TRAIN YOUR BRAIN

Easy life­style changes to keep your mind su­per-sharp

Country Living (UK) - - Contents - Words by anne mon­tague

Be­ing for­get­ful isn’t an in­evitable part of age­ing if you take time to ex­er­cise your grey mat­ter. Fol­low these tips to keep your mind su­per-sharp

Do you find that names dis­ap­pear into a men­tal black hole? Are you for­ever los­ing your car keys or walk­ing into a room and for­get­ting why you needed to go in there? Don’t panic. Al­though mem­ory blips can be un­nerv­ing, es­pe­cially as we get a bit older, they’re un­likely to be a sign of any­thing more sin­is­ter than nor­mal brain age­ing. And the good news is that, al­though your mem­ory might not be quite as sharp as it was in your twen­ties, your abil­ity to in­te­grate what you’ve learnt and use it ef­fec­tively may ac­tu­ally be bet­ter. Keep­ing your brain ac­tive and chal­lenged can help to main­tain its plas­tic­ity, and ev­ery time you learn some­thing new, you cre­ate new con­nec­tions. Here’s what you need to do to build a bet­ter brain…

MEN­TAL WORK­OUT

What’s good for your heart is good for your brain, and phys­i­cal ex­er­cise is still the best­doc­u­mented way of keep­ing it in shape. Ex­er­cise im­proves the flow of oxy­gen-rich blood (your brain uses 20 per cent of your en­tire oxy­gen sup­ply), helps to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and stim­u­lates the re­lease of chem­i­cals ben­e­fi­cial to brain cells. A re­view of 18 dif­fer­ent stud­ies found that peo­ple aged 55 to 80 who did reg­u­lar ex­er­cise per­formed four times bet­ter on cog­ni­tive tests than the couch pota­toes. Ex­er­cise may even af­fect the size of your brain – one study found

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