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Brain Exercises for People Over 40

As we approaches middle age and beyond, we become increasingly concerned about the agility, effectiveness, and fitness of our brains. While Alzheimer’s Disease is the number one brain health threat to individuals over 40, many Baby Boomers are seeking practical ways to improve their brain power, and minimize the likelihood of developing this heartbreaking condition. In his book, Keep Your Brain Alive, Duke University Professor of Neurobiology, Lawrence C. Katz, introduces a new brain fitness science called Neurobics. This post will discuss some of the most basic and highly effective brain exercises for those over 40.

What is Neurobics?
Neurobics is a form of neuroscience that studies mental fitness through the use of various types of brain exercises. Dr. Katz explains the principles behind neurobics, and identifies certain exercises that enhance the health of your brain as you get older. He also uncovers over 80 Neurobic exercises that are designed to help boost overall mental fitness, and prevent memory loss. Six of them will be uncovered here.

Cope With Your Eyes Closed
According to Dr. Katz, “The exercise program calls for presenting the brain with non-routine and unexpected experiences using various combinations of your physical senses — vision, smell, touch, taste, and hearing — as well as your emotional ‘sense’.” The first exercise that he suggests for improving your mental fitness is doing safe everyday routines with your eyes closed. At the start of the day, rise out of bed, walk to your bathroom, and begin showering with both eyes completely closed. When leaving for work, keep both eyes closed and walk to your vehicle. Pull out your car keys, and start the engine. Once you’ve reached your workplace, walk to certain parts of the office space with your eyes closed. Other normal office routines such as walking through the hallway,
answering work-related phone calls, and eating lunch can be done while your eyes are closed. When you return home, continue with your normal everyday routines without your eyes open.

Use Your Less Dominant Hand
Another challenging exercise that Dr. Katz suggests is using your less dominant hand to carry out normal tasks. These tasks would include writing, pouring beverages, opening doors, combing your hair, answering the telephone, and other undertakings. To really do this exercise more effectively, you might want to put a kitchen mitt on your dominant hand to prevent inadvertent cheating. Other tasks that you can try with your less dominant and are buttoning your clothes, eating with a fork or spoon, drinking, carrying your handbag or briefcase, operating your car steering wheel, and so on. Try doing as many tasks as you can think of using only your less dominant hand.

Apply Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a form of mind or physical therapy using fragrances from plant oils and ointments. Dr. Katz believes that applying aromatherapy is one of the best methods for enhancing ones mental fitness. One of his suggestions for using aromatherapy is to play music in your car while driving. At the same time, have a small jar containing a fragrance of your choice on the dashboard of your vehicle. While the music is playing, grab the fragrance jar and take a few whiffs from it. The purpose of doing this is to heighten the physical senses of hearing and smell simultaneously.

Take Different Routes While Driving
When driving, you are generally accustomed to taking certain familiar routes to work, to school, and to other places that you regularly frequent. However, Dr. Katz recommends finding as many different routes as possible while driving to your normal stomping grounds. Learn many short cuts for your commutes to work. Take a few scenic routes during those moments where you are either not rushing or are simply driving for leisure and relaxation. Drive to different cities and to distant locations just for the enjoyment of it. Also, drive under various types of weather conditions be it sun, rain, or snow. Try to drive in different traffic situations whether you are comfortable with them or not; such as light or bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Turn Things Upside Down
Many of us become slightly uncomfortable when forced to look at things that were placed upside down. However, Dr. Katz asserts that viewing upside down items is actually a great exercise for improving ones mental fitness. In fact, he advises that you turn things upside on purpose. So, any pictures you have hanging on your wall at home, or placed upright on shelves, turn them all upside down. Do the same with the family photos you have on your desk at work. When placing on your desk such items as file folders, books, and brochures; lie them all upside down instead of placing them right-side up.

Learn Braille and Sign Language
This exercise will require a great deal of classroom training and practice, but is an exceptionally powerful way to boost your mental fitness. Dr. Katz suggests completing one before doing the other. The purpose of learning Braille and sign language is to enhance your physical senses of vision, touch, and hearing.

As Dr. Katz states in his book, “Neurobics aims to help you maintain a continuing level of mental fitness, strength, and flexibility as you age.” Regardless of age, these brain exercises can work for you; provided that you diligently work on them. So, follow the example of the self manager by following the exercises in Keep Your Brain Alive.

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