It’s all well and good to exercise our bodies in order to make sure that our muscles are toned, and our health remains as well as possible. However, too many people neglect to commit time to exercising one of the most important parts of our bodies, and that’s the brain. Giving yourself a Brain Workout is not just beneficial, but also vital in terms of staying mentally active. Keeping your brain sharp helps every area of your life and as with every other muscle in your body, the old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ is as true for what’s inside your skull as it is for the rest of you.
But what are the most efficient and fun ways to keep our brains fit and healthy?
Read a book!
It doesn’t matter what you read as long as you do it and give yourself a brain workout. Whether it’s the daily newspaper, a classic novel or the latest issue of Spider-Man, reading is beneficial for all ages, whether it’s a child developing their vocabulary or an adult keeping aware of the world around them. The more challenging the reading material, the more of a workout you’re giving your gray cells. If you want to not only keep your brain active but actually want to improve it, then finding reading materials that educate are a great way of keeping your brain lean and vital.
Learn a musical instrument
This is a long-term mental learning experience, and it is all the more useful because of it. Not only does learning a musical instrument promote entirely new ways of thinking and learning, but it has also been proven to reduce stress. There are so many ways to learn these days as well, from local teachers to online videos and community classes. Depending on your level of skill, there is an almost impossible number of instruments to choose from, although it might be best to start easy than go straight to the more difficult ones.
If you’re not exactly a culinary wizard and your limited in the kitchen to toast, boiling eggs and a glass of water, a cooking class offers a great way to exercise your brain and learn a life-improving skill. Learning to cook is especially good for brain training, due to the fact that food affects so many of our senses. From touch to taste to smell, all of which use different parts of the brain, you’ll be getting an excellent mental workout whilst learning a useful (and impressive) culinary talent that can be used in other areas of your life.
The growing trend of Escape Rooms is proof that puzzle solving doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Whilst being useful and fun for a variety of reasons, all kinds of Escape Games are good for your mental improvement, whether it’s an Escape Room with puzzles for you and your friends to solve, or a simple board game such as Clue, where it’s every man for himself and you really have to think to come out on top.
Learn a new language
We’ve all wanted to impress someone with a little bit of well-timed Spanish or romance someone with a touch of French, and the good news is that learning a new language is the perfect way to give your brain a workout. Due to the fact that you are listening, memorizing and then vocalizing, your brain is accomplishing a number of different tasks and that stimulation can bring a number of positives to your life. Learning a new language has been linked to a number of studies that suggest a reduced risk of mental decline, so becoming more linguistically aware might have long terms benefits beyond simple mental alertness.
You might think that hours spent playing the latest video game is time wasted. You might even think that video games are bad for your mental health. However, as with most things, moderation is key, and video games have many proven benefits. They are good for problem-solving, hand to eye coordination and memory, all of which are skills that need to be practiced and exercised as much as any other skill. Video games can do these and much more, and the number of options available to play is almost countless. Available in every style, for as few or as many players as you wish, it’s almost unimaginable that you would be unable to find a style of game that you enjoy playing while managing to keep your brain fit and healthy.
This one might not be for everyone, but getting out and seeing old friends or meeting new ones is a great way to keep your brain sharp. Discussions about popular culture, politics, and religion (not arguments!) can help keep the mind alert and fresh and is also proven to promote positivity and possibly reduce the chances of dementia. The fact that you can socialize in ways that you prefer is a positive element as well, so if you’re not really comfortable at parties or social gatherings, there is always Skype for the Internet lovers or activities such as joining a social club or volunteering for a local charity.
By experiencing new things, especially ones that involve different sense and a variety of activities, we encourage our brains to make more connections. This stimulation is a positive step towards maintaining a healthy mind and can reduce cognitive decline. By learning and keeping the mind as active as the body, you might just be surprised at what you’re capable of. From learning a new language to strumming the guitar at a neighbor’s party, developing new skills will complement your life in ways that go far beyond simple brain exercise. Don’t let your brain atrophy through lack of use. It’s a part of the body that needs as much care and attention as the muscles, heart and lungs, and by neglecting it we run the risk of stale thinking at the least, and cognitive decline at the worst.