Fitness can take many forms. Whether you ride a bike, hike through a local park, or enjoy a swim at your local health club, most people know exercise plays a vital role in wellness. But there is another type of fitness that’s equally important: brain aerobics.
While physical activity helps protect cognitive health, you also need to engage in hobbies and leisure endeavors that stimulate and challenge your brain. In honor of Active Aging Week, celebrated October 5 – 11, we are sharing suggestions on how to boost your mental fitness.
How to Challenge Your Brain
The “use it or lose it” principle can aptly be applied to brain health. When your brain encounters new and different information, it stays alert, active, and stimulated. By contrast, if you allow yourself to fall into a rut during retirement, where every day is the same, your cognitive function can be negatively impacted. Lifelong learning is the key.
Continuing to learn new hobbies and skills generally prevents you from spending too much time sitting. A sedentary lifestyle is bad for your physical health, as well as your mental and spiritual well-being.
Here are a few ways you can keep learning, no matter what your age:
- Bang on the drums: The therapeutic benefits of music are well-documented. It can soothe, uplift, and calm the spirit. By learning how to play a musical instrument—or if you are already a musician, learning a new song—you stimulate the brain. Buy a used set of drums or a guitar and find a virtual workshop to learn how to play.
- Learn a new language: Another great way to keep your brain engaged is signing up to learn a foreign language. In just 15 to 20 minutes a day, you can give your brain an aerobic workout. If COVID-19 concerns make you understandably reluctant to take an in-person class, explore free or inexpensive online classes instead. Duolingo and Babbel are two popular platforms.
- Be an avid reader: In a time when coronavirus looms large, staying home and reading is appealing to many. Whatever you choose to read, whether it’s the latest spy thriller or a lighthearted comedy, curling up with a good book for an hour or so can be fuel for the brain. Most libraries have e-programs through which members can borrow books on an app.
- Dabble in paint: You don’t have to be Monet to benefit from playing around with art projects. The process of creating, even if you don’t consider yourself very good at it, is what challenges the mind and spirit. As the COVID-19 outbreak lingers, many local art museums and galleries are offering workshops via Zoom and Skype. Sites like Skillshare and Udemy also host virtual art classes on topics ranging from watercolor painting and photography to drawing and jewelry design.
- Take an online class: Ivy League colleges are offering over 400 free online classes, from Introduction to Negotiation at Yale University to Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies at Harvard University. No matter what your background or degree, you can sign up for a class of your choice.
Empowered Living at Clearwater
At Clearwater Living communities, we are staying socially engaged while physically distancing. Through our signature Empowered Living program, team members are finding creative ways to keep residents busy and connected, from ping pong games to physically distanced art workshops, TED Talk lectures, and book clubs. We make it easy to stay active, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Call the Clearwater Living community nearest you to learn more today!