The brain – it is arguably our most important organ. While the heart may keep the blood flowing, the brain gives us control, personality, and so much more than we can even imagine. There have been previous posts on the Meals On Wheels San Diego blog about how to work out the body, and how working out the body is actually good for the brain, but the brain deserves a work out itself. Luckily for us, while not everyone likes the treadmill, biking or a little light weightlifting, brain exercises tend to be fun activities. Hopefully you can find an brain exercise that you can enjoy!
Read. Yes, reading is good for the soul – and the brain! Reading is an excellent exercise for your brain because it makes your brain multitask (without you realizing it). When you read you must see and interpret the letters into larger words, into what the words mean, and then connect them to larger ideas and overall narrative – really, your brain is putting a lot of things together for you. According to the Mayo Clinic reading helps decrease the chances of cognitive impairment. The good news is you don’t have to be reading Tolstoy or A Brief History of Time to give your brain a good work out – reading anything will do, from newspapers to Twilight!
Play More Games. What a wonderful piece of advice! Games can involve strategy, cooperation, concentration, and multitasking in a fun environment – you can exercise your brain in a way that isn’t stressful the way multitasking at work might be. “Games” is a broad word these days, but in this case, that is a good thing; board games, like the classic Monopoly, word games like Scrabble, and card games are all great “exercises” for the brain. While video games have to a certain degree replaced TV as the media menace that will “rot your brain,” video games have also recently been proven to enhance decision making, strategy, and creativity, so feel free to use video games as a brain exercise. Socializing during game play is good – but “gaming” can be a personal experience as well with games and puzzles like Sudoku, so don’t let the fact that no one else is in the house at the moment limit your game brain exercises!
Find Online Resources. You may have recently seen ads on TV for Lumosity, an online program that through activities like games will help you improve memory, attention, and overall function. Lumosity is far from the only program available when it comes to “brain exercise” as a quick Google search will tell you, BrainHQ is another popular service as well. Of course, with these services comes the ever important question – is it free? The answer is… sort of, most programs will let you play a limited number of games for free, but if you want to get further into the program you may have to shill out a few bucks. But, online resources is not limited to the just the brain training programs, searching the internet can bring you a plethora of teasers and puzzles (this list of fun, free, brain-healthy games for example). Sporcle is also a great site for fun quizzes and riddles on many, many topics – can you name all the U.S. presidents to date or the 200 most frequently mentioned characters from Harry Potter? Try it out!
Learn! Just because you are no longer a student doesn’t mean the world isn’t boundless in terms of things to learn and explore. “Learning” is obviously good for the brain – it is understanding, gaining and storing new information. Make a point to really “learn something new everyday.” Not sure where to start? Think of something that has always interested you but you might not know much about – I for one have always been interested in gardening but can’t say I know much about it, this is the perfect opportunity to pick up a book about say, roses, or even just do a quick Wikipedia search on the topic. Can’t think of anything you’d like to learn about off the top of your head? Click the “random article” button on Wikipedia, or look at something mundane in your life and just research away! A great interesting topic to research is food – look at what you ate for breakfast or dinner and Google “history of eggs” or “history of spaghetti” – what you find may surprise you!
Article by Nika Reyes