We all know brain health is important, but as we get older and get set into a routine, we run out of opportunities to strengthen our brains. Through the years, your brain’s cognitive reserve—its ability to withstand neurological damage—diminishes. Like any other muscle, a brain needs to be exercised, stretched and challenged to stay strong and avoid atrophy.
So how can you live a brain-healthy lifestyle? By taking steps to work out your noggin! Check out these cool tricks you can practice to exercise your brain and build mental muscle.
- Play games. Playing daily games like sudoku, crossword puzzles or chess are a simple way to give your brain some exercise. You can play these in a daily newspaper, on a mobile device or even compete with other users online.
- Do mental math. Nowadays, everyone uses calculators on their mobile devices whenever math is necessary, but you can develop your brain by avoiding this temptation. Mental math is an easy way to give gray matter a workout. If you worry about making a mistake, you can even check the answer after computing in your head.
- Turn off the GPS. It’s easy to rely on technology and navigate using a GPS or Maps on a mobile device. You can build up your brain, though, by navigating through your memory. Try to recall street names, directions and landmarks all through memory. Your brain gets a workout and you can always go back to the GPS if need be.
- Switch your dominant hand. If you’re right-handed, try doing simple tasks with your left hand for a while, and vice versa. This stimulates parts of the brain that control muscle memory, giving you an all new challenge. Maybe hold off for a bit on cutting the chicken for dinner, though.
- Change up your routine. After a time, your noggin gets used to the daily routine established, but switching it up can jog your brain enough to get it pumping and working more than it normally would. Do you shower before brushing your teeth? Try the other way around. Take a different way home from work, shift seats at the dinner table or try taking the dog for an unfamiliar walk around the park.
- Learn a foreign language. Aprende un lenguaje extranjero. It’s never too late to try something new, and though it may be years since your last Spanish class in high school, learning a foreign language can be a fun way to keep the brain sharp. See if any classes are available at a local community center, a tutor or through an online program.
- Try a new hobby. Hobbies are excellent mental exercises, and learning something new is a fun way to explore while strengthening your brain. Creative skills such as playing music, dancing and visual art all exercise various parts of the brain and have useful benefits. So go ahead, pick up that guitar and get playing.
When it comes to muscle strengthening, your mental matter is important. Keep your brain sharp and focused by practicing some of these exercises every day. Develop your brain and you’ll be able to continue living a positive, healthy lifestyle.