Use it or lose it. Everyone knows that physical exercise can keep our bodies healthy—just ask any of the millions of people who regularly visit a health club. New research tells us that we can also keep our brains fit with regular mental exercise. That's what this book is all about: mental aerobics that can give your memory a boost.
You don't have to be a “puzzle person” to enjoy this book. The puzzles here are made to engage your brain, not melt it down. It's similar to physical fitness where just walking can be beneficial; mountain climbing and marathon running are not required. The mental challenges here will lead you to those moments of creativity when your brain is perhaps building new pathways.
Why do we need to keep our brains mentally fit? Well, some people just want to confidently connect names to faces in social situations. Others want to reduce their number of “senior moments,” a euphemism for episodes of forgetfulness, which can happen at any age. For all of us, mental agility is increasingly important to be successful in the world today. In this information age we need sharp brains to keep us a float in a flood of data.
The good news is that scientific research suggests that mental aerobics can give our brains a boost. According to a study in the journal Nature, we can actually build brain mass by attempting mentally challenging tasks. In this study, volunteers spent three months learning to juggle (a mentally challenging task). Using MRI brain scans, it was discovered that the participants’ brains had increased in volume. When the participants gave up juggling, their brains shrank back to their previous sizes. This book won't teach you how to juggle, but it will present you with numerous brain-building challenges.
Many people believe that memory loss is inevitable as we age. Research indicates that this doesn't have to be the case. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2,802 participants age 65 and older received cognitive training for two hours per week for five weeks. A significant number of the participants improved their memory and cognitive abilities, and this improvement persisted for two years after the training. Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people could reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease by adding one mentally stimulating activity per week. Adding more activities, like working a crossword puzzle every day, was even better.
Research also points to lifestyle changes that can give your brain a boost. A healthy low-fat diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is important to keep your brain in peak condition. Staying physically fit benefits the brain as well as the rest of the body. And reducing stress will cut down on the mental wear and tear that keeps your mind from working efficiently. Doing all of these things, in addition to the mental aerobics in this book, can help give your memory a boost.
Motivation is important, so have fun as you start your training with these puzzles. Hopefully you will look forward to the challenges. There is a diversity of puzzles in this book, and some you will enjoy more than others. Give them all a chance—the ones that are the most frustrating at the start might become the most satisfying once they are mastered. It is OK to pick and choose from your favorites, but be sure to cross-train with a variety of puzzles for the most effective brain workout.
Your memory will work best if you have a positive, confident attitude. You can remember if you think you can! Getting this book and working these puzzles is a great start in boosting your memory.