Our research shows that people that stay active and play old fashioned games such as crossword puzzles score better on cognitive exams. It is therefore very important to keep your brain engaged in mental stimulation activities as you age. Think of these seven activities like exercises for your brain.
1. Do More Puzzles - working on puzzles has a similar effect as meditation. Dopamine is released while working on jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles, providing a sense of relaxation. Puzzles help build concentration, increases memory (especially short term memory because you need to recall the shapes and pictures of the puzzle pieces), and your cognitive skills become sharper. One study says that doing jigsaw puzzles regularly reduced chances of unwanted cognitive changes. It was even found in that people lived longer!
2. Play Chess – chess has multiple benefits for your brain. It enhances mental stimulation, exercises both sides of the brain, promotes problem solving skills, critical thinking, and enhances your planning skills. One study revealed that playing chess even increased your IQ!
3. Learn To Play A Musical Instrument – everybody knows that listening to music helps you to get into a better mood. It releases a chemical known as dopamine, nicknamed the “happy hormone.” But there is more. Music has the power to involve several areas of the brain. Just by learning an instrument, you are increasing your chances of better coordination, memory capacity, and better auditory processing skills. Not to mention, the attention you would receive in your social life! It’s never too late to pick up an instrument. All you need is to choose an instrument you like and practice. The more you practice, the better for your brain.
4. Get Back To Math – have you noticed your dependence level on calculators and computers? Most of us have left counting and calculating to devices, not realizing that doing math in your head is just what your brain needs. Math has been deemed food for the brain. You get better at analyzing and solving problems, you find out patterns and sequences, and you begin to enjoy working on complicated problems because you get busy trying to find a solution. So, the next time you need to split a bill at a restaurant, use your brain.
5. Learn A New Language - your brain sees language as an intricate task. When you are bilingual/multilingual, it means your brain needs to use more effort to process and speak. That’s not all, studies claim that people who can speak more than one language have more gray matter, and they are better at filtering out unnecessary words. Being bilingual acts as a constant exercise for your brain. You get better at memory and you are able to multitask better. If you aren’t bilingual, remember it’s never late to learn a new language.
6. Get Painting – most of think that painting is all about using and increasing creative skills. The truth is that while creative skills get improved, so does your overall cognitive skills. Painting helps to boost your memory, recalling skills, problem solving, and you develop fine motor skills. It’s an emotional getaway for you to relax and be calm with colors.
7. Dance Away – what does dancing have to do with increasing your brain health? Plenty. While listening to music enhances the brain’s reward centers, dancing focuses on the motor and sensory parts of the brain. One interesting research tells of how 11 activities were studied including cycling, swimming, tennis, but it was dancing that helped lower the risk of serious brain health issues. This is because dancing involves mental effort and social interaction. Other benefits also include reduced levels of stress, improves long-term memory, and spatial skills.