time to perform these functions and cognition is affected.

Establishing a bedtime routine can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. From reading a book to practicing yoga before bed, incorporating relaxation into your night can help promote your sleep.

Pay attention to your nutrition

What you eat will also affect the rate of cognitive decline you experience as you age. Studies have found that people who follow the Mediterranean and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diets have less risk of cognitive impairment and dementia than those who follow other diets. More research is needed to conclude why this is true. However, it may have something to do with how those diets prioritize foods that have brain-protecting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Read more: Master the Mediterranean Diet with These Tips and Recipes

No matter whether you choose to follow a strict diet or improve your current food cycle, you can focus on improving your blood sugar and reducing high levels of LDL cholesterol to reduce your risk of dementia. Would like to do.

Foods to include in your diet better brain health,

  • leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and lettuce
  • salmon
  • dark berries
  • crazy
  • Greek yogurt
  • dark chocolate
  • green tea
  • Vegetables like broccoli and carrots


Studies have shown that following an active lifestyle reduces cognitive decline over time. When you exercise, your heart rate increases, which increases blood flow to the brain. It may help promote new growth of nerve cells, a process called neurogenesis. Exercise also promotes increased connections between cells, making the brain more adaptive.

Generally, any exercise that is good for the body is also good for the mind. It is not necessary to lift weights; Walking, swimming and dancing also provide similar results.

Read more:How exercise helps boost your memory-brain health as you age

Three happy elderly women wearing colorful clothes. Three happy elderly women wearing colorful clothes.

Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

make connections with others

Marshall explained that prioritizing high-quality relationships with others may benefit the brain. According to a meta-analysis of longitudinal cohort studies, limited or poor relationships were associated with cognitive decline.

Prioritizing social interaction is an essential part of aging. Whether it's spending time with your family or finding yourself at your local community center, staying connected is an integral part of aging gracefully.

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Our brain changes as we age; There is no way around it. However, incorporating any of these simple habits into your daily routine can help nourish and protect your brain for the future.

To keep your brain healthy, there are some things that you should avoid. Heavy cigarette smoking has been linked to cognitive decline in middle age. Heavy drinking, poor diet and uncontrolled high blood pressure can also have negative effects on the brain as we age, Marshall said.

Don't worry; There is still time to turn it around. Even if you smoke now, quitting is likely to bring your risk of cognitive decline back to a level that is equal to that of people who have never smoked.

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