As we age, we don’t just lose the elasticity in our muscles, but also the cognitive function of our mind. The neurological damage that occurs in the brain on a regular basis starts to show, and you begin to experience diminished memory. Though it is impossible to stop the aging process, there are a few mental exercises you can engage in to enhance and boost your brain’s ability to remember past things and even learn new skills.
If you think you’re at risk of dementia or want to be sure that you don’t run into trouble a few years down the road, be sure to do the following seven brain exercises.
- Recall things you’ve done
One of the most efficient techniques to test your current memory and boost it is to recall or memorize the activities you’ve just done, watched or listened to. There are several ways you can remember things like playing a memory game where you see some images and then identify them once they’re hidden or replaying it before you sleep. If you’d like to do something a little more basic, you can make a list of grocery items, or anything else that you’d want to do and try to recall it after an hour or so. Another great way to accomplish recalling things as a brain exercise is to remember random names
- Engage in storytelling
Storytelling has been linked to improvement of patients with Alzheimer’s. This mental exercise is a great way to improve memory because it helps you in focusing on the crucial details, recall moments of your life and associate emotions with the events as well. You will be accessing different parts of your brain, so it is recommended that you engage in this mental activity several times during the week to benefit from it. Remember, storytelling doesn’t necessarily have to be about recalling past events, but you can also share your insight about a recent book you read or a movie you watched. The purpose here is to remember the information you learned or the experience you had so be sure to switch the tactics, so you don’t get bored.
- Work on jigsaw puzzles
If you’ve ever completed a jigsaw puzzle successfully, you know that it takes a lot of focus and hand-eye coordination to complete. Not only do you need to match the pieces, but also make sure that the colors match, so the picture is finished with perfection. These puzzles can keep you entertained for hours and will work on improving your memory while you have fun. Bear in mind that it’s ok if you don’t have time to solve boxes of actual puzzles because you can do it online too and reap the same benefits.
- Learn a new language
Going on a trip soon and want to learn a new language so you can communicate more effectively? Having a rich vocabulary has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline, and this is why it is recommended that you learn a foreign language. You don’t necessarily need to make sure that you learn every single word but just being able to have the correct basics will do the trick. Download an app such as Duolingo on your Android or iOS device and start reading, writing and listening in the language you’ve always wanted to master.
- Play a variety of games
Games like chess, crosswords, and even video games make you access different parts of your brain. Research shows that players who take up a crossword challenge more often than not also have a reduced chance of dementia onset. So, if you’re thinking of taking a Sage test because you think you’re at risk for the disease, make sure you start playing several of these mind enlightening games right away. You can also download other mind training apps which don’t just help you in memorization but are also an excellent way to strengthen your brain’s core. One study, where 42 adults with mild MI participated found that challenging the mind with a brain-training app for eight hours over four-weeks improved performance on memory tests.
- Practice a little mathematics
For this particular brain exercise, you don’t have to solve long equations and sums for it to be beneficial for you. Depending on what you’re comfortable with, you can choose a 3 to 4-digit number, add a few numerics to it and then subtract them as well. The point here is not to win and go with the highest amount but to challenge the limits of your brain. If you feel like you’ve picked out a higher digit and are facing difficulty with it, switch it with another, smaller number.
- Memorize a map
Finally, did you know that memorizing and drawing a map with the help of recall can help you keep dementia at bay? When you’ve returned home from a day-long trip, try to sketch an outline of the place where you came from and all the streets. Research directed at the University of London showed that taxi drivers have a significantly larger hippocampus and are better at storing and memorizing geographical details. If you think you’ve already learned the way, try and take a different route to where ever you’re going to challenge the brain even more.
Though brain exercises can help you improve and enhance your memory, you have to remember that its not the only thing that counts. In fact, having a healthy lifestyle, eating the right foods, exercising enough, having a sleep schedule, and staying away from bad habits such as smoking has all been linked to a healthy brain. So, if you’d like to make sure that your intellect continues to work in its optimal condition even after you’ve aged, make sure to engage in these brain exercises and challenge your mind daily. Remember, you must either use it or lose it. However, if you think you’re experiencing cognitive decline, make sure you go to a doctor for proper diagnosis.