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Brain Exercises and Dementia

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How does brain activity help? continued...

By keeping your brain active with brain exercises or other engagement, you may help build up a reserve of brain cells and connections. You might even grow new brain cells. This is one explanation for the link between Alzheimer's and lower levels of education. Experts think that extra stimulation from education may protect the brain by strengthening brain cell connections.

Of course, neither education nor brain exercises provide an insurance policy against Alzheimer's. But they may help delay the onset of symptoms, prolonging a higher quality of life. And that could be worth a whole lot.

What kinds of brain exercises should I do?

Researchers know even less about the best types of exercise for your brain. They may well vary from person to person. But the main idea seems to be keeping your brain active and challenged.

Learning something new makes new brain cells grow. You could even try something as simple as occasionally eating with your nondominant hand.

Here is some brain training you might try:

  • Learn something new -- a second language or a musical instrument.
  • Play board games with your kids or grandkids. Or get your friends together for a weekly game of cards. Mix it up by trying new games. The extra bonus of doing activities like these? Social connections also help your brain.
  • Work on crossword, number, or other kinds of puzzles.
  • Play online memory games or exercises or video games.

Simply surfing the Internet may be a great way to "stretch" your brain into new territory. By using MRI scans, researchers have even seen this activity trigger centers of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning.

Reading, writing, or attending local adult education classes are other great ways to keep your brain exercised.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on August 20, 2014
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