Ah, those lazy, hazy days of summer. Think vacations. Think school breaks. It seems like a good time for the entire family to just chill and not do any heavy mental lifting.
As tempting as that may sound, however, maintaining good brain health is a year-round activity. Here are a few fun and easy ways to help keep everyone’s brain healthy this summer:
Get physical. Head outside with the kids for some hiking or biking—aerobic exercise gets the heart pumping. And that helps keep the brain fed with a healthy supply of blood and oxygen. Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. One large study linked fitness in midlife with a reduced risk for dementia in older age.
Just make sure all bike riders wear a helmet—it helps protect the brain from trauma in case of an accident or fall.
Be a brainiac. Read a book while lounging at the beach. Break out word games for family game night. Challenging your mind may have immediate and lasting benefits for your brain.
Serve some food for thought. Summer is the perfect time to head to your local farmers market. Diets high in fruits and vegetables are brain pleasers. Stock up on a rainbow of colors, including:
• Dark-colored vegetables, like kale, spinach, broccoli and beets.
• Berries—blue, black and red.
• Cherries and plums.
Also, when firing up the grill, throw on some salmon, trout, mackerel or other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the brain.
And, finally, don’t forget that all-time favorite summer food—corn on the cob. Don’t slather it with butter and salt: Heart-healthy diets that limit saturated fat and sodium may also protect against dementia.
Go easy on the wallet. Big summer adventures don’t have to come at a big price. A bottle of bubbles or a box of sidewalk chalk can go a long way in igniting the imagination. A trip to the nearest public park in the cool of the evening can foster new friendships and and foster collective creativity.