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Keep Learning to Keep Thriving: Five Ways to Stay Sharp

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Lifelong learning doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Forget those things you hated in school. (Goodbye, long division). You’re an adult. With the possible exception of being clothed in public, everything is optional. The key to enjoying learning is playing to your interests.

Think About It

Experts agree that lifelong learning keeps your brain functioning at its best. Actively engaging your brain will not erase biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease but has been shown to delay the onset of symptoms. One University of Texas study concludes that acquiring new skills results in noticeable memory improvement in older adults.

Research also indicates that social engagement is one of the most important factors in longevity and quality of life. Learning something new connects you with other people.

So where to begin?

Pick It Up

Books. Read them. Not only do books make you better informed, reading reduces stress levels significantly—even if you read for under ten minutes.

Kick It Up

Dance engages the mind and body. Automatic retention! Start in the privacy of your own home and, when the time is right, blow them away at your favorite nightspot.

Kick It Old School

Take a lecture-style class. Want to make it stick? Engage in a way that moves beyond watching videos. The simple task of taking notes by hand will improve retention.

Investigate pay sites that stream lectures, often at a low cost. Free options include Massive Open Online Courses, Khan Academy, and, of course, YouTube.

Learn a Language

Among numerous benefits,  learning another language makes you think in ways that you normally don’t. Plus, what could be more romantic than ordering from the menu en Français?

Make Some Noise

Picking up a musical instrument can reduce stress and improve your reaction times, your memory, and even your hearing. Not sure what to try? The ukulele is inexpensive, beginner-friendly, and portable. It’s also quiet enough that you (probably) won’t annoy your neighbors.

How are you keeping up the learning as you move through adulthood? We want to know. Share your lifelong learning journey with us on social media with the hashtag #HancockHealthChallenge!

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