The human brain is mysterious and fascinating. Even now, we barely know what it is capable of. Maintaining a healthy brain is crucial to stay active and have mental clarity that is necessary to lead a healthy and happy life. Luckily, there are ways to increase our brain power with the help of simple mind-training exercises and healthy habits.
The brain has the ability to change, develop, and create new connections due to its plasticity. It means that every time we learn something new or gain new experience, it stimulates our mental capabilities. Our brain reserve starts to develop in early childhood, and this process continues throughout our adult years. Whenever we take up a new activity or learn a skill, we build our reserve and help our brain to adapt to changes.
Brain training allows us to improve cognitive function. A growing body of scientific research proves that if we continuously engage in meaningful intellectual activities, we can improve our brain capacity. For example, the COGITO study conducted by Florian Schmiedek and colleagues proves the potential of cognitive training to improve the intellectual competence of adults. The study involved 204 participants, both younger and older adults (20–31 years old and 65–80 years old). They had regular 1-hour brain training sessions for 100 days. At the end of this period, both groups had significant improvements in their perceptual speed, working, and episodic memory.
Besides, brain fitness enhances our fluid intelligence. Instead of focusing on one topic or subject, it gives us the tools to address different learning challenges and improve our ability to think and analyze information. These brain-based abilities are crucial to deal with any tasks. Therefore, brain training is beneficial as it makes people more focused and alert.
7 Ways to Train Your Brain
Embracing new hobbies and activities will help you to keep your brain sharp and healthy. Here are some of the options for you to try.
- Add color. Painting is a meditative exercise that can enhance your brain function. It reduces stress and helps to relax, allowing you to focus on the present moment. This process results in higher serotonin levels. As a result, you get better sleep, appetite, mood, and improved learning mechanisms. Moreover, painting improves the connections between brain areas, preventing aging. Thanks to the positive impact of arts on the nervous system, you can also achieve stronger emotional balance and develop creative thinking.
- Read more. Reading integrates your cognitive, emotional, attentional, and sensory capacity, making new neural pathways. Therefore, it trains the brain and increases brain connectivity. It improves your concentration, cognition, and ability to empathize. Reading can also decrease stress levels and improve the quality of your sleep. It even influences your health condition by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
- Put pen to paper. Writing is another creative activity that allows you to train your brain. It helps to process information and sharpen your critical thinking skills. Additionally, regular writing exercises reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve your self-esteem. To get these health benefits, you can go for anything, including a traditional 5 paragraph essay, a certain creative writing exercise, or a reflection piece. Any of these activities will keep your mind active and engaged.
- Try finger gymnastics. Finger gymnastics is a workout for your brain. Use structured movements like lifting and lowering your hands, bending fingers, or pressing your fingertips together. This stimulation can help to strengthen your mind as each finger has thousands of receptors. Besides, you can try to use your non-dominant hand when performing some daily tasks like brushing your teeth or combing your hair.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity is beneficial for your brain. It helps to maintain cardiovascular health and improves blood flow to the brain. People who lead an active way of life are unlikely to experience a decline in their mental function. It is attributed to the fact that regular exercise promotes neuroplasticity. You can choose any type of physical activity. Swimming, dancing, riding a bike, yoga, stretching, planks, and even walking will help you to train both your body and mind.
- Games are not only for kids. You can also try different online games and apps that provide cognitive training programs. For example, NeuroNation, Elevate, Lumosity, etc. A study focused on young populations concludes that brain training games can enhance attention and memory. Moreover, they also improve your problem-solving and strategic thinking skills. You can try different puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, card games, and many other activities. Regular mental activity trains your mind just as physical exercise keeps your body fit.
- Just breathe. In our fast-moving society, people often forget to take some time for themselves and practice mindfulness. It is a terrible mistake as a simple meditation practice can improve the quality of your life. It makes you less scattered and foggy as you achieve concentration on the present moment. Besides, meditation is an effective way to reduce stress as it lowers cortisol levels. Practicing mindfulness regularly, you will notice a calming effect and see improvements in your concentration, sleep, and mood.
The choice of activities and games that can help you to keep your mind fit and healthy is wide and diverse. Yet, make sure that it is challenging enough and can provide you with new stimuli. Besides, the chosen activity should bring some novelty so that your brain has room for improvement. Finally, do not forget that any kind of exercise requires regular practice. Daily brain training can improve your mental function and well-being.
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