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How to Keep Your Mind and Body Sharp this Winter

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When temperatures get cooler and the days get shorter, it’s easy to stay inside and wait for the summer to arrive. The trouble with that is staying sedentary even for a few months can have longlasting effects on your mental and physical health.

That’s why it’s important to make plans for winter activities that will enrich your life, and give you something enjoyable to experience each week. Here’s how to keep your mind and body sharp this winter:

Hit the Books

You’ve heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” Studies have backed up the cliché. Brain stimulation increases long-term memory. There are many ways to get daily brain exercise, including games such as mahjong and card games, crosswords and word puzzles, and more. You may even consider taking free online classes where you can learn something new and keep your mind in tip-top shape.

Reading is both a favored past-time and important tool for keeping your mind sharp. As you read, you’ll automatically have to remember characters and scenes for the context to make sense. Both physical and online books achieve the same memory-boosting effects.

Seek Fun and Games

So-called ‘mind benders’ and memory games improve creativity and decision-making abilities. Board games, jigsaw puzzles, and even video games employ nearly all the senses, which helps keep both the mind and body refreshed and energized.

Music is another beneficial outlet. The act of learning notes, scales, and chords will force your brain to retain and pull information each time you play. You can also join like-minded individuals, and reap the social benefits musical groups provide. Most community programs don’t require expert training.

Get Active

Just as with machines that rust and seize up following long periods of non-use, our bodies require regular activity for optimal function. Taking a brisk walk is a great way to get in your daily exercise. If you’re unable to walk, seek low impact calisthenics and yoga options that allow you to remain seated.

Weight training is also important to maintain muscle memory. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym. Instead, simply lifting cans of vegetables or performing isometric exercises prevents muscle loss.

Socialize

Humans are social creatures, and we need regular communication to maintain mental health. Social activity helps prevent depression and feelings of loneliness. Studies have found that it can also reduce the risk of dementia. This is especially important if you live alone.

There are many clubs and special interest groups you can join to get daily social contact. In the event you’re unable to get out of the house as often as you’d like, consider joining online hobby groups, or connecting with friends and family using technology, such as video calling.

Wintertime doesn’t have to mean hibernation and a period of recluse. Instead, make this season one to learn, laugh, and keep your mind and body in order.

We are fortunate in Volusia County to have many senior centers where you can not only interact with like-minded individuals, but also enjoy meals, receive important services, and more. Visit the “Our Services” and “Senior Centers and Dining Sites” sections to learn more.


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