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Brain Power

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Exercises and games to sharpen your mental skills.

To keep your brain fit, give it a workout. As we age, blood flow to the brain slows, which leads to a decline in cognitive function. Try these exercises and activities to help sustain short-term memory, cognitive function and critical thinking.

For all-around brain health

Norman Abeles, Ph.D., Michigan State University professor emeritus of psychology, says physical activity is the most important tool for mental sharpness. Exercise boosts circulation, including blood flow to the brain. “The body and the brain work together,” says Abeles. “The more physically active you are, the more you stimulate nerve cells to keep the brain working effectively.”

For problem-solving and language skills

AARP offers a number of online games that challenge memory, problem-solving and language skills. Braingle offers more than 20,000 online brain teasers, riddles and logic problems to improve your “mentalrobics.”

For memory

Play a game of cards or chess. Solve crossword or jigsaw puzzles. Learn to dance or play a musical instrument. Share these activities with friends for dual mental sharpness and a happiness boost.

For cognitive ability

Brain fitness research company SharpBrains offers these cognitive challenges: To stimulate attention and working memory, try saying the days of the week backwards and then in alphabetical order. Calculate the sum of your date of birth. Name two objects for every letter in your first name. Whether an online game or a fierce chess battle, find a variety of activities you enjoy and engage in them on a daily basis.