Crossword puzzle

Maintaining Cognitive Health with Brain Exercises

As the weather turns colder and winter sets in, indoor activities such as watching TV, playing board and card games, and doing arts and crafts become more popular. While all are enjoyable ways to pass the time—especially if you’re homebound due to snowy conditions outside—there are some activities you should consider doing more of this winter, as they’ve been shown to help maintain cognitive health.

“Multiple studies have shown that people who do more algorithmic exercises and activities tend to have better cognitive health,” explains Sumeet S. Multani, MD, MBBS, director of Bayhealth’s Department of Neurology and Stroke. “These algorithmic exercises help strengthen the neuroplasticity of the lateral part of the frontal cortex of the brain. The frontal cortex helps with organization and is responsible for skills and personality.”

Examples of algorithmic exercises and activities that can help improve or maintain cognitive health are Sudoku, crossword and word search puzzles, etc. “You can do these on your smartphone, tablet or computer, or complete crosswords and similar puzzles printed in the newspaper,” said Dr. Multani. “There are also online resources and tools that can help you assess your cognitive health and many offer free brain exercises.”

Dr. Multani says, as with exercising your muscles to maintain physical function and health, your brain needs to be worked out. “Using your brain is critical for cognitive maintenance,” he said. “In a patient who has dementia, the frontal cortex of the brain is atrophied. There is also some evidence that algorithmic and brain exercises and activities may delay age-related onset of dementia.”