5 Mental Exercises to Keep Your Brain Strong
Posted: Jan 19, 2017
Just like the rest of our muscles, our brains can atrophy over time, too. Its cognitive reserve—which refers to its ability to endure neurological damage brought by aging without showing signs of memory loss
- weakens through the years. This makes it a lot more difficult to do mental tasks we used to take for granted. But don’t worry—just as cardio workouts and weight training adds lean muscles to your body, performing targeted brain exercises regularly can also improve your brain's cognitive reserve. Researches indicate that they can help stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
And no—you don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive brain training software or board games. Experts recommend ‘real-world’ brain training activities that offer challenge and novelty—such as driving using a different route or even simply brushing your teeth with the hand you normally don’t use. The key is to involve as many of your senses as possible so that the brain exercise its ability to make associations. Here are some mental exercises that can help you do this:
1.Calculate math problems—in your head. Don’t use the aid of a calculator or a pencil and paper. Visualize the numbers and solve the problem using only your brain. You can also make this a little more difficult by walking while you solve the equation. 2.Test your recall abilities. Make a useful list of things to do or grocery items to buy. After one or two hours, try to recall as many of those items as possible.
3.Learn something new—like a musical instrument or a new language. Studies show that learning a new and complex skill over a relatively longer period of time is essential for the aging mind. Learning a foreign language is also a great idea as listening and hearing involved in the task stimulates many parts of the brain. What’s more, you gain a richer vocabulary, which is linked to reduce risks of cognitive decline.
4.Take cooking classes. Learning to cook a new cuisine forces you to use your sense of smell, taste, touch, and sight, which light up different parts of your brain. And when you dine out or taste someone else’s cooking, challenge your taste buds by trying to identify the ingredients in the meal, including subtle spices.
5.Draw a map purely from memory. When you return home from visiting a place you have never been to before, draw a map of that area. Do this exercise each time you have a chance to visit a new location.
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