This is a review of a recent article in Medical News Today, entitled “22 brain exercises to improve memory, cognition and creativity”.
The brain is the most complex organ of the body. It regulates multiple bodily functions, interprets incoming sensory information, and processes our emotions. It is also the seat of memory, intelligence, and creativity.
Brain exercises can be as simple as actively engaging the brain in everyday tasks. Others are targeted workouts for the brain, specifically designed to enhance memory, cognition or creativity.
Exercising the brain may help improve brain function and boost connectivity between the different areas. This may help protect the brain from age-related degeneration.
Meditation generally involves focusing attention in a calm, controlled way. Meditating may have multiple benefits for both the brain and the body.
According to a recent research study, meditation may benefit the brain by slowing brain aging and increasing the brain’s ability to process information.
Click here for the different types of meditation you can do: Mindfulness , focused, spiritual, movement, visualization, and chanting meditation.
Visualization involves forming a mental image to represent information. The mental image may be in the form of pictures or animated scenes.
A recent study demonstrated that visualization helps people organize information and make appropriate decisions.
Playing card games or board games can be a fun way to socialize or pass the time. These activities may also be beneficial for the brain. A 2017 study found a link between playing games and a decreased risk of cognitive impairment in older adults.
Playing Memory Card Games
Memory card games test a person’s short-term memory and ability to remember patterns. They are a simple and fun way to engage the brain and activate areas related to pattern recognition and recall.
Practicing Crossword Puzzles
Crossword puzzles are a popular activity that may stimulate the brain.
A 2011 study notes that crossword puzzles may delay the onset of memory decline in people with preclinical dementia.
Recent research has demonstrated that chess and other cognitive leisure activities may lead to improvements in memory, executive functioning (the ability to monitor and adapt behavior in order to meet set goals), and information processing speed.
Completing jigsaw puzzles
Completing a jigsaw puzzle can be a good way to pass the time and may also benefit the brain. A 2018 study found that puzzles activate many cognitive functions, including: perception, mental rotation, working memory, reasoning.
The study concluded that doing jigsaw puzzles regularly and throughout life may protect against the effects of brain aging.
Number puzzles, such as sudoku, can be a fun way to challenge the brain. They may also improve cognitive function in some people.
A 2019 study of adults aged between 50 and 93 years found that those who practiced number puzzles more frequently tended to have better cognitive function.
A 2015 study found that there is a connection between regular participation in checkers or other cognitively stimulating games and larger brain volume and improved markers of cognitive health in people at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Playing video games
A 2015 review notes that some types of video games — such as action, puzzle, and strategy games — may lead to improvements in attention, problem solving, and cognitive flexibility.
Enjoying company of friends may be a mentally engaging leisure activity and may help preserve cognitive function. A 2019 study found that people with more frequent social contact were less likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia.
Learning new skills
Learning new skills engages the brain in different ways and may help improve brain function.
Increasing personal vocabulary
Increasing one’s vocabulary range is a great way to broaden knowledge while exercising the brain.
A simple way to increase vocabulary is to read a book or watch a TV program and note down any words that are unfamiliar. A person can then use a dictionary to look up the meaning of the word and think up ways to use the word in a sentence.
Learning a new language
A 2019 study notes that bilingualism increases and strengthens connectivity between different areas of the brain. The researchers propose that this enhanced connectivity may play a role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Listening to music
A 2018 study published in Brain Sciences found that listening to music a person enjoys engages and connects different parts of the brain, leading to improvements in cognitive function and overall well-being.
Learning a musical instrument
Learning an instrument exercises parts of the brain that are responsible for coordination.
According to a 2014 study, playing an instrument may benefit cognitive development in a young brain and help protect against cognitive impairment in an aging brain.
Taking up engaging hobbies
Taking up a new hobby can be mentally stimulating and exercise the brain in new ways.
Hobbies that require coordination or dexterity will activate a person’s motor skills. Such hobbies may include knitting, embroidery, drawing, painting and dancing.
Regular physical exercise is beneficial for both the brain and the body. Authors of a 2019 review note that exercise improves the following aspects of brain health: memory, cognition and motor coordination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exercise has beneficial effects on the following aspects of cognitive health: memory, planning and organization.
Dance is a form of exercise that may also engage areas of the brain involved in rhythm and balance.
Engaging in sports
Certain sports are both physically and mentally demanding. Some require a range of cognitive skills, such as: sustained attention, planning, multitasking and the ability to adapt rapidly to changing situations.
Practicing tai chi
Tai chi is a form of physical exercise that involves gentle body movements, rhythmic breathing, and meditation.
A recent study found that the tai chi practitioners had enhanced connectivity between different regions of their brain. They proposed that this may improve cognition and decrease the rate of memory loss.
While not necessarily an active exercise, sleep is crucial for both the brain and the body.
A 2015 review notes that sleep has been proven to boost memory recall, reduce mental fatigue and regulate metabolism.
I hope you enjoyed this article describing 22 brain exercises to improve memory, cognition and creativity. If you did, you might want to try some of these exercises and let us know the results you obtained.
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