Use it or lose it: take online memory test

HAVE YOU ever done a cryptic crossword or a Sudoku puzzle?

They both require thinking outside the square and even though they can be a little bit frustrating at times, they are fun and challenging.

Once you hit middle age, there's more emphasis on maintaining a healthy brain and scientific research suggests that leading a brain-healthy life may reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and may also minimise the onset of dementia later in life.

Pt Vernon residents Robyn and Bill Salt attend Kerrie Marshall's Brain-A-Size classes on Monday mornings from 10 o'clock at Halcro St Community Centre.

Bill has had several strokes and Robyn said he had shown great improvement.

"It has improved his balance in just a month and his hand eye co-ordination is better," Robyn said.

"I'm hoping too that it will improve my mind as it's like a sieve. But at least it gets you moving and concentration is certainly improved.

"It's so lovely to see Bill looking forward to going to Brain Gym.

Your brain is your most precious asset and making sure it's healthy and looked after should be your first priority. Everyday there's something that challenges us and forces us to think.

We need to meet those challenges with new activities to build new brain cells and strengthen connections.

YourLifeChoices offer suggestions on how to look after your brain so it lasts you for a long time.

Look after your heart by getting physically active as physical activity increases blood flow to the brain stimulating brain cell growth.

What you eat can affect your brain so a healthy, balanced diet helps in maintaining brain health and also help reduce the risk of dementia.

Being sociable has benefits that reach far wider than improved cognitive functioning.

Social activity increases mental stimulation and may contribute to building brain reserve, which then contributes to a lower dementia risk.

Social activities that involve mental and physical activity, such as dancing and team sports, provide greater benefit for brain health and reduces depression.

If you understand your normal memory function then you are more likely to be aware when you start to forget things you shouldn't.

Keeping your memory sharp by taking the occasional online memory test will enable you to work out a base level at which your memory normally functions.

Take the online memory test at