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Effective Brain Exercises: Ways to strengthen your mind

Dr. Rashmi ByakodiJan 17, 2024

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.




What Are Brain Exercises?

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. 

Benefits of Brain Games for Aging Adults

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.

1. Practice meditation

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.

2. Use your non-dominant hand

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!

3. Try out different board games

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.

4. Card games are fun

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.

5. Enhance your vocabulary

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.

6. Learn new skills

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.

7. Socialise

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.

8. Read books

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

  • Lessen stress

  • 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.

9. Play an instrument or listen to music

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.

10. Exercise regularly

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.

11. Practise tai chi

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. 

  • Ease stress

  • Improve mood

  • 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.

12. Pick up a new language

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

  • Improved memory

  • 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

The bottom line

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common questions and answers related to Brain Exercises


How can one improve mental health?

One can improve mental health by practising the following. 

  • Regular exercise

  • Stay socially active

  • Play some soulful music

  • Try to speak a new language

  • Play some board games

  • Read books of different genres

  • Meditate

Which Brain Exercises make the brain stronger?

The top Brain Exercises to strengthen the brain include the following.

  • Meditation

  • 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

Which foods fortify the brain?

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

  • Blueberries

  • Fatty fish

  • Dark chocolates

  • Eggs

  • Avocados

  • 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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