As we move into the fall, our thoughts turn to getting back into the routine of the year. Remember when that routine included school? It still should. Why? Chances are getting schooled is just the kind of workout your brain can use.

Numerous studies have shown that staying intellectually engaged throughout our lifetime benefits brain health. Several longitudinal studies have found that folks who participate in such activities on a regular basis have an associated reduced risk for developing serious memory disorders later in life. Such activities provide us with novel challenges, and encourage the development of new neural pathways and greater synaptic density (otherwise known as more connections between the cells of our brain). Experts theorize that the benefit of these activities may not actually protect us from neurological diseases, but rather may give us more cognitive “reserve”, so that if disease strikes the overt effects or symptoms of the disease process are delayed and may not even be experienced (since these are on the whole diseases of age).

Getting your brain “back to school” ready isn’t all that difficult. Fall seems to offer a whole host of opportunities to engage our minds. Look for things to do that get you to think out of your own comfort zone and challenge you in a new way. Much like a new class or new teacher might have done in high school or college. Adding just one activity like this to your fall schedule will give your brain a boost.

Here are some tips for setting your own brain health curriculum this fall:

Choose Your Course. What exactly is it you want to do with your brain improvement plan? Learn a new language? Take a course you never got to when you were younger? Master a new skill that will benefit you at work? Or try something totally different, such as awaking your inner Picasso or finally getting to a meditation class? Pick a goal for the season, making sure that it is something you really want to do (otherwise you’ll lose interest) and can realistically accomplish.

Set the Syllabus. Once you’ve picked your course, determine what you need in place to get there. Can you find a class on the topic? Or study on your own? How about taking a class online? What books do you need? What other resources are out there? Take the time to organize yourself by setting a syllabus (a plan for the course) and a resource list, including books, etc.

Get Ready, Get Set, Go! Once you’ve organized your brain health curriculum, the only thing left is to get started. Register for those classes, get your books or other materials, and circle that start date in red on your calendar.

Need some suggestions for getting started on schooling your brain this fall? Look for classes at your local adult school, university, museum or recreational center. Often these places offer entry-level classes or lectures across a variety of great topics that don’t require a major time commitment on your part. You can also check out classes on-line – I am teaching our own online courses this fall called TBH ThinkShops, where you can learn a lot about a brain healthy topic in just one hour. So you even have the chance to make your brain health curriculum about brain health! And don’t forget to take the chance on topics you never learned in school. Get yourself to that yoga class, take up bird watching, plan that trip for next summer, all good choices for your brain health course.

So happy fall to all – School’s back in session!

Happy Memories!

Dr. Green

Author's Bio: 

Cynthia R. Green, Ph.D., is one of America’s foremost memory fitness and brain health experts. Dr. Green is the founder and president of Memory Arts, LLC, a company that provides memory fitness and brain health training to organizations, corporations, and individuals. She is also an acclaimed author, respected lecturer, and sought-after spokesperson known for her engaging and personable presentation style. Dr. Green has appeared on Good Morning America, The Early Show, 20/20, Fox News, CNBC, and National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation,” as well as in the pages of Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The London Standard, Good Housekeeping, Prevention, and Parenting, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Dr. Green received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from New York University. Since 1990, she has served on the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she is currently an assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry. Dr. Green is a recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, having served as co-principal investigator on a number of clinical trials that evaluated treatments for this condition.