5 Simple Steps to Stay Sharp as You Age

Many of us make an effort to take care of our physical health. We stay in shape, avoid the Scary Seven, and are mindful of what goes in and on our bodies. But what about our brain health? There are plenty of things we can do to take care of our brain today and as we age, and the great news is these steps have a positive impact on our overall health too. Try incorporating one—or all—into your daily routine. Your brain will thank you!

Read more about improving your memory

1. Fuel Up on Fats

Our brains are composed of almost 60% fat, which means they require supply of healthy fats to function properly. We're not talking about french fries or ice cream, but a diet rich in essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, which studies have shown to impact mood disorders like ADHD and depression. Load up on whole foods like avocados, walnuts, salmon, eggs, coconut oil. [Editor's note: We recommend organic virgin coconut oil from our sponsor Barlean's.]

Read more about the benefits of nuts

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

According to a new study, getting adequate sleep can sharpen your memory. The study also suggests that we need nine hours of sleep each night, despite one-third of Americans not even hitting the seven hour mark. To improve your sleep habits, turn off all electronics two hours before bed and build a nighttime routine that supports sound sleep. This could include herbal teas, meditation, or supplements like magnesium. You may even want to consider limiting caffeine during the day. A sleep journal can help you discover the best habits to support sweet dreams.

Read more signs you're sleep deprived and what to do about it 

3. Be Social

A new study in the Journal of Aging and Mental Health shows that socializing with others can have a big impact on our mental health. A solid social life can support cognitive functioning over time. The study found social interaction has as big a role to play on a healthy brain as we age as factors like physical activity or mood disorders like depression. Spending time with friends is also known to be a natural stress reliever, so make those brunch plans or go for a hike with your pals this weekend.  

4. Get Moving

We know it's important to stay active for the health of our bodies, but physical activity can also protect our mind as we age. Another study shows that exercise can stop the brain shrinkage that happens with age, as well as contribute to better brain function, enhanced cognitive function, help the brain adapt to new experiences. Whatever your favorite way to move your body, get out there and reap the brain-boosting rewards. Bonus points if you do it with friends!

Read more about exercising to boost creativity

5. Pick Up a Hobby

We aren't all blessed with creative outlets at work, so it's important to exercise our creativity in our downtime. Research shows creative hobbies may help prevent dementia. You don't have to be Picasso—try one of the many adult coloring books, take up knitting, or even make it a goal to do the crossword on your commute every day. If you want to learn a new skill, try a pottery class or join a bookclub and flex those mental muscles. 

By Steph Davidson| May 24, 2017
Categories:  Live

About the Author

Steph Davidson

Steph Davidson

Steph is a writer and editor with a love of tea, books, and horror movies. Steph grew up under the impression that most meals came out of a box and had to contain some sort of animal protein. When an interest in a more environmentally friendly way of living led to her vegetarianism in 2012, she decided to teach herself how to cook. You can catch her kitchen wins (and the occasional opportunity for improvement) on Instagram @_stephinitely_.


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