For many people, having a career or a regular job to go to provides an endless source of intellectual stimulation. But as you age and you cut down on work or retire altogether, finding ways to challenge your mind and keep the brain active can become more difficult.

But just like the rest of your body, the brain requires exercise to keep it healthy and well, so it’s important to find new ways to keep it stimulated. Keeping your mind active can help improve your mental health, memory, and problem-solving skills, and even boost your creativity and make you generally happier.

Here are some ways to stay connected, interested and never stop learning, to improve mental wellness and help keep your mind in tip top shape.

Try something new

Every time you try something new, you’re learning and challenging your mind, so think about things you’ve always wanted to do, and give them a go. It might be taking a course or class, from learning a new language, to mastering the art of pasta making, learning a musical instrument, or trying to create an artwork with water colours. AVA Communities lifestyle villages are designed with over 50s wellness in mind, and offer a range of courses and activities conveniently offered on site. It could also be as simple as shaking up your routine slightly, to keep your mind guessing. Try a different recipe, or even just walk or drive a different route when you’re heading somewhere.

Play a game

It might sound too good to be true, but a great way to help prevent declining cognitive function, particularly in older adults, is to play games. There are plenty of brain training games available for free online or as an app, but you only need to put pen to paper with a crossword puzzle or Sudoku to help keep the brain sharp. For some friendly, in-person competition, head to the AVA community centre where you could get some friendly competition going over a game of cards, Mahjong, chess, Scrabble or pool.

Find a volunteer opportunity

Got a bit of time on your hands? Why not try volunteering? While volunteering is all about helping others, it can help you more than you might realise. It’s not only a way to meet new people, but also improve your mood, give you a sense of purpose and belonging, and yes, exercise your mind. All that, while also making a difference in other people’s lives.

Read often

Whether it’s a novel, non-fiction, the news, a magazine, a blog, or even a pamphlet, reading helps keep your brain working, and makes it stronger. Pop into the library at the AVA community centre to find a new read.

Move your body

Moving the rest of your body also helps keep your mind clear and firing. Choose your favourite way to move, whether it’s going for a walk, a swim, having a game of bowls or going for a cycle, and try and do it regularly. AVA Communities lifestyle villages also offer a range of health classes, like aqua aerobics, Zumba, yoga, pilates, or Tai Chi. Head along and try out a class you’ve never been to before to give your brain a double dose of goodness.

Looking for over 50s lifestyle living? The AVA Communities lifestyle villages at Geelong and Yarrawonga are designed to support over 50s wellness, and make it easier for you to find ways to keep your mind healthy, active and firing. Click here to find out more.