Let’s face it: we Boomers are aging. It’s not our favorite thing in life, but it is inevitable. And it really doesn’t have to be so bad, especially if we’re taking excellent care of not only our bodies but, maybe more importantly, our minds.

We all know that we should be fueling our bodies through healthy eating and exercise. If we don’t, we lose muscle and energy and potentially gain excess fluff. Our brains are similar. If we’re not regularly stimulating our brains, they simply don’t work as well. Is there anything we can do to keep our brains in tip-top shape and maybe even protect it from future dementia?

The answer is yes! Let me tell you how:

Be a lifelong learner.

No matter how much you know now, there is always more to learn. The key to using learning as a tool to exercise your brain is to learn something new on a regular basis. As soon as it’s not new anymore, it’s not stimulating your brain the way it needs to be stimulated. Learn a new language, become a history buff, take up piano, read lots of books. Pursue learning!

Switch up the daily routine.

Most of us could mosey through our day without hardly waking our brains at all. While it’s good to have routine to simplify life, if you never switch things up, your brain is turning into forgetful mush. Do something out of the ordinary at random. Take an unfamiliar route to work. Use your non dominant hand for a day. Walk backwards through every doorway. Close your eyes while you brush your teeth or fold the laundry. Read a book out loud and maybe add voices.

Get out on the town.

Social interaction is essential to brain health. It’s great to get together with your usual group of fellow boomers, but stepping outside of your comfort zone by visiting places you’ve never been and interacting with people you’ve never met can really get those synapsis firing. Consider going so far as to visit a different culture and country.

Stay physically active.

Your brain loves regular exercise! You’re not just building muscle in your arms when you hit the gym. Your brain actually enlarges, too. The increased blood flow impacts most areas in your brain. There’s actually evidence that any kind of regular exercise can be more effective than any Alzheimer’s medication on the market!

Do things the hard way.

When you take a different route to work, choose one that you’re not confident with. You can always turn on the GPS if you get hopelessly lost, but what’s the harm in getting just a little lost? It might be beneficial! Try to do more things without the help of technology, like math or spelling or looking up a word in an actual dictionary. Memorize a piece on the piano or a poem or the state capitals. Make life hard for your brain so your brain can make life easier for you!

Turn off the noise.

There’s so much noise in our lives today that our brains are no longer listening. We have music playing in the car or as we exercise. The TV is on constantly. We’re calling and texting and Facebooking all day long. The very best exercise we can give our brains is to turn it all off. To be quiet for an uncomfortable amount of time. Toss aside the to-do list that’s running through your head and just be still.

It’s never too late (or too early) to put these things into practice. Keeping your mind in tip-top shape is a no-brainer!