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The Brain – How Can We Ensure Successful Aging?
The brain. It is probably the most important part of the human body. The brain is what makes us who we really are. The brain is what controls the rest of our body. Although we typically focus on what we can do to age gracefully physically, it is also important to not forget the most important part of our bodies – our brains. So, what can we do to ensure that our brains age successfully? Let’s look deeper at the 4 main categories of activities which have been shown to positively affect aging of the brain.
1. Mental Exercise
This doesn’t necessarily mean doing the daily crossword or Sudoku. Nor does it mean doing any of those only “brain training” programs. In fact, there are mixed reviews on whether any of these activities are effective in preventing dementia. Instead, this mental exercise category is referring to simply challenging your mind. This includes doing things like reading books, attending lectures, solving puzzles, or learning to play a new game. Most literature agrees that challenging your brain by learning new things is more beneficial than simply doing repetitive “brain exercises”
2. Social Expression
Social connections are important for a variety of reasons. They prevent loneliness and social isolation, reduce depression, among others. However, scientists also agree that social connections are an important way to reduce the risk of dementia. This may be due to the fact friends and conversations often challenge our minds. They may ask us thoughtful questions or propose new ideas. This reduced risk may also come from the decreased stress and positive emotions that come from meaningful social interactions. One study found that older women with large social networks were 26% less likely to develop dementia when compared to their less social counterparts. Thus, it appears social networks may have a protective effect on our brain.
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