I have parents and adults all the time tell me how much they regret quitting an instrument when they were younger. Here is a good article by Julie Morris about staying mentally challenged as an adult, dust off the old guitar, I can help you put new strings on and give me a call, we’ll get you playing Metallica in no time!!
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone and Into a Better Brain and Body
Ever feel like your brain and body are starting to let you down? You can’t remember words the way you used to, and a walk in the park no longer feels like such a walk in the park? New research shows that taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill goes a long way in sharpening your brain’s ability to fight and prevent memory loss, especially for those in addiction recovery. If that new hobby or skill includes physical exercise, you’ll be doing double duty by also enhancing your physical health.
According to research published in Psychological Science, it’s important to get out and do something unfamiliar and mentally challenging to provide broad stimulation mentally and socially. Doing crossword puzzles and taking ginkgo biloba supplements can only do so much. You need to step out of your comfort zone and learn a new skill or take up a new hobby to get those synapses firing. Learning a new skill can even improve your self-confidence. Here are some great activities to check out.
Learn a Musical Instrument
Research shows that the brains of musicians are different than others -- as in smarter. Learning to play an instrument is one of the most effective ways to improve your cognitive abilities. You’ll especially be giving a huge boost to your memory function. Thanks to the internet, you can find online courses for learning how to play everything from the piano to the Native American flute.
Join a Choir
Singing has been shown to provide several health benefits, such as improved mood due to the release of pleasure endorphins, lessened stress/anxiety, and improved memory. In addition, singing with others fosters social connections. However, singing can be done anywhere such as in your home, car, or on a jog.
Whether you’re interested in drawing, sculpting, photography, or even knitting, learning any of these activities has been shown to stimulate the brain. Many of these activities are also great fun when done as a social activity. Search online to find classes in your area, as well as in arts and crafts and home improvement stores.
Get Up and Dance!
Dancing is a social activity and gives you a workout as well. Beyond burning calories and getting in shape, dancing may also lower your risk of dementia. According to a study from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, researchers found that the mental challenge of following dance steps and moving in time with the rhythm may be responsible for lowering the risk of dementia. Whether you’d like to learn how to salsa or do the Cowboy Hustle, plenty of free dance classes can be found on YouTube.
Learn a New Language
Research supports that learning a language as a senior helps the brain resist some of the common problems that come with dementia and other age-related cognitive issues. With websites like Duolingo, you can learn for free. Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the world, which makes it a practical choice, but then there’s French, with the motivation of visiting Paris. If you’re looking for the easiest languages to learn, check out this article.
Improve your computer savvy or brush up on the basics. Whether you simply want to navigate social media with more ease or create your own website, embracing new technology will not only help you cognitively, but it will also enrich your life immensely. Keeping current on the latest apps and programs will help you save time and money and make communicating with your loved ones so much easier.
This is your time to pursue that skill or hobby you put on the backburner when you were building your career or tending to young children. Just think of how you’ll benefit your brain if you trade in just one hour of TV per day for learning a new language or taking a dance class. Instead of bingeing on Netflix, binge on your new learning goals. May you be that 90-year-old who is still going strong and having the time of your life. Have fun!