Unblock your brain drain

Our focus for Active August this week is all about keeping your mind active. But it’s not all about practicing the obvious healthy habits like getting plenty of sleep, not smoking, eating healthily and staying physically active.

Here are 8 fun ways to keep your mind sharp

1. Take up video-gaming

Action video games improve eye-hand co-ordination, improve spatial visualisation skills, and increase the number of things you can visually attend to simultaneously.

2. Play an instrument

Research shows music uses a different section of the brain than writing or speaking. People who’ve had a stroke and have trouble speaking have been known to sing a complete song.

3. Learn a new language

It’s never too late to learn a foreign language. You can study online, take a class or read up on a language at your local library. As you challenge your brain with mental exercise, you activate the processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication between them.

4. Mix up your morning routine

Do you normally get dressed before breakfast? Switch things up and get dressed after breakfast instead. Try a different news channel. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand than you normally use. Brain imaging studies have found that new activities exercise large areas of the brain’s cortex and increase levels of brain activity in several areas. And this activity decreases when the task becomes automatic and routine.

5. Play strategy games

Play games like bridge, chess or Scrabble with friends or play virtually online. The more strategy that games require, the more they’ll challenge your brain.

6. Read differently

Reading in a new way uses different brain circuits. Read aloud or listen to an audio book instead of reading silently to yourself. Grab a book that’s outside your comfort zone. If you normally reach for romance novels, dive into an athlete’s biography.

7. Do maths the old-fashioned way

Instead of using a calculator, do your calculations with a pen and paper. It won’t take much extra time. Brushing up on your maths skills can only benefit your brain. You could also help your children or grandchildren with their homework to keep your brain moving.

8. Solve some puzzles

Keep your brain active with puzzle games. Try jigsaw or crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Or go for brainteasers like anagrams. You can also look for free puzzles and brain teasers online. Jigsaw puzzles promote your problem-solving skills, which helps keep your mind sharp as you think about how the colours and shapes match up.

Why not give a puzzle a go now…

Are you feeling lucky? Have a go at our health and wellbeing wordsearch and you could win a small prize!

Find all the words, print it out and bring your completed puzzle to the Comms team by 5pm on Monday 19 August. The team will choose a winner at random and announce it on AskHUE. Good luck!

How well do you know your brain?

Think you know how your thinking skills might change as you get older? Give your brain a workout and test your knowledge by taking the Age UK test. See how your answers compare to other people’s from across the UK.

What do you do to keep your mind active? Let the Communications team know.

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