Just as you would exercise your body to stay active, you should also exercise your brain to keep its function sharp and on track. And just like your body, your brain should be kept active throughout your lifetime. By keeping your brain in shape, you can help reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline by adopting healthy habits like not smoking, limiting your alcohol intake, getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and staying physically active.
That’s not all. By working on improving your brain health and cognitive reserve you will keep your brain fit and active, and this, in turn, will enhance your life. For those that don’t know, cognitive reserve simply refers to the mental processes of judgment, perception, memory, reasoning, and retention of information. If this is news to you, then you’ve already completed step number 4!
Now no one said that exercising your brain had to be boring. There are plenty of ways to keep your brain active while having fun at the same time. Here are 10 activities that do just that.
1 – Play Games like a Child
There are many games that have surprising cognitive benefits. Just think back to the games you played as a child and you may realize that a lot of them were lessons in disguise. That’s not uncommon, as it’s often believed that children learn by playing games. However, as we enter adulthood, life often takes over, and we no longer have time for simple pleasures, such as playing a game of chess, or cards.
Do you remember the game where you put items on a tray, remove one thing from the tray and move the other objects around? Now you have to remember what is missing. By doing this simple game either online or in real terms, you will strengthen your memory and ability to recall.
2 – Tickle Your Feet
One of your most vital senses is your ability to feel and touch. The sensation is particularly sensitive in your feet, which is why most people find them ticklish, to the extent that even the idea of someone tickling your feet can make you giggle.
The reason your feet are so sensitive is because they are full of nerves. The fibrous tissue called the plantar fascia that runs along the bottom of your foot and up the back of your heel is especially sensitive. By stimulating the plantar fascia, you boost your brain, increase your foot health, and decrease your chances of getting a painful foot inflammation called plantar fasciitis.
Not only that but you also create a sense of well-being, which suggests that this form of cognitive therapy can only be a good thing.
3 – Use All Your Senses
You will do this without even knowing it. This is because your five senses – sight, sense of smell, taste, and touch – are constantly at work. What is perhaps more surprising is that they can be used to exercise your brain.
Mindfully exercise your sight by looking into the distance, focusing on a tree or a building, and taking a minute to register the details. The same principle applies to your sense of smell. Literally wake up and smell the coffee, the roses, and anything else with a strong but pleasant odor.
Work on your sense of taste by trying different and unusual food and drink. If you have never tried a ginger shot or a spicy curry, give it a go but don’t just ingest; take time to taste and experience the flavors and how those flavors make you feel.
4 – Go Back to School
Now is the time to go back to school and learn something new. Think about all the things you love doing and look for a related topic to study. You don’t need to qualify unless you want to; merely engaging will improve your memory and stimulate your recall.
Going back to school doesn’t have to cost a fortune as there are many free online courses and let’s not forget about youtube.
5 – Listen to Music
You know how it is when you’re in the car, and a track comes on that you haven’t heard for a while? 9/10, you will remember the lyrics even if you haven’t listened to the song for years.
Take this idea one step further by listening to new music and memorizing the words. Getting set in your ways and tastes can age your brain. Open your mind and feel yourself getting younger and more alive with every new track.
6 – Take Up Line Dancing
Line dancing is a combination of great exercises designed to keep your brain healthy. You can keep your mind active, your body fit, and your memory stimulated.
For line dancing to work, you need to memorize the steps, listen to music, and participate in dancing. By putting all these things together, you are boosting your endorphins, which activates your brain. It’s also fun, which means you won’t feel like you’re exercising. It’s a win-win situation.
If you don’t fancy line dancing, the same concept is available in salsa dancing, Zumba, or even an old fashioned tea dance. So pick up your dancing shoes and dance your brain back to health.
7- Get Excited
Stimulate your happy hormone, dopamine, by getting excited. Think of all the things you love. It might be bingo or online dating, or shopping. Maybe it’s skydiving or tight rope walking? The principle applies to anything that makes your heart race and your pulse quicken.
Combine the dopamine and endorphins with your memory exercises, and you have a recipe for an active mind with a side order of fun.
8 – Laugh Out Loud
Just by laughing, you will activate your sense of fun and, in turn, alleviate stress. Stress is believed to be a significant factor in declining brain health. While we can’t always avoid stressful situations, we must try to manage them, which brings us to mediation.
9 – Meditate
Many people find the idea of mediation daunting because it appears very difficult, but believe us when we say it isn’t, and here’s why.
Just sitting still for 10 minutes a day, comfortable, and thinking about just breathing and being present in mediation. Okay, it’s not what most people think of when you say the word mediation, but this easy option of a quiet 10 minutes will have the same effect, and over time you can increase and deepen your meditation technique.
10 – Talking Helps
Why not pick up the phone and call a friend or relative? Talking but, more importantly, listening is excellent restorative therapy. The exercise is two-fold. You are relieving stress by talking about your day and problems and listening to theirs. You will also undoubtedly learn something new. The conversation doesn’t have to be mind-blowing, just stimulating.
Try steps 1-10 in this guide to keeping your mind active and have fun while you’re doing it.