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Senior Exercises That Can Help Improve Memory

5 min read

By Clarissa Vanner

The brain is an important organ that controls everything we do from emotions and motor skills to vision, breathing, body temperature, hunger, and memory. Just like other parts of your body, your brain needs to be cared for and exercised too.

While most older adults may be in good mental health, some are at risk for developing mental health disorders such as dementia and depression. The good news is there are many memory exercises you can start doing today to improve not only your memory but your focus and daily function too. Check out these 10 senior exercises that can help improve memory.

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Build Your Vocabulary

It’s never too late to build your vocabulary and doing so also happens to help improve your memory too. You can also turn a vocabulary lesson into a challenging brain game. Healthline explains, “Research shows that many more regions of the brain are involved in vocabulary tasks, particularly in areas that are important for visual and auditory processing.”

An easy way to build your vocabulary is to keep a notebook on hand. Every time you come across an unfamiliar word right it down and look up the definition. Then, the following day, try to use the new word at least five times. Repeat this exercise every time you come across a new word and you’ll increase your vocabulary in no time.


What better way to move your body than getting up to dance? Dancing doesn’t only benefit your physical health but it benefits your brain health too! The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), states that learning to dance can increase your brain’s processing speed and memory.

There are so many ways to get started. You can look for dance classes at studios and gyms in your area or you can start dancing at home! You may also enjoy trying this low-impact salsa dance workout. Our senior fitness expert, Meredith Chen, shares a workout video so you can follow along.

Try Tai Chi

Tai Chi is another great form of physical exercise that can benefit your brain health. Harvard Health explains, “In a meta-analysis of 20 studies on tai chi and cognition, tai chi appears to improve executive function—the ability to multitask, manage time, and make decisions—in people without any cognitive decline.”

They also mentioned that tai chi slowed the progression to dementia for those with mild cognitive impairment. There are also plenty of other benefits of tai chi for seniors such as improving your flexibility, balance, and coordination and so much more.

Try a New Hobby

It’s never too late to start a new hobby. In fact, starting a new hobby or rediscovering an old one may be able to improve your brain health.  This is because hobbies require you to learn something new which stimulates your brain all of which contribute to warding off cognitive decline and improving your memory.

There are so many hobbies you can try from painting and drawing to writing and cooking — the options are endless! For more ideas, check out these healthy hobbies seniors should try!

Learn a Musical Instrument

Have you ever wanted to learn to play the guitar or any other musical instrument? It’s never too late to learn! Listening to music has brain-boosting benefits but learning to play an instrument is the equivalent of a full-body workout for your brain.

Studies show that learning a new skill such as playing an instrument, can enhance memory in older adults. Check out this Ted-Ed video below that gives a brief explanation of how playing an instrument affects the brain.


What better way to spend retirement than to teach others the skills you’ve learned. Teaching can be socially stimulating but it can also benefit your brain too.

This is also a great way to learn new skills because teaching it to others allows you to practice the new skill. Healthline explains, “Teaching it to someone else requires you to explain the concept and correct any mistakes you make.” For example, you can learn how to play chess and then teach the game to a friend.

Try a New Route

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine. And routine can be a good thing but switching it up can also stimulate your brain. With that in mind, you should try new ways to do the same tasks.

Switching up your routine can be as simple as taking a new route to the grocery store. This will prevent your brain from going on autopilot and forces it to think to get you to your destination. It can also activate the cerebral cortex which is responsible for perception, memory, thought, and voluntary physical activity. Changing your route can also stimulate the hippocampus which has a major role in memory and learning.

Learn a New Language

Research shows that there are many cognitive benefits of being able to speak multiple languages. Being bilingual may improve your memory and visual-spatial skills. Healthline also explains, “Being fluent in more than one language may also help you switch more easily between different tasks, and delay the onset of age-related mental decline.”

Thankfully, it is never too late to start learning new languages. According to research, you can reap the benefits of learning a new language at any time in your life. To get started, search for online classes or you can look for classes at your local colleges and community centers.

Make a Puzzle

A jigsaw puzzle is not only fun to put together but it has brain-boosting benefits too! When making a puzzle you are required to look at the individual pieces to figure out where they fit and this causes your brain to think.

Not only does this reinforce connections between brain cells but research shows that it can help sharpen certain thinking skills. This includes processing speed, planning skills, reaction time, decision making, and short-term memory! So go ahead and dust off that puzzle you’ve been meaning to do and give it a try!

Play Word Games

Exercising your brain with a jigsaw puzzle isn’t the only way you can improve your memory. There are plenty of other games that can help too.

Some other brain-boosting exercises you can try include playing sudoku, crossword puzzles, as well as other numerical puzzles that require you to use mental math. Playing these games create new relationships between brain cells as well as reinforces connections between old ones. This is important for improving memory and helping you remember things.

Junior Managing Editor

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.



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