Recently, there has been a surge in the numbers of older adults enrolling in college — a number higher than ever before. The percentage of adults who choose to go back to school is expected to rise to 43.2 percent by 2020. Adult students, also called non-traditional students, seek a college degree or higher credentials at a later stage in life for many different reasons: to advance or change their careers, to improve their chances of a good pension after retirement, or to keep their skills sharp at a current job.
Improved memory and faster learning become highly desired traits for many hardworking students. Here’s a list of some of the most effective ways that adult students can train their brains to become more skilled and efficient.
“Brain Foods” are a Real Thing
The food you eat has a lot to do with how your brain functions. Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, good fats, and minerals are great for the brain. So when you focus on providing your body with whole, nutritious foods, you’re actually benefiting your mind and helping it stay sharp and in tip-top condition. However, not all brain foods are present in your everyday, healthy diet. This is why supplements are a great way for adult students to get the nutrients they need to boost brain power.
Avocados contain both Vitamin K and folate in healthy doses, and help avoid blood clots from forming in the brain as well as developing cognitive functions, especially memory and concentration. Other great brain foods include beets, celery, bone broth, coconut oil, dark chocolate, egg yolk, salmon, green leafy vegetables, and walnuts. Simply munching on a few walnuts a day can improve cognitive health considerably. They contain high levels of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, all of which improve mental alertness.
Exercising Stimulates Your Brain
When you exercise, you encourage your brain to function at an increased capacity through the stimulation of nerve cells, thus strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage. Proteins known as neurotrophic factors are released by nerve cells during exercise. Some of these important proteins trigger other brain chemicals that directly benefit cognitive functions like learning new information.
Studies show that individuals who engage in regular exercise grow and expand the brain’s memory center by about 1 to 2 percent per year. A comprehensive program including core work, stretching, high-intensity interval exercise, and strength training, are all great ways to get the most brain-influencing effects from exercise. At Fitness Expo, you can find a variety of high quality fitness equipment that you can try.
Play Brain Games to Boost Memory Capacity
The brain begins to deteriorate when it’s insufficiently challenged with new and surprising information. This is good news for you, since you’re already providing necessary challenges to your brain by going back to school.
Brain games should ideally be played for at least 20 minutes a day, with no more than 5 to 7 minutes spent on a single task. The benefits of brain games on the memory and learning start to reduce when longer periods of time are spent on a task. This occurs because the first five to six minutes of the task hold the primary benefits of the game for the brain. As long as schooling doesn’t take up too much of your time, brain games can be utilized for their cognitive benefits.
However, not everyone enjoys playing games, so learning a new skill or consistently practicing a hobby can also help to improve memory. Practicing a skill or a hobby that’s meaningful and holds your attention creates needed engagement for the brain, which can also improve brain function.