10 Brain exercises that boost memory

We don’t just lose muscle over time our brains can weaken, too. More specifically, your brain's cognitive reserve, its ability to withstand neurological damage due to aging and other factors without showing visible signs of slowing or memory loss reduces through the years. That can make it more difficult to perform mental tasks.

Just as weight workouts add lean muscle to your body and help you retain more muscle in your later years, researchers now believe that following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing regular, targeted brain exercises can also increase your brain's cognitive reserve.

The Healthy Brain: A Multifaceted Approach

Researchers have found that people who participate in multiple healthy behaviours significantly reduce their risk for dementia. Approaches to brain health include a well-balanced diet low in fat, low in cholesterol, and high in antioxidants. In addition to good nutrition, regular exercise can promote vascular health to help protect brain tissue.

Avoiding ruts and boredom is also critical. The brain wants to learn new things; when the brain is passive, it has a tendency to deteriorate. For this reason, sedentary and relatively passive activities, such as sitting in front of a TV for hours a day, can be detrimental to brain health over time.

10 Brain Exercises That Work

On top of a healthy diet and regular exercise, there are ways to give your brain its own workout routine. Exercises to strengthen brain function should offer novelty and challenge. The brain works through associations [which is why it's easier to memorize lyrics to a song than it is to try and remember the same words without music], so the more senses you involve the better.

Basic games like Sudoku, puzzle games and brain fitness applications are a great way to start training your brain. Comic strips (find objects different from one picture to the next) are also a fun way to improve cognitive abilities.  In addition to these games and applications, the following 10 exercises can also sharpen your mental skills:

  1. Test your recall. Make a list of grocery items, things to do, or anything else that comes to mind and memorize it. An hour later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.
  2. Let the music play. Learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. Studies show that learning something new and complex over a longer period of time is ideal for the aging mind.
  3. Do math in your head. Figure out problems without the aid of pencil, paper, or computer; you can make this more difficult and athletic by walking at the same time.
  4. Take a cooking class. Learn how to cook a new cuisine. Cooking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain.
  5. Learn a foreign language. The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain. What’s more, a rich vocabulary has been linked to a reduced risk for cognitive decline.
  6. Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try and think of any other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.
  7. Draw a map from memory. After returning home from visiting a new place, try to draw a map of the area; repeat this exercise each time you visit a new location.
  8. Challenge your taste buds. When eating, try to identify individual ingredients in your meal, including subtle herbs and spices.
  9. Refine your hand-eye abilities. Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, assembling a puzzle, etc.
  10. Learn a new sport. Start doing an athletic exercise that utilizes both mind and body, such as yoga, golf, or tennis.

You can take steps to keep your brain healthy, just as you can prevent heart disease by taking certain actions. It is important to realize that a strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain.

Have a look at these exciting puzzle games and Apps

Nelson Tethers – Puzzle Agent is an adventure/puzzle game by Telltale Games. The types of puzzles vary from jigsaw through maths to logic puzzles – all of them exercising the brain in a fun way.
Machinarium – solve a series of puzzles and brain teasers in this point and click adventure game.
Lumosity – This popular app is split into sessions of three games tailored to your goals: memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed or flexibility of thinking.
Cognifit Brain Fitness – Improve cognitive abilities, such as memory and concentration, with sleek, fun and addictive games designed by neuroscientists.

Sources:
www.everydayhealth.com
www.telltalegames.com/puzzleagent
www.amanita-design.net/games/machinarium.html
www.dailyburn.com

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