In our daily routines, we often find ourselves focused on when we can fit in a workout. We strive to work our arms, legs, abs, and every other part of our bodies. That way, they grow strong and fit and stay healthy, right? But, what about a mental workout?
With all of that focus on our physical bodies, we tend to forget the most important muscle of them all: our brains! Yes, you can give your brain a workout, and it has several benefits, including improved memory and cognitive functions.
Mental fitness is just as critical as physical exercise. See these ten brain exercises to give the mind a workout and improve your mental fitness.
1. Play Games for Brain Exercises
If you want to know how to exercise your brain, puzzles and games are a few of the best methods out there. Jigsaw puzzles allow us to sit at a table, relax, and focus our minds on nothing but finding the right pieces.
During this time, your brain works overtime to connect the dots and fill in the picture before you. For some people, puzzles can add more frustration to their day than relaxation.
That’s okay because you don’t have to start with a 2,000 piece Van Gogh. It’s not so much the complexity of the puzzle as it is the action of putting it together. That means you could start with a 24-piece kitten puzzle and still improve brain fitness.
Now, if puzzles aren’t your thing, there are a slew of other brain games you can play. These fun and clever teasers come in many shapes and forms like:
- Crossword puzzles
- Word searches
You can also take it to your phone and discover the vast amount of mental exercise apps on the market. These come in handy because they are always a click away. So if you find yourself with some extra time on a lunch break, you can whip out your phone and set your mind to work.
2. Learn a New Language
Studies show that learning a new language enforces a stronger memory. It all has to do with the memorization and recall techniques that bilingualism implements.
Many language programs and classes teach you a set amount of vocabulary, phrases, or letters of the alphabet. From there, they continually ask questions about each section so that you ingrain it into your memory.
Your brain is working its hardest when you dedicate yourself to learning the structure of a new language. On top of battling many forms of mental decline, you may also improve your multi-tasking skills.
3. Try Dance
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), dancing can help with Alzheimer’s disease. Along with that, it improves blood circulation through your body, which means your memory works at a higher capacity.
If you want to try your hand at it, you can:
- Take a dance class (Salsa, Ballroom, etc.)
- Take a Zumba class
- Join the YMCA
- Go square dancing
If doing those things in public horrifies you, don’t be afraid to stay home and let loose. Crank up the jams and dance any way you want.
You can also look up Youtube videos that teach beginner’s moves. That will help build your confidence to grab a partner and go out and shake it up.
Dancing may be a great way to get the blood flowing, but so are other forms of exercise. That doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or lift heavy, though.
A simple walk around the block is enough to stimulate the mind and body. According to a New Mexico Highlands University, the pressure that walking has on the foot increases enough blood flow.
It increases it so much that you can get your physical and mental workouts in at the same time. For a healthy routine, try to be active at least 2-3 times a week.
5. Read a Book
Did you know that regular reading minimizes your probability of mental decline by about 32%? Although, making reading a common occurrence in your busy life is a trying task. To try and remain an active reader, consider these things:
- Designate a reading time every day
- Join a book club
- Read with family
- Reading within your favorite genre (fantasy, sci-fi, slice-of-life, etc.)
Not only are you entertaining yourself, but your brain is thanking you for reading something intellectual and engaging.
6. Eat Brain Foods
You know the phrase, “you are what you eat”? Well, it is true when it comes to your brainpower. If you only eat foods that are high in saturated fats or processed sugars, your mind will act and react slower.
That doesn’t mean your healthy diet doesn’t have to consist of bland foods. Researchers suggest some of the best brain foods are salmon, blueberries, and red wine.
Meditating daily can improve your mental fitness as well as your mental health. It’s known to calm your body, slow your breathing, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Not only has it shown to reduce these things, it also has shown to improve memory function and your brain’s ability to process information. Get comfortable, focus on your breath, relax your mind and take a few minutes out of each day to meditate.
8. Learn a New Skill
Just like learning a new language, a skill focuses on memory and hand-eye coordination. That is a more fun way to improve brain health because you choose a new hobby.
Here are some examples to get you started:
- Play an instrument
- Knitting or crochet
- DIY crafts and projects
Whatever you choose, you don’t have to worry that the skill won’t help your brain function. Just by attempting to learn, you are working that muscle.
Writing our thoughts into a notebook is a tool used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive fitness isn’t just about memory. It also means that you create a clear, healthy mind.
You can write bluntly or put your words in a more creative way like fiction or poetry. If something is stressing you out or angering you, write it down.
No one has to see it, either. The mere act of putting your emotions into words is often enough.
10. Get Some Rest
Think of sleeping like recharging your mental battery. If you have trouble sleeping, then your brain is working at 100% capacity.
Not only this, but it can lead to a decline in your ability to think, memorize, and remember things. During rest, all of those memorization skills and newfound hobbies you want to learn store themselves in a part of the brain that is more permanent. So, be sure to get your eight hours in every night.
More on How to Exercise Your Brain
As you can tell, several brain exercises help you focus and improve your mental state. You can start small with brain games or go big and learn a new language.
The most important thing is that you choose a method that speaks to you. At Southern California Sunrise, we know that your mental health comes first before anything else.If you are battling with a mental health disorder, do not hesitate to contact us right away. We are here to lend a hand and start you on a healthier path.