If Only There Was a Gym For Our Brains

If Only There Was a Gym For Our Brains

Many people, including seniors, exercise to keep their bodies and bones strong.  Research clearly shows that people who partake in a wide-range of healthy behaviors significantly reduce their risk for dementia. This means we need to be as active with our brains as we are with our bodies.

 

If only there was a gym for our brains.  Actually, there is.  Like those for the body, there are activities and exercises for the brain.  And they often take little time, can be fun and offer socialization as well.  Below some of the best of these activities and exercises are broken down by category.

 

People can pick and choose the ones they want to use to stimulate the brain and keep it strong.  Start with just a group of a few, after spending a few months on those, change to a new group.

 

Physical

  • Hold toothbrush in the opposite hand (this is more difficult than it sounds)
  • Use hand that is the opposite of the one normally used for activities (eating, brushing/combing hair, washing in shower, applying cream, getting a glass or plate, etc)
  • Use chopsticks even for non-Asian food such as vegetables
  • Juggling (simple tennis balls – start with two)

 

Routine

  • Change routine – morning, afternoon, evening – do things in different order. If vitamins are normally taken after brushing teeth, reverse the order, etc.
  • Turn photos and possibly some pictures on the wall upside down – the brain will respond by concentrating harder to sort out the image
  • Bring new scents into the home:  peppermint, lavender, vanilla – can be done with diffuser or sprays: vanilla, lavender, peppermint in tea or other warm liquids that disperse it in the air.
  • Sit in a different chair than the usual one

 

Items/Maps

  • Make a list of items, wait an hour and try to recall the items on the list
  • Draw a map from memory – this could be a map of the cruise ship on recently or the map of a few blocks in your neighborhood or work route

 

Music/Art/Language

  • Music stimulates the brain, particularly new music genres or pieces not listened to on a regular basis
  • Learning a new language
  • Learning to draw or play an instrument

 

Math/Puzzles/Games

Math

  • Do simple math without paper or calculator
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Regular puzzles
  • Place several coins in a container, close eyes and determine which item is which amount

Games:

Can be done alone:

  • Memory – the game where you put a deck of cards face down, then turn two over at a time to try and match them until the deck is done.  More fun with others – which is true of all games.
  • Sudoku – hard but great for the mind

Must be done with another person:

  • Dominoes
  • Scrabble