Exercise for the brain

Ways to build brainpower as we age

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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To exercise your body you may go to the gym. But what's the best way to exercise your mind? Cleveland Clinic neurologist Dr. Jagan Pillai says one of the best ways to build brainpower is to learn a new skill.

"It could be anything from learning a language or instrument, or even pottery, or painting, you know, it depends on what really interests you and what really engages you because if we're learning a skill it's considerably over a long period of time," he said.

Pillai says when you're learning a new skill you're building working memory.
Working memory is important for multi-tasking and allows you to do things like answer your phone, but then remember where you put your keys down soon after.

Social interaction also helps exercise your brain. When you're talking and listening, you're engaging your brain. Pillai says even something like a daily dance lesson or bridge game will work.

"Things that improve your attention, or improve your skill and any activities that improve attention or skill tends to be very useful and helpful for your brain," he said.

Pillai recommends eating a healthy diet and working out regularly because both play a role in having a healthy brain.

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