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Facts for All Ages

Do I Have to do Crosswords to Stay Sharp?



You may have noticed that all of the Family Files blog entries this month have been about brain health and memory in honor of Brain Awareness Week. We have emphasized that exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep, socialization and stress management are all major contributors for a healthy brain. Mentally challenging yourself with new and complex activities can also help with memory and overall cognition. Does this mean you need to do crosswords, Sudoku or seek-a-word puzzles each day? Not necessarily. Brain exercise is more than just paper/pencil activities, but encompasses any activity that actually requires a person to actively think to perform it. Anytime you are learning something new like a language, playing an instrument or a dance move can cause the production of new brain cells or neurons and the growth of new pathways between these neurons, improving communication between them.

Do you like to play cards? There is new research showing how beneficial card playing – especially Bridge - can be for memory. Here is a great article from AARP on this topic

Board games like Chess, Mastermind, Jenga, Mind Trap and even Battleship can also contribute to mental sharpness. Do you like to work in the garden? Or travel? Or are you crafty and like to knit or create other projects? All of these activities are considered exercise for the brain as long as they are not too easy or something you do on auto pilot. Also, if you pursue mental activities that incorporate some of the other healthy brain contributors like socialization or physical exercise, you will get more "bang for your buck" in terms of how beneficial the activity will be for you.

There are some great articles online regarding brain exercise options that I will share with you so you can get the additional benefit of reading the articles yourself – which of course, is another great way to work out your brain!


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