Dr. Rashmi ByakodiNov 3, 2023
As you physically exercise to maintain a healthy physique, you should also perform mental workouts to keep your brain active by engaging in activities that stimulate it. Research shows that Brain Exercising can improve mental alertness and help your brain remain healthy irrespective of your age. Certain Brain Exercises can help improve intelligence, cognitive function, memory, focus, concentration, and creativity. It can help you perform daily chores more quickly and effectively. This article highlights 12 important Brain Exercises for mental fitness.
Any activity that engages your cognitive skills can be called a brain exercise. These activities stimulate the brain and help develop memory skills. The trick is that these exercises must be hard but not too hard to solve.
Brain exercises can help older adults have a more positive outlook. It can keep those who are retired, handicapped or ill occupied. Since some games/exercises require more than two people, it creates a sense of comradery and prevents self-isolation amongst older adults.
Brain games stimulate cognitive functions like executive function and processing speed helping them be a little more mindful and aware of their surroundings and people. Here are some examples of brain activities.
When your body is relaxed and you feel energised, it's easier to slow down and notice details. Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, as well as depression. It helps stimulate the neural paths in your brain and thereby improves your observational skills, mental flexibility, focus, and concentration.
Your non-dominant hand is the hand you don't use much. Research shows that using your non-dominant hand is one of the best ways to exercise your brain. For example, if you're right-handed, then try doing all your daily chores with your left hand: brushing your teeth, gardening, eating, or writing on a piece of paper. Since your brain is used to thinking with your right hand, using your left hand will make it work harder!
Playing board games is a fun way to get your brain working. According to studies, playing different board games may help with your cognition as mentioned below.
Activate cognitive functions
Enhance your reasoning ability
Improve working memory, focus, and perception
Also, solving jigsaw puzzles helps maintain your ability to recognise visual and spatial connections among objects (visuospatial cognition). Different board games like jigsaw puzzles, chess, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and checkers can be great ways to exercise and challenge your brain.
Card games evaluate short-term memory and the capability to remember patterns. Studies say that card games can stimulate various sections of the brain. Additionally, playing card games can improve cognitive skills and brain health in a fun-filled way.
Another great technique of doing Brain Exercises as well as widening knowledge is to enhance vocabulary. Some of the simple ways to improve vocabulary is to read a book or note down some new words daily. Research says that several regions of the brain are involved in a vocabulary task, especially areas essential for visual and auditory processing.
Learning new knacks help the brain engage in different ways and enhance memory functions, especially in older adults. Research shows that people who get themselves engaged in social and intellectual activities in their middle or late adulthood have better cognitive functions than their lethargic peers. Moreover, they have a lesser risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Socialising has always been a mind-engaging leisure activity. People who are socially active have better cognitive functions and are at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some social activities such as playing games, social sports, and interacting with people help stimulate the brain. Some ideas for adults to stay socially active may include joining a fellow group for walking in a nearby park, joining a book club, etc.
Reading is a great exercise for the brain. When you read a sentence, your brain tries to process each word by recalling the meaning instantly. Beyond that, reading helps your brain imagine the subject matter, characters of the subject, and how the dialogues written in the book sound in voices.
Regular reading of books can benefit in the following ways.
Can fortify your brain
Increases your ability to understand feelings
Helps in building your vocabulary
Helps prevent mental decline due to age
Can alleviate anxiety and depression
Aids good sleep
If you are someone who likes reading books, then try out different genres other than your usual read. This deviation from the usual reading challenges your brain to connect with the plot, era, people, and other interesting facts. On the contrary, if you do not like reading books, then try to start with a book with less than 100 pages and a genre of your interest.
As the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has pointed out, playing a musical instrument may help to protect against mental impairment in older adults. It may also help to protect from cognitive impairment in older adults. Playing a musical instrument can help with the following.
Enhance your memory and cognitive performance
Process and retain information
Take appropriate decisions
Improve problem-solving skills
Develop focus and concentration
Protect against neurodegenerative diseases
Other than playing an instrument, listening to music has also a tremendous impact on brain functions. According to the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI), listening to music connects different parts of the brain along with improved cognitive skills and overall happiness.
Studies say that listening to joyful music can help your brain become more creative, bring out innovative ideas and increase your memory power. The researchers also found that it can help lower anxiety and depression.
It is evident that regular exercise has numerous physical health benefits. But one significant benefit that is often overlooked is the effect of physical exercise on mental health. Exercise is a non-medicinal way to improve brain function.
Exercise improves mental health in the following ways.
Reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and negativity
Improving self-confidence, motor coordination, and rational thinking skill
Alleviates low self-esteem and social withdrawal
Redressing distractions and enhancing social interaction
Exercising such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, and gardening have been found beneficial for generating new brain cells and increasing blood circulation to the brain, thus improving the sharpness of your brain.
Additionally, physical exercise has numerous positive impacts on your brain that may include increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain and releasing neurotransmitter chemicals like endorphins and dopamine.
Tai chi is a form of martial arts that requires gentle and slow body movements, deep breaths, and meditation. Practising regular tai chi can contribute to brain health in the following ways.
Enhance sleep quality
Promote cognition in aged people
Improve balance, strength, and motor skills in older adults, especially people with Parkinson’s
As per National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), people who practise long-term tai chi have structural changes in their brains, such as increased brain mass.
As per PubMed Central, speaking more than one language (bilingualism) has many cognitive benefits. It strengthens the connectivity among different parts of the brain. The mental and neurological benefits of bilingualism range from early childhood to late adulthood since the brain processes information more efficiently. Bilingualism may contribute to the following.
Better visual-spatial functions
Advanced level of creativity.
Switch between different chores more swiftly
Delay the onset of cognitive decline due to old age
Delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
While physical exercise is great for your body, mental exercises boost your mental health. Brain exercises provide the right stimulation to keep you sharp and alert. Brain exercises aren’t limited to a particular age group, anyone can try these exercises. Spend a few minutes to try these activities and notice the difference yourself.
One can improve mental health by practising the following.
Stay socially active
Play some soulful music
Try to speak a new language
Play some board games
Read books of different genres
The top Brain Exercises to strengthen the brain include the following.
Working with the non-dominant hand
Listening to music
Learning a new instrument
Playing board games like chess, Sudoku, checkers, and jigsaw puzzle
Reading a book
Practising tai chi
Some superfoods that help fortify the brain may include the following.
Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage
Vitamin C-rich fruits, including oranges, kiwi, guava, strawberries, and tomatoes
Walnuts and almonds
Some seeds, including flax, chia, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Wholegrains like barley, bulgur wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice
Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.
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