You can keep your brain as healthy and fit as your body by engaging in social activities, being more physically active, and challenging yourself mentally. There are ways to give your brain its own workout routine that involves real-world activities.

Regular exercise like taking a brisk walk in the park, gardening or yoga can nourish your brain and may be even more important than using your brain to think. Exercise reduces stress by increasing the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

Putting your mind in gear with mental stimulation is essential to all round brain health. Listening to music (or even better) learning to play an instrument, playing cards, taking a cooking class, learning a foreign language, and playing sports that utilize both mind and body, such as dance or tennis all contribute to living a brain-healthy lifestyle. Novel experiences trigger the release of dopamine, the “motivation” neurotransmitter and stimulates the creation of new neurons.

Good nutrition can help your mind as well as your body. Eat your way to a better brain by keeping your calories in check, reducing your consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, and remember your B vitamins, B6 and B12 which help fight against dementia, and folic acid. Avoid tobacco and reduce your alcohol consumption.

Staying socially active has been associated with lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy. Anytime you connect with others, you expose yourself to new ideas and ways of thinking. Step out of your comfort zone and seek out others with different interests and hobbies.

Living a brain-healthy lifestyle works! Our brains thrive on variety to keep those synapses firing. The more kinds of mentally stimulating activities we engage in, the happier and healthier we will be.