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Brain Training: Fitness for Your Brain

by Cindy Gray

Like your muscles, the brain needs regular exercise or training to stay strong and functioning normally. Brain exercises or brain training can boost cognitive function and is especially important as we age. 

Brain Training: Fitness for Your Brain

Don’t Lose Your Mind

Move it or lose it is a phrase that applies to your brain as well as your body.  Studies show that certain good-old fashion common sense when it comes to diet, exercise and lifestyle are the key to keeping your brain healthy. 

Not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and getting plenty of sleep are important, but so is regular physical activity that boosts circulation and blood flow to the brain.

There are several non-physical ways that also exercise your brain to keep it fit.  As it turns out, some specially designed computerized cognitive training is not particularly helpful in improving your cognitive abilities. So what is?  Real world activities!

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Novelty

When it comes to your brain’s physical fitness, change is good.  Challenging your brain regularly with something new has great benefits. It doesn’t have to be complex like solving a math algorithm either. Simply taking a new route home from the office, brushing your teeth or hair with your non-dominant hand or memorizing the lyrics to a new song can keep your noggin in tip top shape.

Real Challenges

To really boost your brain power, you can do simple challenges to going all out like learning a new language or taking up a new sport like golf, tennis or Karate. 

Other great ideas for brain fitness are:

  • Try to recall your grocery list an hour after you get home from the store.
  • Listen to music, or better yet, play it. Take piano or guitar lessons.
  • Balance your checkbook in your head.  Math is a strenuous brain workout when you don’t have pen and paper or a calculator.
  • Take a cooking class to create new or foreign cuisine. Cooking involves the five senses; smell, touch, sight and taste, all of which engage your brain in a meaningful way.
  • Take up a new hobby that demands good hand-eye skills like knitting or sewing, puzzles, drawing or painting.

You can exercise your brain regularly most anywhere. At the office make a conscious effort to block distractions and stay focused on one particular task until it’s complete.  The more you practice the better you will get at it. 

Just like your muscles, though, after a hard workout your brain needs time to recover.  Getting a good night’s sleep every night is one way to keep your mental faculties strong. Also, it’s not a bad idea to indulge in some mindless TV viewing once in awhile, especially watching something that makes you laugh. Meditation can also be very beneficial for letting your brain relax and rejuvenate.

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