Is this the secret to making your brain feel 10 years younger?
Want to know the secret to keeping your brain sharp?
Look no further than the crossword section of your Sunday newspaper.
Researchers at the University of Exeter and King’s College London are conducting an online study that is one of the largest of its kind – measuring healthy brain activity in more than 17,000 people over the age of 50. More specifically, the goal of the study is to determine whether people can maintain brain health as they age by performing certain repeatable activities such as word puzzles.
The results of the study show that older adults who habitually work on word puzzles can keep their brains functioning at a strength of up to 10 years younger than their age. Although the idea that challenging your brain later in life can strengthen it is not new, the sheer volume of the positive results make this study rather eye-opening.
“Exercising your brain, especially as you age, is an effective way to keep your grammatical reasoning and short-term memory skills keen,” says Dr. MaryAnhthu Thi Do, a neurologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Since the study found a direct relationship between the frequency of puzzle use and scores on various cognitive tests, one can definitely see the value in word puzzles.”
In addition to word puzzles, experts at the National Institute on Aging say there are a handful of other activities that can promote brain health throughout your life. They recommend eating a healthy diet, being physically active and staying socially connected. When put together with exercising your mind, these practices can keep you sharp well into your old age.
Dr. Do recommends, “If you are at a point in your life where you are not in school or in a type of training where you are challenging your mind with new ideas, try to complete a word puzzle on a consistent basis. There is a risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and/or other cognitive problems associated with the aging process that could be linked to poor lifestyle choices and the lack of utilization of brain functions. By constantly challenging your brain, you will be doing yourself a favor for your overall cognitive health.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.