Keeping Your Brain Healthy As You Age
By Brad Gillman
Mar 29, 2016
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Get mental stimulation
It’s important to put your brain through an intellectual workout. Try adding a new hobby, learn a musical instrument, or challenge your brain through puzzles. Stimulating your brain through new challenges has a positive effect on your brain’s health as you age.
“Through research with mice and humans, doctors suspect that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological ‘plasticity’ and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss,” said Berkeley Bate, MD, neurosurgeon at Intermountain Healthcare’s Southern Utah Neurosciences Institute.
“Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain.”
Get physical exercise
Your body’s fitness level matters as you reach the golden years for many reasons – including the health of your brain. Research has shown that keeping an exercise routine could help increase the amount of tiny blood vessels that help transport oxygen-rich blood to the brain.
“Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells,” Bate said.
“This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better performance in aging.”
RELATED: Exercise and its Impact on the Brain
Improve your diet
“Good nutrition can help your mind as well as your body,” Bate said. “There are a couple of specifics to keep in mind. It’s about keeping the calories in check and eating the right foods that can help your body and your mind.”
“Fortified cereal, other grains, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of vitamins.”
Aging is a natural progression, but it does not mean you’re powerless. For more information on building healthy habits, visit intermountainlivewell.org.