There’s good news if you’re worried about your brain working at peak efficiency in midlife. Although traditional thinking tells us our brains are best in their youth, the American Psychological Association reports that the middle-aged brain maintains many abilities of youth and can acquire new skills. Their reporting also says that middle-aged brains can rewire themselves and be calmer, less neurotic, and better equipped to deal with social situations.
The middle-aged brain is the perfect time to re-explore new passions and get it in tip-top shape for the second phase of your life. Work on boosting your brain with the best exercises, activities and resources to maximize its full potential. Here’s how to get started.
Protecting your physical and mental health becomes increasingly important as you age. According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, doing moderate exercises several times a week is the best way to keep your mind sharp if you’re over 50. Join a Tai Chi or walking club to get social and find support to hit your exercise goals. Even if you live in a cold weather climate, you can look into shopping malls as a place to walk. Most malls open early to walkers to take a few laps around the property before indulging in a fresh coffee as the shops are starting to open.
Refresh Your Knowledge (and Independence)
Keeping your brain in optimal health requires refreshing your skills and knowledge from time to time. Middle age is a good time to brush up on your driving skills to keep you safe on the road while protecting your independence. There are plenty of online driving tests and courses you can take to get back up to speed. You can also refresh your work skills like Microsoft Word or Excel and teach it to others in your community as a way to give back while sharpening your skills.
Boosting your brain can be fun with a combination of challenges and games. Test your memory by trying to cook a meal from memory, working out complex math problems in your head and testing your recall at the grocery store. Reward yourself with a special treat or bottle of wine once in awhile to keep it fun and interesting. The idea is to put your brain in a whole new pattern of thinking by creating little challenges. You can even drive home a different way from work or mix up your routine to make it feel a little more challenging and keep your brain from going into auto-pilot.
Now you actually have an excuse to waste time on social media. Being social isn’t just a way to combat loneliness, it can actually help improve your cognitive health. According to a study in the Journal of Gerontology, research suggests older adults who remain socially active and cognitively engaged have better cognitive function than those who are isolated or disengaged. Those who used Facebook showed a significant increase in executive function and overall cognitive ability.
Learn a New Language
Speaking another language can be a fun and rewarding experience that makes travel more enjoyable. But it’s also been shown to be a secret weapon in dementia prevention. According to Alzheimer’s.net, speaking a second language may help delay the onset of three different types of dementia, regardless of your education level.
So far your brain at 50-plus is good news. Your brain may work as well as in your youth with the ability to learn new skills and adapt. And best of all, you have time and freedom to learn new brain-boosting activities to get your mind in optimal health for your golden years. Start with something enjoyable and see where your new brain-boosting activities take you.