15 Ways to Boost Your Memory in Your 30s, 40s, 50s, and Beyond

Trying chopsticks, a Rubik’s cube, or a Wii could be simple, fun ways to stay sharp for life.

The 40s
Steal your kids toys
Theres a new version of that Rubiks Cube that you loved as kid. Its the 3-D-like Rubiks 360, and its probably good for brains of any age, because it sharpens flexible problem-solving skills, says neuropsychologist Karen Spangenberg Postal, PhD, president of the Massachusetts Psychological Association. The key: As you play, youre working on your memory, strategy, and spatial skills—all required for improving brain health—at the same time. What if you always found the Cube endlessly frustrating? No worries: Any game that stretches your thinking is helpful.

Just do it
Elevating your heart rate three times a week for 20 minutes—even just by walking—bathes your brain in oxygen and helps it grow new cells. “Aerobic exercise is two to three times as effective as any known brain-training activity,” says Sam Wang, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience at Princeton University and co-author of Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life. If you have no time for the gym during the week, thats OK: Recent research shows moderate to vigorous exercise even just once a week (say, a weekend jog) makes you 30 percent more likely to maintain your cognitive function as you age.

Start a bridge club
If book clubs bore you and dinner parties leave you exhausted, then maybe a brisk game of bridge is just what the doctor ordered. The combination of strategy and memory in bridge challenges the brain to learn new information and exercises cells so they dont die, Dr. Postal says. Plus, socializing while playing cards adds a level of unpredictability that gives your brain a charge—something solo games dont offer. Bridge is definitely on the comeback, so you can learn to play through a community college or continuing education program, or hire a private instructor for lessons.

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Last Updated: August 24, 2009

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