Healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly help to keep the body in great shape. However, mental exercises are more proficient at training your brain and keeping your mind and memory sharp, especially as you grow older. Thankfully, these cognitive exercises are simple and don’t really involve overspending.
Here’s a list of five mental exercises you can perform regularly to enhance your brain’s cognitive reserve and help you live a brain-healthy lifestyle.
1. Play word games and puzzles
One of the easiest and most fun ways to keep your mind active and enjoy it is by playing simple word games such as scrabble, number games like sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, and completing daily crossword puzzles. These games require reasoning and logic, close attention to details, and help to stimulate the brain’s learning center.
2. Memorize and recall
It’s an established principle in biology that organs and muscles not used may atrophy and lose efficiency over time. This is why you need to play memory games and focus on activities that help to stimulate your recall power. For instance, make a list of anything you can think of — tasks to do, items to buy, recipe ingredients, phone numbers of friends, or any other thing — and memorize. Wait for some time — may be an hour or more — and see how many of those memorized items you can recall.
3. Learn a new skill
Picking up a new mental skill such as learning a foreign language, a new dish or musical instrument, or training for a new sport, game, or hobby and such can also help stimulate the memory. Some of these skills employ different senses, several parts of the brain, and parts of the body. By extension, they increase your cognitive capacity and keep you mentally alert.
4. Improve your vocabulary
Reading and learning new words are also useful mental exercises that help you stay smart, sharp, and mentally fit. Pick up novels, magazines, and daily newspapers, and jot down new words, names of notable personalities, and places in a special notebook. Find out what those words mean, and their correct usage, and try to memorize them.
5. Draw a map from the memory
Another great mental exercise to keep you sharp is drawing maps offhand. You may start by drawing maps of your usual routes, and extend to new places you visit. When you return home from visiting a new place, try to draw a map of where you went and recall as many items and landmarks as you can remember. Repeat this exercise each time you go somewhere new.
Other useful cognitive exercises worth attempting include meditation, dancing, teaching, playing card games, and listening to music. These mental exercises enhance concentration, improve focus and memory, and boost mental agility.