7 BRAIN EXERCISE TO KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP
Although you may know that exercise is important for your body, did know that exercise can also benefit your mind? You may have heard the phrase “use it, or lose it.” This maxim is believed to be true by many researchers.
Brain training is a hot topic these days. It’s often marketed as a way of sharpening your mind and increasing intelligence. Many cognitive scientists believe that brain training claims are exaggerated and misleading. However, there is a lot of evidence that certain activities may be beneficial to your brain’s health.
1. Take care of your health to take care of your brain
You must take care of yourself if you want to take good care of your mind.
Research has repeatedly shown that those who exercise regularly and eat well are less likely to suffer from cognitive declines as a result of aging.
According to studies from 2006, exercise may make you smarter and help protect your brain against shrinkage.
A 2013 study looked at healthy behavior in almost 2,300 men over the span of 30 years. Researchers followed the progression of participants throughout their lives, beginning in middle age. They looked at cognitive abilities and behaviors.
Researchers found that dementia and cognitive impairment are less common in men who have practiced healthy lifestyles.
Healthy behaviors include not smoking, keeping a healthy body mass index, exercising regularly, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and drinking a moderate to low amount of alcohol.
If you want to improve your mental health, first work on your physical well-being. Take a walk and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Also, try to quit smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. While some of these may be more difficult than others but you’ll thank your brain for years to come.
2. Make a map of your town from memory
You might think you know how to navigate your neighborhood, but you may not be able to see the street. Try drawing a map from your memory of your area or town. No cheating! Include major streets, major side streets, as well as local landmarks.
After you’re done, you can compare your memory map with a map of the actual area. What did you find? Did you find any surprises? If this is too difficult for you, draw a smaller area of memory such as a map of Europe or the United States and label each state.
When you’re driving your car, it might seem easy and almost effortless to navigate your way to the grocery store or doctor’s offices. But, it is important to force yourself to recall the layout of your neighbourhood and draw and label it. This activates a number of brain areas.
3. Discover Something New
Although this brain exercise takes some effort, it can be very rewarding and could give you the best bang for your buck. You can keep your brain stimulated and challenged by learning something new.
Researchers assigned older adults to learn new skills, including digital photography and quilting. The researchers then performed memory tests and compared experimental groups with control groups. The control group had enjoyed activities that were both entertaining and mentally challenging, such as listening to radio or watching movies.
Researchers found that memory tests performed better for those who had previously learned a new skill.
These memory improvements were also found to be still present when the test was repeated a year later.
You might consider learning a language, playing a musical instrument, or learning a new hobby. You will not only be able to stretch your mind but also learn something new every time you expand your skills and become more accomplished.
4. Use Your Non-Dominant Hand
Next up is an interesting brain exercise suggested by a neurobiologist that might “keep your brain healthy.”
Lawrence Katz, a neurobiologist, recommends that you use your non-dominant handed to improve your mind in his book Keep your Brain Alive:83 Neurobic Exercises To Help Prevent Memory Loss & Increase Mental Fitness. It can be difficult to use your opposite hand, so it can be a great way for brain activity.
Switch hands when you’re eating dinner, or while you’re writing something down. Although it will be hard, this is what you need to do.
It is not always easy to do brain activities that are most beneficial.
Next is an activity you likely do every day but might not be aware of its potential benefits for your mental health.
5. Connect More With People
Research from 2019 suggests that people who are active socially are at lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Socializing can engage multiple brain areas. Many social activities include physical elements such as playing a sport that are also beneficial for your mind.
Even if your personality is introverted, social interaction can benefit your brain both in the short-and long-term. You can stay socially connected by signing up to volunteer in your local community, joining a club or signing up for a walking group.
6. Meditate Everyday
Next is a brain exercise that has been around for thousands and years but has recently gained a lot more attention because of its effectiveness.
Meditation is a brain exercise that you may not have thought of. Particularly, mindfulness meditation is a hot topic right now, as it’s being promoted by positive psychologists, business leaders and other health professionals. Consider the evidence supporting meditation’s many benefits before you dismiss this ancient Buddhist tradition as too modern.
According to studies from 2007, mindfulness meditation may be able to help activate new neural pathways. This can lead to improved self-observation and greater mental flexibility.
Research from 2007 also showed that meditation can improve focus, attention, empathy, and even immunity. Meditation may even be able to increase working memory capacity, according to studies.
Do you want to give this brain exercise a try? Here’s a short guide on how to practice mindfulness meditation. These tips will help you incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
After you have tried these brain exercises, it is possible to wonder if there are any online “brain training” websites that might help. Let’s now see if these apps, websites, and programs are worth your time.
7. Play Some Brain Training Games
There are many brain training apps, websites and games that you have probably heard of. These tools claim that computerized brain exercises can improve your mental flexibility, make you smarter and keep you sharper as you get older.
Although there are still many questions about the validity of these claims, it is possible that these mental games can be beneficial for your brain.
It is not clear how much. You might enjoy these games if you are a fan. Here is a list of brain training resources you might like to look at.
However, if you spend too much time looking at your smartphone or computer screen, it is likely that your time could be better spent walking, learning a new hobby, or visiting with friends. These activities can have long-term, significant effects on your brain’s health and vitality.