Everyone knows about the benefits of physical exercise to our overall health, but what do you know about your keeping your mind healthy?

Let’s talk about the strongest muscle in our body: our brain.

For the young and healthy, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s may seem like a faraway notion. But the reality is sobering—over 40 million people are affected by dementia and all of its various forms. With no real cure available, we can only try our best to prevent the possibility of a cognitive decline. One such way to go about this is through regular brain exercises.

Just as a regular workout can benefit your body and help you stay fit in your later years, constant mental stimulation can keep your brain in tiptop shape too.

Here are some things you can do as early as your 50’s to delay memory loss and dementia:

1. Challenge yourself with some brain games

Games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles are a lot like giving your brain a workout. They engage your mind and are a much productive use of your time. So rather than mindlessly scrolling through your phone, why not download apps that can help you improve your cognitive functions?

Actionable tip: always keep it novel. Sure, a crossword or Sudoku may be stimulating at first, but after your 50th game, your brain will no longer feel as challenged. Grow new neurons and keep them sharp by constantly trying out new and challenging things.

2. But, yes, you should still exercise

The good news is that by exercising, you can hit two birds with one stone. You can keep your body healthy and your mind as sharp as ever. After all, plenty of studies link physical health to cognitive functions. So go ahead and lace up your running shoes, hit the weights room, or simply dance to a catchy new song.

3. Enjoy the beat

While we’re on the topic, listening or singing along to music can help too. Music, in general, is particularly stimulating enough as it is. Even better, singing along and recalling the lyrics to your favorite songs can keep your brain honed.

If dancing is more your forte, then that’s fine too. It’s a great way to practice hand, feet, and brain coordination.

4. Work with your hands and create something

We know that doing knitting and needlepoint may encourage the common assumption that this is how the older folks spend most of their days. However, there’s actually a connection between working with your hands and keeping your mind sharp.

Actionable tip: trying your hand at painting and woodworking are good ideas too.

5. Nurture positive relationships

Socializing and staying engaged in your community will help your brain stay active. Find the time to spend more time with the people you love and create memories that you can keep well into your old age. Not only will this help you stay happier, but studies show that nurturing positive relationships can protect you against memory loss too.

Actionable tip: volunteering is a great way to meet and talk to new people. Enlist in a cause that you are passionate about so you can engage with a community of like-minded individuals.

6. Find your zen

Of course, with the current state of affairs, there’s so much room for apprehension and doubt. However, when you’re constantly worried, your mind becomes overclouded with anxiety and negative thoughts. Now, who can think and remember properly in such a headspace?

Finding your zen and allowing a few moments of silence daily can be such a good practice for your brain. Not only will you ease your stress, but with meditation, you’ll also be able to concentrate better, improve your memory, make sound decisions.

7. Drink up

There is a right time and occasion for alcohol, but we’re talking about good ol’ H20 in this section.

We cannot stress the importance of water enough. Keeping hydrated will not only give you better skin and a well-functioning body, but it will also help your mind stay sharper. It is essential to your brain’s health. Studies suggest that when you’re thirsty, you cannot tackle cognitive tasks as productively as you would when you’re properly hydrated. So, you better start drinking the recommended 8 – 10 glasses a day to stave off Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

8. Learn a new language

Ok, so traveling may seem like a tall order in today’s world order — especially for us who may be more advanced in age — but don’t let this be an excuse that will keep you from learning that foreign language that you’ve always been fascinated about.

Being bilingual, even if you have learned your second language a bit later in life, has many benefits. One of which is protection against dementia. Studies show that those bilingual speakers are able to keep their minds sharper than those who only speak one language.