Everyone knows the importance of eating healthy and getting some sort of exercise on a regular basis, but many people forget the importance of also exercising their brain. Studies have shown that doing regular “brain exercises,” along with regular exercise and eating plenty of antioxidants, can increase your brain’s cognitive reserve. There are several types of software that can be purchased to put your brain to work, but experts recommend practicing more real-world activities for more effective brain training. Here are 10 effective and less expensive ways to give your mind a workout.
1. Test your recall: Do something as simple as making a grocery list and try to memorize everything on it. Put it away for an hour or so and then see how many items you can recall.
2. Music: Studies have shown that learning to play a musical instrument over time or singing in a choir can do wonders for an aging mind.
3. Mental Math: With all the technology available today, math is made simple, but figuring out problems the old-fashioned way can be a great mental stimulation. To really test your cognitive abilities, try walking at the same time!
4. Cooking Class: Whether you’re a natural in the kitchen or are more of a microwave chef, try cooking something new. Because cooking involves so many senses (smell, touch, sight and taste) it is ideal for working several different parts of the brain.
5. Learn a new language: Not only does the listening stimulate the brain, but having a rich vocabulary has been linked to reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
6. Visualizing Words: Think about a word and the way it is spelled in your mind and then use either the first two or last two letters to form another word. This activity helps to refresh your brain on the things you already know.
7. Maps: After traveling to a new place, sit down and try to visualize a map that you used and draw it from memory.
8. How good are your tastebuds: When eating a meal, try and identify the different ingredients that you are tasting, like the different spices or other tastes that may be harder to place.
9. Hand-eye coordination: Instead of watching television or using various forms of technology, try a hobby that requires the use of your fine-motor skills like knitting, drawing/coloring or doing a puzzle.
10. Learn a sport: Try a new sport that not only uses the body, but also the mind, for instance yoga, golf or tennis.