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Just like your body, your mind gets stronger when it works out. 

We used to think that "you can’t teach an old dog new tricks". However, new research is showing that the brain can adapt and change at all life stages, even in later life. 

Mental exercise helps to build new brain cells and strengthen connections between them. This helps to give your brain more ‘reserve’ or ‘back up’ so that it can cope better and keep working properly if any brain cells are damaged or die. 

There’s no guarantee that mental exercise will prevent dementia, but it will keep your mind and brain in their best condition as you get older. 

What you can do 

Mental exercise means giving your mind a mix of interesting, challenging, fun things to do. That’s different for everyone, but here are a few suggestions: 

  • reading 
  • crosswords, and other puzzles and games 
  • painting 
  • sewing 
  • woodwork 
  • cooking 
  • playing an instrument 
  • taking a course 
  • learning a language. 

Only you know what will work for you. Just trying new things is good for your brain, so if you get a little out of your comfort zone, you’re already making a good start. 

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Last updated
18 December 2023