Dementia Awareness: 10 exercises to strengthen your memory
As Cicero said, "memory decreases if it is not exercised." Our brain has the ability to store and retrieve information, in addition to performing most of the functions of our body. But to keep our memory healthy, we need to exercise it. That is why it makes sense to perform a few simple exercises daily that allow us to keep our intellect in top shape.
Memory problems. What are they?
Our mind is what sets us apart and makes us unique. Therefore, we must take care of it and understand the dangers that exist in order to reduce the risk of experiencing problems or diseases, such as:
Alzheimer's disease: some studies have shown that exercising our memory may help in avoiding this degenerative mental illness.
Senile dementia: is the loss of intellectual capacity and affects the development of our daily activities.
Cognitive impairment: this causes decreased attention and reduced speed of reasoning.
Why should we exercise our memory?
The old expression "healthy in mind and body" has now taken on a new significance in our day and age. The emergence of new technologies has made life easier, but can also contribute to making us mentally less active. With that in mind, it is essential, just as we look after our bodies, that we do the same with our memory. The brain ages in the same way as the rest of our organs, that is, our neurons weaken and die over time.
However, we can counteract this deterioration by generating new neural connections through exercises and cognitive challenges. Here are some tips:
1. Avoid routine: mechanical exercises do not stimulate our brain. On the other hand, posing challenges will make us more active and improve our capabilities. One solution is to change our way of working or changing things around our house in order to stimulate certain parts of the brain.
2. Healthy diet: there are certain types of food that favour the functioning of the mind. Consuming products rich in omega 3 , vegateable-based foods and chocolate can help us improve memory.
3. Try working with your non-dominant hand: this method exercises some areas of the brain and also helps us with our co-ordination. You can try to draw simple figures with the left hand (if you are right-handed) or try drawing with both hands at the same time. It can also be useful to spend a whole day using your less favoured hand for simple actions such as combing or drying your hair.
4. Sleeping eight hours a day is essential for our minds to rest: there are certain habits that we can develop to help with good sleep patterms. These include having pre-established schedules, avoiding looking at screens before going to bed or reducing caffeine consumption.
5. Physical activity: doing sports improves the flow of blood and oxygen to our brains.
6. Exercising the visual memory: It´s good to test our minds by trying to remember where an object or the elements of an image were. For example, when arriving at a new place we can try to remember how many people are there and what colour clothes they are wearing.
7. Stimulate the senses: it is normal for some smells, sounds or textures to remind us of past experiences. We can exercise the mind by trying to put that memory in context.
8. Mind maps: at the end of each day it is a good idea to try and remember everything we have done, for example by trying to draw the places we have visited.
9. Give the the mind a work out through Sudoku , crossword puzzles and other exercises that keep us active and alert. Similarly, the mnemonic rule of using short phrases or images associated with an idea is also very useful.
10.The Loci method: this technique (which has been used since Ancient Greece) is a bit more complicated but with perseverance can help to build our own mental palace . We can build a mental image of our home, memorise each of its rooms and then fill it with objects or things that we want to remember later. This is an excellent method to train your spatial memory .
We can improve neural activity and delay the aging of our brain through exercises that stimulate our minds.
It is important to exercise your memory at any age to avoid diseases such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
This article originally appeared in Spanish on the ASISA Blog. It is translated and reproduced here with permission.
Read more about Age in Spain´s partnership with ASISA here.