The brain is an important and the most complex organ of the body. We can't see it and yet it controls every function in the body. The more we use it, the healthier it becomes. The less we use it, the higher the risk of us losing it.
When we exercise the brain, we also build cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve is the brain's resilience to protect against cognitive decline and reduce our risk of developing dementia. It is a robust tool in our brain that gives us the ability to find alternative ways to function when challenged.
Building cognitive reserve can happen at any stage in life. It's never too early or too late. An effective way to building cognitive reserve is to regularly engage in new, different and challenging brain exercises at least once a week. The main purpose is to give the brain a complete workout by stimulating the 6 core functions of the brain.
Here are examples of some easy and fun activities that will contribute to maintaining a healthy brain:
Jigsaw puzzles or Reading the map: Some people enjoy jigsaw puzzles more than others. Doing jigsaw puzzle or navigating the map gives the built-in navigation tool in your brain a good workout. This helps you maintain balance and a sense of date, time, space and distance between objects.
Crossword puzzles: The daily crossword puzzle does wonders for maintaining the language function of your brain.
Sudoku and Kakuro: While crosswords help with the language part of the brain, mixing them with Sudoku or Kakuro puzzles (even if they're not your strong suit) are valuable across a range of brain functions. Kakuro keeps the accounting function in the brain sharp while Sudoku gives your brain a pretty well-rounded workout.
Word recall: This is an easy and simple way to boost your short-term memory. All you need to do is pick 7 or 9 medium length words, write them down on a piece of paper, memorise them and put the paper away. Then, you recall the words in the exact sequence top to bottom, bottom to top, and in alphabetical order.
Trivia: People love it or hate it. Spending time practising your knowledge on a certain topic and trying to improve it will help exercise your long-term memory function. If you don't know the answer, searching on the internet (asking Mr Google) will add some fun too.
Logic or Code Breaking Puzzles: These puzzles, which are abundant online and can be purchased in bookshop, are fantastic ways to boost your problem solving ability and they give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete them.
Mental maths: Something as simple as adding up your purchases in your head as you shop can stimulate the computing processes in your brain to stay sharp. It doesn't matter if you don't get them right to the cent - it's the process of remembering the prices and adding them up that will help with memory and computation.
The cauliflower in your head needs a variety of "fertiliser" to stay healthy. If you can make mental stimulation a part of your regular routine, the benefits will be felt long-term.
To find out how healthy your brain is right now or if you're quietly concerned about your brain health and dementia, click here to take this quick and simple FREE brain health check and start taking proactive action to slow down brain ageing to maintain your independence and quality of life.