Do you ever wonder how you can improve your memory, increase your processing ability, enhance your creativity and concentration?
Well, you’re on the right page!
Brain gymnastics or exercise helps the brain adapt by changing habits and performing mentally challenging activities.
These activities keep the brain active, thus stimulating the creation of new neurons and connections between them.
Various studies have shown that cognitive decline, inherent in age, can be counterbalanced by keeping our brains in shape throughout our lives.
The brain has great adaptability; it can change its functioning and structure while adapting to the environment and circumstances, this is called brain plasticity.
To stop or prevent cognitive decline, these 14 exercises will help activate your brain plasticity and improve your cognitive reserve.
14 Exercises for a Better, Healthier Brain
Travel stimulates the mind; it brings us into contact with new cultures, new places and foreign languages.
According to a study, contact with other cultures gives us the opportunity to gain new clinical knowledge, which enhances creativity and gives cognitive benefits.
If you have enough means to travel, do so.
Visit unknown places, immerse yourself in culture and learn from the locals.
If you can’t travel, surround yourself with different cultures, meet people from other countries or visit new places in your own city.
2Listen to music
Music is a strong stimulus for the brain.
Some studies have shown that listening to music activates the brain’s ability to learn and remember and can help slow down the neuro-degenerative process.
In addition, music has a positive effect on our mood and almost activates our entire brain. That’s why it’s a great brain stimulant.
Don’t stop listening to music, cooking or reading at home, in the car or at work, doing sports, etc.
It’s never too late to learn how to sing or play an instrument!
There are hundreds of video tutorials on the Internet that can help you with this.
3Get in touch with nature
The best gym for the brain is nature. Contact with nature takes away worries from daily obligations and stresses of everyday life.
According to a study, living in areas with green zones enhances our attention and our ability to wait longer and inhibits our impulses.
Be it a park or a green area from your office window, it can help you focus more.
In addition, contact with nature encourages us to be more physically active, connect with others, and engage in enjoyable activities.
There’s no need for you to move to the country if you are not surrounded by trees.
If the closest green zone you have is a walk in a nearby park or surrounding yourself with pictures of nature, then that still has certain advantages.
Try to escape on the weekend and go hiking, camping or biking.
Ditch your smartphones or other gadgets when taking notes and write using your hand instead.
It’s a good brain exercise; it increases memory and promotes learning. Writing by hand helps us process and edit information better.
Leave your laptop or tablet at home and take a notebook with you.
5Be Physically Active
According to many studies, physical activities and the enjoyment of it promote the formation of new neurons and improve learning and cognitive performance and enhances brain plasticity.
Sport mobilizes the expression of genes that favor brain plasticity processes.
So, take the time to run, dance, swim or do aerobics. Whatever sport you want to get into, do it!
A recent study shows that working in less mentally challenging and cluttered workplaces is a factor in cognitive decline.
Keeping a clean and orderly environment provides clarity and allows the mind to work better.
Throw away documents and things you don’t need. Maintain a clean and clear working environment.
| Related: Common Cognitive Enhancers for the Workplace
7Learn a new language
Speaking two or more languages protects the brain from cognitive deterioration, according to one study.
The study showed that bilinguals received a higher score on the intelligence scale. They also received higher ratings on cognitive testing than what was expected for their age.
Enroll in Korean, French, or any other language class, in your local community.
Then try to watch original movies without subtitles. Let your hearing get used to it, and the extra effort to understand will be a good stimulus to your mind.
8Sleep as much as you need
Too much or too little sleep is related to cognitive aging.
At a mature age, sleeping less than 6 hours and over 8 hours of sleep resulted in low ratings in cognitive testing which shows premature aging of the brain.
An adequate quality of sleep is fundamental to the proper function of the brain and overall well-being.
Both lack of sleep and excessive sleeping have unfavorable effects on performance, reaction times, and attention.
To maintain adequate sleep hygiene, maintaining a routine is best.
Try to get up and sleep at the same time. If you sleep a little, go to sleep a little earlier.
Forget your smartphone because the brightness of the screen can affect your sleep. By keeping a comfortable temperature, reducing surrounding noise and a dark environment will help you sleep better.
People who read less exhibit a lower level of cognitive performance, according to a study.
They get worse ratings in processing speed, attention, language and abstract thinking than those with a high reading level.
Higher-educated people use brain resources to compensate for the cognitive wear resulting from old age, they have greater compensatory functional plasticity, as we mentioned earlier. This can be applied in the same way to people who read habitually.
If you enjoy reading, then good for you. If you don’t, there are various topics on the Internet, magazines, newspapers, books you can check out.
The point is to keep the mind active.
10Do yoga and meditation
People who have been meditating for years have a higher amount of brain gyrus (creases in brain matter involved in faster information processing).
20 minutes of yoga improves the speed and accuracy of memory and impulse control tests (the ability to suppress behavior should it be necessary).
Yoga and meditation help reduce stress and worry and thus improve mental performance.
Today, yoga and meditation are the trend; many courses are available online which you can join and do at home.
What you eat influences your brain.
Eating healthy helps keep the brain young and prevent cognitive deterioration.
Alcohol, tobacco and drugs not only increase the risk of all kinds of diseases and contribute to the premature aging of the brain.
Pay attention to the intake of sugar and fats. The less alcohol you consume, the better, and seek a professional’s help if you can’t quit smoking.
Social relationships stimulate the brain. They help us stay active and younger longer.
It also reduces the stress of being with people, improves our mood and contributes to mental health.
Spend more time with loved ones especially those who radiate positivity, meet new people, and become part of social groups.
13Use your brain whenever you can
Using your brain is the best way not to lose it.
The new technologies are great because they’ve made our lives easier, but they’ve also made our brain lazier.
We used to work hard to learn and remember things but almost everything now is automated.
Give your brain a chance before you use your phone’s calculator, navigation system or even Google.
Memorize your shopping list or your to-do list. Do your daily newspaper’s crossword puzzle. Or engage in a game of chess or scrabble.
| Related: 10 Ways How You Can Improve Your Brain Power
14Give your brain a break
According to a study, two hours of silence a day promote neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons in the hippocampal zone (which is responsible for memory, learning and emotions).
In addition, it has been found that being exposed to constant noise can damage cognitive functions.
Eliminate all unnecessary sources of noise.
As much as possible, use quiet household appliances and don’t let the TV run as a background noise.
Listen to music, but rest from it too.
Some observe that pauses of two minutes between (slow and quiet) songs have relaxing effects. Dedicate 2 hours a day, or however much time you need, to absolute silence.
| Related: 7 Ways to Keep the Brain Healthy as You Age