Getting sweaty at the gym or running around a tennis court are not the only ways to remain agile and keep the years at bay. In fact studies have proven that regularly doing sudoku or crosswords can be just as an important tool in the fight for eternal youth.
Puzzles involving words and numbers are just as important as keeping fit and ‘thinking young’ according to neuroscientist Professor Ian Robertson, Director of the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin. He said challenging mental tasks such as crosswords and sudoko could give the brain a much-needed workout.
Any time you stretch your brain and try something new, especially using different parts of your brain and thinking in a different way, you’re helping to sharpen your mind and keep it that way.
He said that memory problems are not necessarily an inevitable part of ageing and suggested that simple word games, used frequently, can help boost memory. The brain is often described as a muscle and it stands to reason that is must be kept in shape through diet, mental stimulation, cutting stress and behaving in a youthful fashion.
“Our bodies are all getting healthier and we are living longer and the biggest threat to being able to enjoy that is the functioning of our brains,” he told the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Dublin. “But people can significantly reduce cognitive decline by some relatively simple training exercises.” He said a study of 3,000 men and women between 65 and 94 found just ten sessions of brain power training improved their mental age by between seven and 14 years.
Furthermore the American Alzheimer’s Association has endorsed sudoku as a ‘brain game’ that might help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and some researchers believe that playing mentally stimulating games and puzzle games like sudoku might be a good way to reduce our risk of dementia as we get older. Although the science is not definitive on this subject, it’s worth thinking about.
However Professor Robertson also stressed that keeping physically fit through aerobic exercise was vital to mental agility, as well as avoiding stress (as it releases chemicals that can erode brain connections) and maintaining a healthy diet that includes fish oil, fruit and vegetables which all help in keeping the brain in good condition as well as being good for your body.
Mind and body working in harmony? Sounds like the perfect combination to us!