A balanced diet and a bit of exercise aren’t the only ways to keep fit in your retirement, your brain needs stimulation and exercise to stay healthy too! Did you know that every time your brain is exercised and challenged, nerve extensions within the brain form new connections?
Your brain is a complex organ and a vital muscle in your body and, just like other muscles, it needs regular exercise to stay healthy. Read on for 5 ways you can exercise your brain and keep your mind sharp in your retirement.
1. Learn, learn, learn
You may have more leisure time available now you’re retired, so this is the perfect time to try something new and continue your learning! Keep your mind engaged with music and learn a new instrument for example, there will always be new songs to practice and you could teach what you learn to your grandchildren.
Did you know you can stimulate different parts of the brain and improve your cognitive abilities by learning a new language? There are lots books and online apps to help you in your quest to master a new language, like Duolingo for example which is simple and free to use.
Trying different activities and learning a new skill is a fantastic way to exercise your brain at any age, it’s never too late to learn something new. Plus, every time you learn something new you’ll feel accomplished, which leads to stimulation of the brain’s reward system, triggering more electrical activity!
Not sure what to try? The Open University website lists a range of free courses to browse through, as well as the Future Learn website which also offers a large variety of free academic courses to take part in online.
2. Have fun with hobbies
If you’re thinking of new hobbies to take up in your retirement, focus on activities you’ll enjoy but also those that use your fine-motor skills, such as creative arts like drawing, painting, knitting or model building for example.
Creativity requires lots of brainpower, so these types of activities will keep your mind sharp and focused! Arts and crafts offer a wonderful way to engage your mind while also improving hand-eye coordination and relaxation.
Continuing with your past hobbies, and finding a new hobby, can challenge and excite your mind every day. Don’t forget that using your imagination is another great brain exercise. Try imagining how you might change your garden or redecorate your house perhaps.
3. Keep active
Athletic activity increases the blood flow throughout the body and having a healthy body leads to a healthy brain. Have you tried yoga for example? The principal focus of yoga is to strengthen the mind-body connection, so it could be the perfect healthy activity for both your mind and your body, either at home or at a local class.
Try to avoid spending too much time indoors during your retirement, embrace the great outdoors and spend a little time in the garden this Spring. As you tend to your garden and plan improvements you are stimulating your brain the entire time.
Keep your senses active too and spend time cooking. Using a variety of senses like taste, smell, sight and touch, involves different parts of the brain which is excellent stimuli for your mind. Following a recipe requires planning, measuring and using your judgement too, so why not take a cooking class and learn new skills along the way?
4. Test your memory and quizzing skills
Testing your brain and challenging your memory recall can be an effective way to exercise your brain and keep healthy in your retirement. When it comes to testing memory and keeping your mind sharp, simple quizzes can provide every exercise you need.
Crossword puzzles, word jumble games and Sudoku for example offer excellent challenges and a fun test of your quizzing and problem-solving skills. Plus, you can find these for free online and in local papers and magazines a lot of the time! Visit the Saga website for regular, free quizzes and online games.
Board games, puzzles and cards can also help test your problem-solving skills and assist with dexterity, keeping your mind and body active at the same time. Did you know you can play games, like bridge and chess for example, online? Technology has advanced so much in recent years that there’s pretty much a game for everything, including cards and even brain training exercises.
5. Stay social
A fantastic way to stimulate the mind is to socialise and share experiences with others. Share your hobbies and love of games with friends and family. Teaching your grandchildren to play a game for example challenges your brain and keeps you on your toes!
Tell others about your life and experiences and consider writing down your memories and funny stories, or perhaps even recording them on video. This will not only stimulate your memory but also exercise your brain as you read, write and talk about past events.
An important way to exercise your brain in retirement is to remain social and engage in conversation. A meaningful conversation is an excellent cognitive activity plus you get the benefit of social interactions. If your family and friends are a little far away for regular visits, try online communications like Skype where you can video chat over the internet. Read our guide on technology and apps for the older generation for tips on staying connected in your retirement.
There are lots of ways you can exercise your brain in retirement and enjoy your leisure time. These brain exercises are just a few activities you could try right away, so why not boost your health, keep your mind sharp and exercise your brain today!
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