by Perley-Ann Friedman
Did you exercise your brain today? Most of us don’t even know what that means. We seem to overlook the importance of the brain and solely focus on the body when we think about being healthy.
Our efforts are on diet, sleep, and exercise. Perhaps some people also consider emotional balance as a way to mitigate stress. The majority of us, however, think that this marks up our roadmap to overall good health. But what about the brain?
The brain is no longer a mystery. Research clearly tells us that we have to exercise it to keep it healthy. But exercising it does not even cross the minds of the vast majority of us.
And what does exercising the brain really look like? Should it do sit-ups and yoga, along with strength and resistance training? The answer is, yes, absolutely. But you don’t have to join a gym and get a pair of athletic shoes.
Exercising the brain involves stretching it to improve its flexibility, its strength, and its ability to regenerate lost cells. This exercise is so very easy, and something we can all do.
Here are 5 easy ways to exercise your brain:
Do Problem-Solving Puzzles
Get a Sudoku or Crossword puzzle book and pick at it each day. You can even download free apps for these puzzles, so there is no excuse that they aren’t available.
Start with ones that you can easily complete. Then slowly work towards the medium and hard ones. Don’t be too eager to stump yourself, as this may turn you off doing it each day.
Problem-solving stretches the brain, but like the body, you don’t want to pull a muscle. There are so many of these puzzles/apps that if you don’t like Sudoku or Crosswords, you can pick another. Even solitaire is a good option.
Do Some Things a Bit Differently to Break Brain Patterns
Breaking brain patterns means the brain doesn’t get into a rut. Like with the rest of your body, if you don’t use a muscle, it won’t maintain itself. The easiest way to do this is to use your opposite hand for easy things such as opening doors, moving a cup, using the TV converter.
This creates new patterns that stretch and build the brain. You can even take a different route to your usual destinations, wash your face after you brush your teeth at bedtime, and consider getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
Memorize Something Simple
Open any book, newspaper, magazine, or even something online, and pick a sentence at random. Make sure it’s less than 20 words. Read it a few times, and then say it 8 to 10 times out loud. Then repeat it in 20 minutes.
If you’ve forgotten, no worries. Repeat the memory process of reading it and saying it out loud. Then again, repeat it in 20 minutes, and every few hours through the day.
Some days you could use your grocery order, a list of your favourite singers, or your top 10 movie titles. Mix it up. As you get better, increase the word count. Have fun with it as you stretch your brain.
Do Something Creative
Draw a picture, arrange some flowers, or reorganize your closet. Creativity is good for the brain as it reduces stress and improves problem solving.
Try to do something creative every day. There are so many choices, including gardening, all sorts of crafting, sewing as well as knitting and crocheting.
Even if you don’t have any skills with a craft, you could still pick up a pencil and draw a cat, a dog, or even your coffee mug. It isn’t about how creative you are, it’s only about being creative.
Try Something New
Doing something you haven’t done before is a perfect way to stretch and build your brain. Try a new hobby, visit a new place, taste a new food, take a course, or start to learn a new language. These are great examples of things you can do to boost your brain capacity.
Remember, you don’t have to be good at it, the idea is to introduce new patterns and processes into your brain. And trying something new is fun and exciting. Who knew you could bake such great cookies?
It’s Really Simple
Do you feel like your brain is rusty or full of cobwebs? You can do something about this so easily. Try to do a few of the above each day. Within a few weeks you’ll feel the difference.
You can even do brain exercises online with sites like BrainHQ.com and Lumosity.com. They both provide some free puzzles, but they do want you to join up to access their full services.
For overall good health, make good choices with your diet, include physical activity in your daily route, and don’t forget to exercise your brain.
About The GreenFields Continuing Care Community
The GreenFields Continuing Care Community provides for the physical, social, and spiritual needs of residents in a Christian environment. In addition to skilled nursing, subacute rehabilitation, and outpatient therapy at GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center, The GreenFields offers a variety of living arrangements and support levels based on individual needs. This includes independent living apartments in GreenField Manor; assisted living apartments in GreenField Court; and memory care and enhanced assisted living in GreenField Terrace.