In the midst of promotions for commercial brain training programs to ward off age-related cognitive decline, a few studies are beginning to indicate that simple pleasures may be even more productive. You may find that doing one of the following is an easier and more rewarding way to boost your brain than doing computer-based exercises.
1. Care for a dog
“There’s a reason dogs are called our best friends: not only do they offer unparalleled companionship, but a growing body of research shows they also boost our health,” says Dr. Elizabeth Pegg Frates, clinical assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Get Healthy, Get a Dog(www.health.harvard.edu/DOG). In a 2011 Italian study of women in their 80s, those who spent 90 minutes a week stroking, grooming, walking, or playing with a dog scored significantly higher on mental tests than they did before they were introduced to the dogs. They also scored higher than a control group of similar women who had no canine interaction. If you don’t want a live-in canine companion, consider volunteering at an animal shelter.
2. Color a picture
It’s little wonder that 12 million adult coloring books—based on topics ranging from endangered species to art nouveau designs—were sold in 2015. Crayon sales also jumped by $11 million. Creating art—even if it means coloring inside the lines—can be both stimulating and relaxing.
Moreover, according to a 2015 German study, actively creating art also improves spatial reasoning. The German researchers randomly assigned 28 retirees in their 60s to two groups, both of which met weekly for 10 weeks. One group took classes in which they drew, sculpted, or painted; the other went to museums and analyzed the art they viewed. Both groups underwent tests and brain MRI scans at the beginning and end of the study. The researchers determined that, compared with the people who analyzed art, those who created art had greater improvement in the ability to detect spatial relationships and more activity in the region of the brain responsible for spatial perception.
3.Play with a child
Last, but not least, if you’re a grandmother, you’re already familiar with the many benefits of grandparenting. The cognitive advantage was borne out in a 2014 report from the Women’s Healthy Aging Project, an ongoing Australian study. Among 186 women who were assessed using several standard mental tests, those who spent one day a week with a grandchild had the highest cognitive scores on most tests. However, the researchers also determined that caring for grandchildren five days a week was associated with lower cognitive performance, perhaps because of the stress of being a primary caregiver.
If you don’t have a grandchild, you may want to consider sitting for a neighbor child or volunteering at a day care center or after-school program one day a week. And you might also want to try walking the dog or coloring with your young companion!
Below are spiritual recipe for health and wellness: Matthew E. McLaren
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV
For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit? Romans 15:13 NIV
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 NIV
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40 NIV
Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:3 NIV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV
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