The great philosopher Aristotle may have believed that we’re born knowing everything we’ll ever know, but our brains are actually remarkably elastic. Whether we’re getting ready for our very first day of school or enjoying our retirement, there are things we can do to boost our brain power every day.

Until they reach the not-so-terrible twos, babies’ brains – especially their motor and language skills – are growing by
leaps and bounds. That’s why reading to your wee ones is so important. Choose books that tell a story, focus on ABCs and showcase sorting and matching skills to help your kiddoes build their mental muscle.

From Candyland to Miss Congeniality: Games with clear sets of rules help kids learn to play well with others and recognize social boundaries. “Duck, Duck, Goose!” can teach your own little ducklings about patience and the values of winning (and losing) graciously. Physical play also fine-tunes a youngster’s motor coordination.

Sudoku may sound like the latest dance craze, but these puzzles are our brains’ BFFs, especially as we age. Like crosswords or jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku involves spatial reasoning, logic and evaluation, which keeps our minds nice and limber. So load up on pens, grab a table at your favorite coffee shop and Sudoku the night away.

Think with your heart, think with your head: It’s not an either/or anymore. Keeping your circulatory system in tip-top shape is a boon for your brain as well, since clogged arteries up your risk for heart disease and dementia. The good news is that lowering this risk has never been tastier. Cut the saturated and trans fats, limit refined grains and added sugars and replace them with fruits, veggies, whole grains and nuts.

The best defense against memory loss is a good offense. Staying active and learning new skills helps create new nerve pathways in the brain which can compensate for the ones that clog as we age. We can do something as simple as brush our teeth with a different hand or put ourselves in a trickier pickle by driving to a new place sans GPS.

Whether you’ve always wanted to learn the Foxtrot or fluent French, now is the time to give something new a try!

Visit our Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute for more information.