The brain is an organ and, as such, it requires oxygen and exercise, just like the heart and lungs. Feed your mind and you’ll feel emotionally and physically invigorated. It may be too soon to succumb to middle-aged worries about “using it or losing it,” or to start fretting about Alzheimer’s and other degenerative disease. Nonetheless, it’s still important to focus on keeping your brain in shape.
By regularly engaging in the right activities, you can increase your memory, improve your problem-solving skills and boost your creativity. Here are some tips on how to keep your mind active.
1. Do yoga.
You might be surprised at how strenuous yoga can be. Beyond the physical demands that give your entire body a workout, yoga has great calming and relaxation qualities.
Brain benefits: Yoga forces you to focus on controlling all your muscles and your breathing. You’ll let your worries slide away, giving your mind a rest from stress.
2. Play a game.
Challenge a colleague to a game of chess at lunch. Invite friends over for an evening of cards. Besides the social aspects, such activities will keep your mind active.
Brain benefits: You’ll use your memory and expand your powers of recall. You’ll also test your mathematical skills and logic.
3. Subscribe to a daily newsletter.
Whether it’s a “word of the day,” “quote of the day” or “this day in history” newsletter, receiving new information each day will add data to the hard drive in your head.
Brain benefits: The mental stimulation will increase your comprehension skills. The additional knowledge will also make you sound more worldly and intelligent.
4. Grab the controller.
Believe it or not, playing certain video games really can be good for your health. The operative word here, however, is “certain” — choose games that involve strategy or problem solving.
Brain benefits: Problem solving and role-playing games will help you practice strategic planning. You’ll also improve your hand-eye coordination.
5. Build a model.
Remember the fun you had as a kid making model airplanes and cars? Recreate that by building a miniature model.
Brain benefits: Following all those written instructions sharpens your powers of concentration. Focusing on the task at hand will also be very relaxing.
6. Learn an instrument.
Pull out your old guitar, sign up for piano lessons or rent a trumpet or a clarinet. Learning how to make music will stimulate your creativity.
Brain benefits: Reading music provides mental stimulation. Playing an instrument requires powers of recall as well as concentration to maintain tune and tempo.
7. Do a crossword.
Stick The New York Times crossword puzzle in your briefcase, then get to work on it during your commute or while you’re waiting for an appointment or a meeting to begin.
Brain benefits: You’ll improve your cognitive skills and creative thinking as well as your word power and vocabulary.
8. Engage in a debate.
A lively discussion can be invigorating. As long as you avoid letting it digress into an argument, you can have a lot of fun debating the pros and cons of an issue with a friend or colleague.
Brain benefits: You’ll practice your quick-thinking skills, logic and creativity. Developing convincing theories on the spot will help you in your career and in your personal relationships.
9. Read a book.
Choose from classic literature, science fiction or career-enhancing business books and give your brain a boost. Pick up a novel before your next business flight or vacation. On top of the cerebral benefits, the escapism that comes from reading can be very relaxing.
Brain benefits: Reading helps you exercise your cognitive skills and increase your vocabulary. Do it regularly and you’ll be amazed at the information you absorb, which will make you a more interesting conversationalist.
10. Take a course.
Learn something new. Sign up for a cooking class, register for martial arts training or enroll in a wine tasting seminar.
Brain benefits: You’ll be challenging yourself to absorb new concepts, information and ideas, and you’ll hone your retention skills through memorization.
Lace up your running shoes and get moving. Even if you never plan to run a marathon, it will get both your body and mind in shape.
Brain benefits: Running will increase the levels of oxygen in your brain and flowing through your body. In turn, your body will release more endorphin’s, which will make you feel energized while producing a sense of pleasure and well-being.
Keep your mental faculties in tip-top shape by giving yourself plenty of opportunities for mental stimulation. Use your cognitive skills, test your powers of recall, improve your memory, and challenge yourself to be more creative in your thinking. You’ll reap great brain-boosting benefits by keeping your mind active.