The 8 Best Exercises to Strengthen Your Brain
Increasing brain power is a healthy habit that should be done on a regular basis. Just as physical exercise is one of the best ways to increase our body’s strength, endurance and flexibility, there are certain workouts to strengthen your brain.
This is essential to help preserve memory and other important skills. Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of exercises that take care of your health and protect cognitive functions. Here are the 8 best ones so you can start including them in your routine.
8 Activities to Strengthen your Brain
As strange as it may sound, the brain remains active even when the body is at rest. Just as we exercise to stay healthy, the complexity of this organ requires specific activities to keep it in good shape. Learn more about them below.
1. Writing by hand
We are in an age where technology is taking over everything. It helps us with everyday tasks including writing and communicating. Tablets, cell phones, computers, and other devices with keyboards help us to save time. Of course, it makes doing certain tasks more efficient.
However, writing by hand is an ability you shouldn’t let go of. This activity stimulates areas of the brain that help significantly with learning. This is because this part of the body processes what you’re doing while you focus on writing.
This is confirmed by a study published in Psychology Today, which proves that this practice, especially if it’s in cursive writing, causes the mind to develop a kind of functional specialization that integrates both sensation and movement control, as well as thought.
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2. Practice simple math every day
Math problems are one of the best mental exercises to strengthen your memory and increase your mental capacity. In fact, research published in Age magazine found that solving arithmetic problems proved effective in improving cognitive functions in the elderly.
The exercises can be done by hand, or you can take advantage of some of the applications that have been designed for mobile devices and computers. A good option is to do the one-minute challenge, which consists of solving as many mathematical problems as possible before the 60 seconds are up.
3. Strengthen your brain with Sudoku
The classic game “Sudoku” is a mental activity. The objective of the game is to fill in a grid using numbers from 1 to 9. But the catch is you can’t repeat a number in any direction. This game is mentally challenging and helps improve problem-solving skills.
In relation to this, a study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry points out that playing stimulating games such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles could benefit brain function in people over the age of 50.
4. Do jigsaw puzzles
Another exercise to strengthen your brain is to do jigsaw puzzles. This activity, according to a study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, is an excellent way to improve cognitive skills, since when trying to complete the image, different pieces must be analyzed to find out where they fit.
Reading is a basic activity to increase your mental capacity and develop your cognitive processes. Also, it relaxes the mind and helps you reduce the tension associated with stress and anxiety.
As stated in a study by Brain Connectivity, it was shown by means of magnetic resonance imaging, that during reading a novel, the brain connectivity of participants increased in the part of the brain that responds to physical sensations such as movement and pain.
6. Learn another language
Regardless of your age, this activity helps a lot. Learning another language activates specific regions of the cerebral cortex associated with acoustic processing, comprehension and word articulation. In addition, it enhances the learning capacity.
According to a publication in Cerebrum, bilingualism can contribute to better memory, better visual-spatial skills and higher levels of creativity. It’s never too late to learn. Take the plunge into a new language and enjoy the benefits of this new skill.
It’s no secret that exercise is essential for good health, both of the body and mind. Walking and similar activities can improve cognitive function in the elderly, including verbal memory, fluency and attention.
In this regard, information published by Harvard Medical School suggests that physical activity slows cognitive decline and may even reduce the risk of dementia. It also suggests that the benefits are almost instantaneous. So don’t hesitate to exercise if you need to concentrate or solve problems. Check out the results!
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8. Develop a new skill, ideal for strengthening your brain
Similarly to learning a new language, as indicated by a study published in the journal Psychological Science, developing a new skill activates reasoning, promotes continuous learning and stimulates the intellect, which could help improve memory in older adults.
As you can see, all of these simple exercises are stimulating brain activity and are also a good option to mitigate the effects of stress. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to take care of your health, so go ahead and practice them!
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- González, R. & Hornauer, A. (2014). Cerebro y lenguaje. Cerebro y Lenguaje. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004
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- Psychology Today. Why writing by hand could make you smarter. Recuperado el 2 de octubre de 2020. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201303/why-writing-hand-could-make-you-smarter
- Uchida, S., Kawashima, R. Reading and solving arithmetic problems improves cognitive functions of normal aged people: a randomized controlled study. AGE 30, 21–29 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-007-9044-x
- Fissler, P., Küster, O. C., Laptinskaya, D., Loy, L. S., von Arnim, C., & Kolassa, I. T. (2018). Jigsaw Puzzling Taps Multiple Cognitive Abilities and Is a Potential Protective Factor for Cognitive Aging. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 10, 299. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2018.00299
- Marian, V., & Shook, A. (2012). The cognitive benefits of being bilingual. Cerebrum : the Dana forum on brain science, 2012, 13.
- Harvard Medical School. Need a quick brain boost? Take a walk. (2016). Recuperado el 2 de octubre de 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/need-a-quick-brain-boost-take-a-walk
- Park, D. C., Lodi-Smith, J., Drew, L., Haber, S., Hebrank, A., Bischof, G. N., & Aamodt, W. (2014). The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project. Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613499592
- Brooker, H., Wesnes, K. A., Ballard, C., Hampshire, A., Aarsland, D., Khan, Z., Stenton, R., Megalogeni, M., & Corbett, A. (2019). The relationship between the frequency of number-puzzle use and baseline cognitive function in a large online sample of adults aged 50 and over. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.5085