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Flexing Your Mental Muscles: The Power of Brain Exercises

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Flexing the muscles in your brain is just as important as working out the muscles in the rest of your body. Just as doctors tell you to exercise regularly to keep your body healthy, exercising your brain helps keep it in the best shape possible. Keeping your brain active and your mind sharp can improve your memory, increase your intelligence, and help stave off dementia. This article will examine why exercising your brain is essential and give examples of how to do it.

The Power of Exercising Your Brain

Keeping your brain sharp offers many benefits for your current and future health. Almost everything we do relies on cognitive skills, and a healthy brain is a must to perform these tasks. From remembering your to-do list to driving to reading a book, you need your brain to be up to the job. Here are some benefits of exercising your brain:

  • Boosts your working memory: This type of memory allows us to perform complex cognitive functions, like language comprehension, reading, and learning. Working memory is a type of short-term memory that allows our brains to hold information for a brief time while doing something else. Loss of short-term memory is the most common type of memory loss in dementia.
  • Improve your cognitive skills: Keeping your cognitive skills sharp and your brain healthy can help you prevent memory loss and avoid or delay different types of dementia. Studies show that for people diagnosed with dementia later in life, those who regularly exercise their brains have a shorter period of mental decline.
  • Increase processing speed: Processing speed refers to how quickly we can receive, understand, and mentally organize information. This function is critical to learning, intellectual development, and overall comprehension. The higher your processing speed, the more efficiently you can think and learn new information. An example of processing speed is completing a math assignment in an hour when it takes your classmates 30 minutes (slow processing speed) or completing a task quickly under pressure (fast processing speed).
  • Support the growth of new brain pathways: Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to learn and adapt. In other words, you can grow new brain cells and create new connections between neurons. Neuroplasticity is associated with learning new skills and can help the brain recover from traumatic events such as strokes.

Next time you think about hitting the gym, don’t forget that your brain needs exercise, too! Try some of these activities and help your brain live a long and happy life.

How to Exercise Your Mental Muscles

We’ve examined why exercising your brain is integral to your overall health plan and how it benefits all aspects of your life. Next, we’ll look at some exercises you can do to help keep your brain in tip-top shape:

  • Take Care of Your Body: Physical health is vital to mental health. Studies show that exercise can protect your brain from shrinkage associated with aging. Some studies have shown that regular exercise can stimulate new brain cells and increase oxygen intake. Physical wellness includes other healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index), and consuming less alcohol.
  • Try a new hobby or learn a skill: Learning something new gives your brain a challenge and is a fun way to pass the time. Some examples are knitting, painting, photography, or learning to play an instrument. Picking up a new skill keeps your brain stimulated and active and sharpens your cognition.
  • Be social: Yep, that’s right, head out to a happy hour or lunch with friends! Interacting with others benefits your brain in the short and long term. Being sociable and keeping company with other people is good for mental health. If you’re a fan of board games, they count as social activities.
  • Brain training games: Games such as puzzles or logic games can increase your mental flexibility and challenge your mental muscles. While more research is required about the long-term effects of these tools, there isn’t a downside to expanding your cerebral abilities. So fire up your app and get to playing! Many games can be played on mobile phones or computers. While the games help with cognitive function, being mindful of your screen time is essential.
  • Meditation: Meditation isn’t just for yoga classes. Numerous studies have shown that regular mindfulness and meditation help with increasing neuroplasticity, help slow down brain aging, and boost cognitive abilities. Meditation teaches you to slow down your thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm your body and mind. While some people think you need to completely “clear your mind,” aka tune out all your thoughts while you meditate, that is not the case. Meditation is about awareness, acknowledgment, and moving forward. Try meditation for 5 – 10 minutes, then move on to longer sessions.

About the Author: As an experienced business consultant, Arnold Rogers has advised businesses across many industries in lead generation, customer experience, service development, and small business cash flow and financial management. He has experience handling diverse industries, from fast-moving consumer goods to business-to-business hardware retailers.

rtor.org and Our Sponsor Laurel House, Inc. Celebrate Pride in June

On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay nightclub in Greenwich Village, sparking a riot and six days of protests. This incident, known as the Stonewall Uprising, marks a turning point in the gay rights movement, now celebrated as Pride Month in June.

This Pride Month, www.rtor.org and Laurel House affirm their commitment to supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community in their quest for equity and justice, especially in their fight for accessible, safe, health and mental health care.

www.rtor.org and Laurel House are committed to the advancement of racial equity and social justice, and to making mental health services available to all.

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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