Yesterday evening, I found myself staring into my bathroom cabinet, trying desperately to remember why I had opened it in the first place. Little lapses in memory like this are frustrating, and sadly they’re normal parts of life. As we age, minor moments of memory loss are bound to become more common.
It becomes harder to remember what we needed from the grocery store, where we put our keys, or who were were supposed to call. Luckily, there are habits we can live by that can strengthen our brains and keep our memories powerful long term. Here are the three main habits you should have if you want to have the memory of an elephant even after you’ve retired.
The First Habit…
For preventing long term memory loss to get plenty of exercise. We normally think of exercise as being good for our physical health, but it’s actually an important component in mental health as well! Physical activity has been found to improve memory, as well as other cognitive skills. The effects of exercise begin immediately after the activity and have lasting effects on brain health.
Unfortunately, a lot of people find exercise dreadful. They make excuse after excuse to avoid going for a run. If that sounds like you, I recommend you find a new form of exercise that fits your personality and lifestyle. If hitting the gym just isn’t your thing, there are literally thousands of other options out there. You can make exercise a social activity – join a sports team, a hiking group, an exercise class (yoga, hula hooping, cardio – you name it, it exists).
If you prefer to exercise from home, turn on a workout video and do some yoga, jump roping, strength training, or whatever you happen to enjoy. If working out is hard because of pain or previous injuries, start slow. Go for a walk around the block or go for a swim. Just a few hours of exercise per week is enough to improve your brain power. Fit some exercise into your routine, and your brain will thank you.
The Second Habit…
That will support your brain function in the long term is a healthy diet. Eating well not only leads to immediate cognitive improvement but supports your brain in staying healthy for years to come. The food on your plate should be colorful and diverse.
Try to limit fried foods and red meat, as these foods don’t offer the nutrients that the brain needs to function well. Instead, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables (especially spinach and kale), nuts, beans, eggs, and salmon.
A Mediterranean-style diet, which includes tons of veggies and some fish for protein, is perfect if you want your memory to be top-notch. Again, the effects on your brain last long after you’ve finished your plate. So even if you don’t immediately notice the effects of your healthy diet, keep in mind that your post-retirement self might be thankful for all of the memories they’ve retained.
The Third Habit…
To support long-term memory function is to exercise your brain. There are countless games that require memory recall and strategic thinking, which essentially trains your brain and keeps it young. Some examples of games like this are puzzles, crossword puzzles, and sudoku. There are also board games that challenge your brain, like Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and Risk. Simply picking up a book is another fantastic hobby that works out your brain. Make an effort to turn off the television early some nights and partake in activities that make you think and challenge your memory skills.
With habits like these, you can keep your brain working well. It doesn’t matter if you’re in college, in your forties, or in your eighties! It’s never too late to pick up these healthy habits and better your memory. It will all be worth it when you find that your memory is just as strong as it was twenty years prior.