Engage Your Brain to Promote Healthy Aging
As we age, our brains naturally lose some cognitive function, especially in areas like memory and focus. The more activities you engage in to increase brain health, the more you can slow the aging process. After all, our brains are involved in everything we do, and like other parts of our bodies, they need exercise too.
Brain-boosting activities not only improve your memory, attention, and problem-solving ability but also elevate your mood. All of us can benefit from taking a few small actions each day to help stimulate our minds to better our daily lives.
Eight Brain Exercises You Can Do Every Day
Here are a few suggested activities to help keep your brain sharp and healthy:
- Listen to Music
One of the easiest things you can do to boost your brain performance is to listen to music. People who listen to music have been shown to be more emotionally intelligent. Plus, if you listen to uplifting songs, it’s been proven that you’re able to generate more creative and innovative ideas than if you were to remain in silence.
We may not immediately think “brain booster” when we think about cooking, but in reality, cooking or baking is an excellent activity for your brain. Any activity that involves using all or most of your senses causes stimulations to different parts of your mind, and cooking often requires all of your senses.
- Learn a New Skill
Learning something new and complex has a positive effect on your brain: it slows brain aging by improving connections and memory. Overall, it improves cognitive function. Try playing a musical instrument, learning a new language, or adopting a new hobby. Any skill that requires using several senses at once is incredibly stimulating to your brain, as is a skill that requires the coordination of your mind and body, like running.
- Solve a Puzzle
When you read the word puzzle, you might immediately imagine a classic jigsaw puzzle or a crossword puzzle. These are great for your brain, but nowadays, puzzles come in more varieties. Many are fine-tuned for adults and are highly interactive, fun, and mentally stimulating.
Escape room games, for example, can be done in person or ordered online for home play and help you practice strategic decision-making in an engaging environment (plus fun to do with friends!). There are also deduction games, such as murder mystery boxes and board games that you can order straight to your door. Card games have also had an upgrade, so there truly is something out there for everyone. If you have a game store near you, check out the selection for adults, or you can explore online options.
There’s a reason meditation has been around for thousands of years: it’s effective and extremely healthy for your mind and body. Studies show that meditation increases mental flexibility by creating new pathways in your brain. It also improves attention, memory, and even empathy. Plus, it’s a great way to relieve stress.
If you’re new to meditation, start with just five minutes of deep breathing per day. Consider also using a meditation app to provide you with a beginner, guided meditation practice.
Reading both activates your imagination and bolsters your vocabulary. Studies show that individuals who read regularly are more equipped to engage in complex social relationships, as reading gives them the thought processes required to understand other peoples’ mental states.
The next time you read, practice your vocabulary at the same time. Write down any words you don’t know, look up their definitions, and try using them at least five times the next day. Areas of the brain that are critical to auditory and visual processing light up when individuals engage in vocabulary-boosting activities.
- Be Creative
Doing something creative has been linked to higher dopamine levels. Experiment with painting, drawing, model-building, writing, or other creative arts to stimulate your brain. Many of these activities can also activate your imagination.
Writing is a great brain-boosting activity, as it improves memory and thought expression. Even if you don’t consider yourself a great writer, remember that it takes practice: try journaling in your free time or writing short stories.
- Use a Brain Training App
Brain training may not be the most powerful method of stimulating your brain, but it is linked to improvements in cognition, memory, learning, and attention. Primarily, it involves completing tasks and games that promote mental agility and ultimately help you do daily tasks faster and more effectively.
Luckily, there’s an entire category of apps that specialize in brain training. We recommend trying one of the following, which consistently rank highly in the brain training app category:
- Lumosity – Complete games from three categories of memory, attention, and problem-solving.
- Elevate – Tracks your performance across five different areas of development.
- Peak – Complete short, intense brain workouts to challenge your cognitive abilities.
All three are free to download on Google Play and Apple Store.