5 ways to keep your brain active in retirement

May 14, 2020

Did you exercise your brain today? We know it’s important to stay physically active, but we often overlook the importance of the brain when we think about being healthy.

Our efforts are on diet, sleep, and exercise. Perhaps some people also consider emotional balance as a way to mitigate stress. The majority of us, however, think that this completes our picture of good health that unlocks a happy retirement. But what about the brain?

The brain is still a bit of a mystery, but what is clear is that we have to exercise it to keep it healthy. But what does that mean exactly?

While we can’t take our brain to a brain ‘gym’ and have it undertake a group class, many physical exercise buzzwords still apply. Exercising the brain involves stretching it to improve its flexibility, its strength, and its ability to regenerate lost cells. This exercise is easy, and it’s something we can all do; not just retirees. Here are 4 ideas:

Do Problem-Solving Puzzles

  • Get a Sudoku or Crossword puzzle book and pick at it each day. You can even download free apps for these puzzles, so there is no excuse that they aren’t available.
  • Start with ones that you can easily complete. Then slowly work towards the medium and hard ones. Don’t be too eager to stump yourself, as this may turn you off doing it each day.
  • Problem-solving stretches the brain, but like the body, you don’t want to pull a muscle. There are so many of these puzzles/apps that if you don’t like Sudoku or Crosswords, you can pick another. Even solitaire is a good option!

Do Things Differently to Break Brain Patterns

  • Breaking brain patterns means the brain doesn’t get into a rut. Like with the rest of your body, if you don’t use a muscle, it won’t maintain itself. The easiest way to do this is to use your opposite hand for easy things such as opening doors, moving a cup or using the TV remote.
  • This creates new patterns that stretch and build the brain. You can even take a different route to your usual destinations, wash your face after you brush your teeth at bedtime, and consider getting up on the wrong side of the bed.

Memorise Something Simple

  • Open any book, newspaper, magazine, or even something online, and pick a sentence at random. Make sure it’s less than 20 words. Read it a few times, and then say it 8 to 10 times out loud. Then repeat it in 20 minutes.
  • If you’ve forgotten, no worries. Repeat the memory process of reading it and saying it out loud. Then again, repeat it in 20 minutes, and every few hours through the day.
  • Some days you could use your grocery order, a list of your favourite singers, or your top 10 movie titles. Mix it up. As you get better, increase the word count. Have fun with it as you stretch your brain.

Do Something Creative

  • Draw a picture, arrange some flowers, or reorganise your wardrobe. Creativity is good for the brain as it reduces stress and improves problem solving.
  • Try to do something creative every day. There are so many choices, including gardening, all sorts of crafting, sewing as well as knitting and crocheting.
  • Even if you don’t have any skills with a craft, you could still pick up a pencil and draw a cat, a dog, or even your coffee mug. It isn’t about how creative you are, it’s only about being

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, please consult your own legal, financial or health advisors before making any decisions.

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