Your mind needs exercise in the same way that you need physical activity to build your muscles and keep your body healthy. The benefits of mental workouts include preventing memory loss and even delay the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s. These mental exercises also improve visual-spatial reasoning, problem-solving, and more, according to USA Today.
However, like physical workouts, it’s challenging to find the time to sit down and solve some mental problems. But there are mental workouts you could do even while you relax.
You need to gain new experiences to make the brain healthier continuously. These new experiences should be combined with daily routines, such as brushing your teeth. For example, you can use your non-dominant hand while brushing your hair, or taking a shower. These simple activities might seem minor, but they are creating new connections in your brain as they collect the sensations and information about the new experience.
This will stimulate the connections between different parts of the brain. It will help with your memory and make your mind more resistant to the effects of aging.
Bill Gates very rarely goes on a vacation without a jigsaw puzzle in his suitcase. It is his way to reduce his stress levels. Puzzles are the quintessential brain workout because they engage both the right and left sides of the brain. By doing even a 300-piece puzzle, you can reap the benefits of mental workouts, including improving memory and boosting problem-solving skills. Take it up a notch and time your sessions.
You can even make it a fun activity for the whole family. A study from Yale University found that working on jigsaw puzzles together builds cooperation and collaboration among participants.
There is also a whole array of puzzles you can try instead of the classic jigsaw. Try Sudoku or crossword puzzles. They may focus on different parts of your brain, but they’re all highly effective as mental workouts.
Learning a new language or a musical instrument over some time engages the brain in a way that few else can. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health PMC, continuously figuring out something complex can help sustain cognitive function, especially in an aging brain. Its effects are similar to that of giving your brain new experiences. The main difference is that this builds upon your previous progress, and the more complex the next steps are, the more engaged your brain will be.
Everyday Health also mentions that a rich vocabulary from a new language can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the long run.
Although these examples seem pretty time-consuming and tedious, merely listening to audiobooks or trying websites like Duolingo can build your knowledge over time and help you learn.
Reading is something that can be done virtually anywhere. With the power of your pocket computer, AKA smartphone, you can access a vast library of potential reading materials. Reading can also prepare your mind for a good night’s sleep and even alleviate symptoms of depression.
Don’t forget to miss that all-important mental workout. Have you done yours today?