8 Exercises That Makes Your Brain Stronger
Without regular physical exercise, we lose muscle mass. The same applies to our brain – a large muscle that needs regular stimulation and exercise to stay strong and healthy. Our brain has a cognitive reserve which is vital to surviving neurological damage such as aging without resulting in memory loss. Researchers are now grasping the concept of brain exercises which can increase the brain’s cognitive reserve.
Previously, exercises like crosswords, brain teasers and Sudoku was said to make the brain stronger. It may still be the case now. But a better way to increase the cognitive reserve in your brain and make it stronger is stimulating it with different, complex and new experiences.
In today’s fast-paced world everything is scheduled and routine based. We have to-do lists, shopping lists, phone numbers on speed dial and a strict unchangeable routine for our children. If everything is so planned in life; how will the brain get any opportunity to make decisions, solve problems or be of any use? Our body gets soft, muscle-less, tired and lethargic without any physical activity. Similarly, our brain gets sluggish and starts to deteriorate when its not used to its full potential.
A commendable research on brain exercises has been conducted by Dr. Lawrence Katz, a neurobiologist and also a pioneer in regeneration exploration. His research explains that mental decay may not be due to loss of brain cells. In fact, it may be due to lack of communication between brain cells.
His book, ‘Keep your brain alive’ focuses on neurobics which are exercises for the brain using all five senses; sight, hear, smell, touch and taste in a new way. Katz argues that most brain strengthening exercises use just one or two senses like sight and hear. However, using all five senses for one activity properly stimulates all the connections between the brain cells. This drastically improves memory and fights side effects of aging as well as neurological disorders like dementia.
Some exercises or neurobics, as Dr. Katz says, will surely make your brain stronger, such as;
- Switch hands
Switching hands is probably the best and most accessible exercise to give your brain some juice. Using your non-dominant hand is difficult; hence, it gives the brain a good workout. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or use the computer mouse. It may be tough at first but you will soon see results when your brain pushes harder to achieve desirable results.
- Read aloud
This may sound a bit silly and too easy but reading aloud actually sparks the imagination in a different manner. Like switching hands, reading aloud is pretty easy to do. All you need is a book or magazine and preferably a reading partner. Take turns reading to your partner and listening to them read. Katz’s research states that three different regions of the brain were lit up by the same word being spoken, heard and read. Hence, reading aloud ensures a good, complete brain work-out.
- Turn things upside down or backwards
When you see anything the right side up, your brain automatically labels it correct and moves on without focusing on it. However, if the same object is kept upside down; the brain gets perplexed and tries to understand the pattern, colors and shapes.
Another way to exercise your brain is to wear your watch upside down. Constantly trying to tell the time on an upside down watch is a vigorous exercise for your brain. It will also make the brain sharper and soon you will easily be able to tell the time without much difficulty.
- New routes
The routes we take in our daily life are on auto-pilot. We know exactly which road and highway to take for work. We even know in which spot we will experience a little traffic and where we can speed up. This mundane and unexciting routine doesn’t do much for brain activity.
To better stimulate your brain early in the day, take new routes to work. Driving on unfamiliar routes and exploring new ways activates the cortex and hippocampus in our brains. You can also take new routes while walking or cycling to your destination.
- Take the hard way
One reason why our brain is slowing down and the surge of neurological disorders is technology. We barely use our brains for calculations or remembering numbers. Just like celebrities expose their bodies to difficult exercises for having the perfectly sculpted body, we must also sustain hard exercises on our brains.
For starters you can start remembering phone numbers. You can also start doing calculations using your brain and not the calculator on your smart phones. Another thing common in people nowadays is not knowing their spellings. We depend so heavily on auto-correct that we have forgotten even the most basic spellings. Why won’t dementia and Alzheimer’s occur at the rate which we ourselves are making our young brains redundant?
A survey revealed that the hippocampus, the part in the brain responsible for storing and organizing memories, is larger in a London cab driver. This is because London cabbies must learn 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks to get a cab driving license. With such an exhilarated brain, it is no doubt they have a larger hippocampus than normal GPS dependent people.
- Learn a new language
A new language will enhance your vocabulary, which is integral for the cognitive reserve to thrive. Moreover, hearing, speaking and learning new words excites the brain like no other activity could!
- Take a new creative hobby
Instead of sitting like an average American and watching television for more than a quarter of a day; take up a hobby to help exercise your brain. Knitting is probably the highest voted hobby which increases focus and makes it stronger. Other activities such as cooking, meditating, gardening, arts and crafts also fuels the neurological system.
- Try new things
Keep trying out new things. One way would be to try out new cuisines. The different texture, color, flavor and smell of different cuisines does a great job in stimulating not only your taste buds but also your brain. Other things could be to travel more and do exciting activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, etc. Even a good adrenaline rush is a sign of the brain being exercised and that is a good sign.
There are many other things you can do on a daily basis to keep your brains energized and active. You should just have an open mind to accept new things and new challenges. Merely, accepting a new challenge is exercise for the brain. Hence, don’t shy away from new challenges and new things. Also keep finding ways to use your brain more rather than finding a short-cut with smartphones.