Exercises to Help Keep Your Mind Sharp

Exercises to keep your mind sharp

Taking care of our mental well-being is crucial, and incorporating brain exercises into our daily routines can significantly contribute to maintaining cognitive vitality. It’s June, which means it’s Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time to shed light on the importance of brain health and raise awareness about conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a variety of mental and physical exercises that can help stimulate the mind and promote brain health (whether you’re a senior or not).

  • Test your recall:

Write something down (a grocery list, a short poem, a favorite book quote, a recommended movie list from a friend) and then reread it throughout the day. Try memorizing it. After about an hour, how many items can you recall? Organizing and writing out the lists help with recall.

  • Math but in your head:

We all know we can Google the answer to anything, but instead try calculating the tip in your head. Or do simple math in your head, write it out if you need to, but resist using the calculator or the computer. There are studies that suggest solving math problems have a positive effect on brain health.

  • Have fun with a jigsaw puzzle:

Engaging in jigsaw puzzles challenges your brain and promotes cognitive abilities. Research has shown that working on puzzles recruits multiple cognitive functions, benefiting visuospatial cognitive aging.

  • Try your hand at cards:

Playing card games offers a fun way to improve memory and thinking skills. A study on mentally stimulating activities found that engaging in a quick card game can lead to increased brain volume in several regions. Consider learning solitaire, bridge, gin rummy, poker, hearts, or crazy eights to boost cognitive function while enjoying some friendly competition.

  • Build your vocabulary:

Look up the word of the day! Or read a book to find a new work. Expanding your vocabulary not only enriches your communication but also stimulates your brain. Research shows that vocabulary tasks engage various brain regions, particularly those involved in visual and auditory processing. Keep a notebook handy when reading, jot down unfamiliar words, look up their definitions, and challenge yourself to use them in sentences throughout the day. You can turn it into a fun game with loved ones.

  • Dance your heart out:

Physical exercise, particularly dancing, offers benefits for brain health. Learning new dance moves can improve your brain’s processing speed and memory. Whether it’s salsa, hip-hop, Zumba, or ballroom dancing, incorporating dance into your routine can enhance cognitive abilities while enjoying the rhythm and movement.

  • Learn a new skill:

Learning something new is not only enjoyable but also beneficial for your brain. Research suggests that acquiring new skills can improve memory function, regardless of age. This could be a new language, a software program, car repair, knitting, drawing, painting. If this skill somehow involves the body it is even more helpful, like golf, pickle ball, etc. New skills challenge the brain and foster neural connections.

  • Teach a new skill to someone else:

Teaching a skill to others is an excellent way to expand your own learning. Explaining concepts and correcting mistakes require mental effort and reinforce your understanding of the subject. Learn a skill and share it with a friend, allowing both of you to benefit from the cognitive stimulation and social interaction.

  • Listen to or play music:

Listening to music, especially upbeat tunes, can boost your creative thinking and brain power. It generates innovative solutions and stimulates your brain’s creative processes. Additionally, learning to play a musical instrument at any age can enhance cognitive function and provide a rewarding and enriching experience.

  • Take a new route:

Breaking out of routine and exploring new paths can invigorate your brain. Trying different routes to work or using alternative modes of transportation challenges your thinking and promotes mental flexibility. Maybe next time you’re out on a walk take a different turn. Embrace change and embrace the opportunity to engage your brain in new and unexpected ways.

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month serves as a reminder to prioritize brain health and engage in activities that stimulate the mind!