As a society, we’re constantly reminded to exercise our bodies, but when was the last time you were reminded to exercise your mind? Part of a healthy lifestyle involves exercising your brain. Your brain can be trained like a muscle, and without a good workout now and then, it can eventually shrink over time.1
Sedentary activities are not only bad for your physical health, they can also be detrimental to one’s brain.1 Engaging in more stimulating leisure or social activities are a great start to keeping your brain in shape.2 This is because when you actively engage the brain, more cells can be produced, as well as the connections between them. When the body has more brain cells on reserve, research suggests that this may be able to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.2 While more research is needed in this area of study, there are other health benefits to keeping your brain active—like boosting your memory and cognitive function—that are worth keeping in mind.2
What Types of Activities Can I Do?
Any type of stimulating mental activity can help exercise your brain. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you’re on the right track2:
- Does it incorporate new learning?
- Is the activity reasonably complex?
- Is the activity varied and interesting?
- Do you engage in the activity frequently?
Examples of Brain Exercises2
- Listening to the radio
- Visiting museums
- Taking a course
- Learning a new language
- Playing musical instruments
- Artistic/other hobbies
- Participation in leisure activities such as sports, dancing, or gardening
- Cultural activities and conversation
- Board games, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other puzzles
- Doing simple calculations
- Imaginary exercises to stimulate the senses (e.g., recalling a peaceful nature scene)
These are just a few ideas of things you can do to stimulate your brain. When you’re considering your overall brain health, you can also look to your diet, ensuring that it is well-balanced, low in fat and cholesterol, and high in antioxidants.1 Having the right nutrients in your body helps maintain cognitive function and stimulate proper brain function and development.3,4 You can also look to your physical exercise regime—regular physical activity can improve cognition,5 help memory and thinking processes, improve mood and sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety.6
Chiropractors care about your overall health and can help point you in the right direction if you have any questions or concerns about this topic.
Whatever activity you choose, remember that brain health is just as important as physical health, so keep finding new and creative ways to keep those mental juices flowing.
- Melone L. 10 brain exercises that boost memory. EverydayHealth.com. 2016. Available at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/longevity/mental-fitness/brain-exercises-for-memory.aspx. Accessed November 1, 2016.
- Alzheimer’s Australia. Mental exercise and dementia. 2016. Available at: https://www.fightdementia.org.au/files/helpsheets/Helpsheet-DementiaQandA06-MentalExercise_english.pdf. Accessed November 1, 2016.
- Lim S, Kim E, Kim A, Lee H, Choi H, Yang S. Nutritional Factors Affecting Mental Health. 1st ed. Seoul, Korea: Department of Food and Nutrition; 2016.
- Rathod R, Kale A, Joshi S. Novel insights into the effect of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function. J Biomed Sci. 2016; 23(1). doi:10.1186/s12929-016-0241-8.
- Chang Y, Chu C, Wang C, Song T, Wei G. Effect of acute exercise and cardiovascular fitness on cognitive function: An event-related cortical desynchronization study. Psychophysiology. 2014; 52(3): 342-51. doi:10.1111/psyp.12364.
- Godman H. Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills. Harvard Health Blog. 2016. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110. Accessed November 7, 2016.