How often have you challenged your brain since you were in a classroom?
Science and health experts say that you should exercise your brain on a daily basis; very similar to the advice for keeping up your physical fitness.
For those who are concerned with the changes in mental dexterity that come with age, engaging in daily mental fitness exercises is a great way to keep your brain healthy.
Here are the top six that we recommend (and that are easy to accomplish):
Luckily, in today’s world, there is no shortage of brain games built to strengthen and work your brain.
A review that analyzed 151 computerized training studies found that digital games had a significant positive effect on working memory, information processing speed, and brain function. While science backs up the benefits of playing digital brain games, it’s important to be mindful of your screen time and play digital games in moderation.
Looking for brain games that aren’t connected to a screen? Here are a few that generate the same positive effects on your brain:
There are also great books designed to train your brain and include challenging puzzles. Here are a few that we recommend:
While opening a new book can be intimidating due to the time commitment, reading for at least thirty minutes every day is a great brain booster.
Research shows that reading helps increase your fluid intelligence and concentration. Scientists recommend getting in your reading session right before work to increase your focus while on the job.
Research supporting the positive effects of meditation on the brain is endless. Overall, meditation can significantly reduce stress, memory loss, anxiety, and sleeping problems. As well, it can improve focus, retention, stamina, and mood.
In fact, a statistical review of 300 meditation practitioners showed medium to significant size differences in eight separate parts of the brains; including areas associated with memory consolidation and emotion regulation.
To help you engage in this mental fitness exercise, here’s a quick guide to three easy types of meditation.
Not only is learning a new skill fun, it can strengthen the connections in your brain. Research shows that learning a new skill can specifically help improve memory function in older adults.
As for what skills to learn, while that is completely up to your preferences, one study found that the individuals who experienced the greatest improvement in memory were the ones who learned a more challenging new skill — such as crocheting and Adobe Photoshop.
If you have kids, this will be an easy mental fitness exercise to engage in. Set a goal to teach your kids one new thing each day. Depending on their age, you can increase the difficulty of the skill you are teaching; for both your benefit and theirs! In fact, 92% of survey participants agreed that teaching information to someone else increased their own communication skills and confidence.
Additionally, teaching others a skill you are trying to learn significantly increases your own learning and memory of the skill.
However, did you know that a daily 40-minute nap can also boost your learning capability, alertness, perception, memory, and information retention throughout the day? This is because napping pushes memories from the hippocampus to the cortex, which allows for permanent storage and integration with other information. A recent study found that memory especially was improved with napping.
Daytime napping isn’t just for kids, it’s beneficial for you too. Many studies have shown that napping as a regular part of an adult’s routine not only improves short-term memory but long-term too. As well, one study with 23,300 participants found that those who regularly napped three times a week over a period of six years had a 37% lower risk of heart disease.
We especially recommend participating in this mental “exercise” if you, like many others, now find yourself working from home. It has even been proven that a nap is more beneficial to your workday than a standard break.
While this could easily be one of your tasks for number four in this list, the brain benefits of learning a new language are too prominent not to mention.
An amazing fact is that it is never too late to reap the benefits of learning a new language. No matter your age, you can help improve your memory, visual-spatial skills, creativity, and the ability to switch between tasks. Learning a new language is specifically known for delaying the onset of age-related mental decline.
Participating in daily brain activities might feel like just another thing to add to your already loaded plate, but the benefits to your memory, stamina, and overall strength of mind are undeniable.
We make time for the things that are important to us. Once you set your own mental fitness as a priority, fitting these brain activities into your daily routine will be a breeze.
For a print-out of nine easy mental fitness exercises you can do every day, download our checklist here.