One of the best ways you can exercise your brain is to exercise your body. Physical activity encourages blood to flow to your brain, stimulating the growth of new cells. For a fit brain and body, get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Just remember to protect your head. Head trauma, such as from a concussion, increases your lifetime risk of dementia. Eating for a healthy body also promotes a healthy brain. In fact, diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, so cutting out processed and fast food is the smart choice. A healthy brain diet includes plenty of dark, leafy vegetables, like arugula and spinach, as well as lots of dark-colored fruits, like blueberries and blackberries, all rich in antioxidants, which protect and nourish brain cells. A healthy brain diet should not include a significant amount of alcohol, however. Heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of developing dementia; so don't exceed one or two drinks daily. Similarly, toss the cigarettes out! Smokers are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's. And perhaps one of the most fun ways to keep your brain healthy is to socialize! Meeting new people and spending time with old friends encourages new connections between brain cells. Plus, having fun reduces stress levels and, as we know, stress hormones can damage brain cells over the long term. Yoga, meditation, and talk therapy are also good for keeping your mind strong, but they shouldn't replace your brain's daily workout. The best brain exercises are games, like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and cards. Challenging yourself to learn new skills is important because it encourages new connections between brain cells. Learn a foreign language, start a new hobby or even volunteer! Shake up your routine. It's as simple as taking a new route to work or try basic tasks using your non-dominant hand. Any activity that forces your brain to work in new ways keeps your thinking in tip-top shape!
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012