4. Try something new
If you’ve ever wanted to pick up the violin or learn Spanish, now is the time to do it. Learning something brand new-particularly an instrument or a language-after the age of 25 is a great way to keep the brain lively, and the harder you find it, the better! “The fact that it is effortful is good for the brain,” explains Rockwood. Think about learning to salsa dance: you may have to do the basic steps hundreds of times, but at some point, you’ll be able to stop counting and start dancing-that’s when you know your brain has got it down pat. Until then, your brain is busily building all sorts of important new connections. Then, when you’ve mastered the skill, it’s time to take up something new.
5. Play a brain-boosting game
Whether it’s a crossword puzzle or a game of Sudoku, doing challenging puzzles is a way of activating the brain-and a surefire way to help keep it sharp. “It is believed that games help you make more connections in the brain,” explains Diamond, “and that may increase the levels of growth factors.” Ultimately, he says, games are a great way to work your mind because they “cause you to think and not to vegetate.”
But, warns Rockwood, it’s important to keep challenging yourself: once a particular game gets too easy, your brain isn’t benefitting anymore. “Learning how to play bridge is beneficial,” he explains, “but playing your 10,000th game? Not so much.”