The brain is a complex and amazing organ controlling everything in your body, from organ functions, to limb movements, to processing emotions―the list goes on! This is why caring for your brain is no less important than caring for the rest of your body.

Just as people go to the gym or maintain healthy diets to feel their best and prevent disease, we should also be performing certain activities to prevent or slow the onset of memory loss and maintain a healthy brain. So, what can you do to keep a fit mind?

Keep That Brain Stimulated

Giving your mind a work-out of its own has been shown to be a huge part of maintaining a healthy brain. According to a 2003 article published in the Canadian Journal of CME, there is a direct relationship between mental activity and brain development, as well as a direct link between this type of activity and preventing brain dementia.

There are many ways to keep yourself mentally stimulated on a regular basis: read in your spare time, play mentally stimulating games such as Sudoku, crosswords, bridge, or chess, practice memory exercises, and commit to lifelong learning by learning a new language or registering for a course at your local adult center, senior center, or community college.

Stay Physically Active

In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Neurology, researchers state that physical exercise can be effective in diminishing or limiting the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, exercise that raises your heart rate will increase the blood flow to your brain and throughout your body, which triggers numerous neurobiological mechanisms in the brain tissues. The researchers also mention that physical exercise can maintain and even improve cognitive and motor functions in healthy individuals.

Don’t disregard this one if you have some physical limitations. Joining the gym is not the only way to keep your body moving; try walking, swimming, a level-appropriate aerobics class, dance class, or gardening. The main point here is to get 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week to achieve regular brain stimulation. Just be sure to consult with your doctor before trying anything you’re not sure about.

Be a Social Butterfly

Keeping strong social connections is equally important for the mind. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology demonstrated that a rich social network and mentally stimulating activities may protect against dementia and preserve mental functioning in the elderly. You might want to consider joining a local club of interest, volunteering, or going out with a friend to see a movie or visit a museum.

What should we be taking away from all this? Engaging in mental, physical, and social activities is vital, even when we are young. On the other hand, there is still much that you can do as a senior. Keep the ball in your court and start taking control of your mental health today, rather than waiting for your doctor to advise you to make lifestyle changes.