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Don’t forget to keep training your brain

In recent years we have made some fascinating discoveries about the brain. We now know that the brain retains its plasticity throughout life, which is the brain’s ability to continually change and adapt. Continuing to train your brain and learn new things are key to plasticity, meaning the more you learn, the more you’re able to learn.

We have also learnt that a physically active life and good sleep, both important for people with osteoarthritis, help us maintain our brain plasticity.

How can we make sure we’re giving our brain the opportunities it needs to stay plastic? Does it matter what we learn or is it the process of learning that makes the difference?

The evidence suggests that it’s the learning process. Learning to juggle balls, it’s been shown, can lead to an increase in brain grey matter. Less surprisingly, it’s been shown that computer-based training can improve a range of brain functionality measures, including sustained enhancement of memory in older people.

Activities to help keep your mind active:

    • problem solving, e.g. challenging crossword puzzles
    • reading a book
    • learning a new hobby or skill such as a language
    • dancing

To maximise our brain health, we should aim to combine mental, physical and social stimulation, as there is evidence that the combination is greater than the sum of its parts.

So, remember to keep learning and seize every opportunity to try new and thought-provoking things.