Four Fast Fun Daily Brain Exercises
Exercising our brain is just as important as exercising our bodies. In fact, it’s the most important muscle in our body. Yet many of us often feel that we don’t have enough spare time in our day to fit in any exercise, either physical or mental. The good news is we can fit simple brain exercises throughout our day.
When we exercise our brain, we increase our brain’s dexterity. This helps us improve concentration and focus, and speeds up our overall cognitive processing skills, making things like memory, recall, and decision-making faster. By doing one or more of these short, focused exercises every day, we can reduce stress and improve performance.
This is an exercise we can do using our base skills in any area. Run through basic addition and subtraction problems while sitting at a stoplight. Mentally do division and multiplication while cooking or taking a shower. Even the most basic mathematics will warm up our cognitive muscles, and the more we engage in this training, the faster our cognitive processing will be.
These types of drills can be done with anything. Conjugate verbs to help learn a new language. Walk through bone names and how they connect, starting with our toes and moving up through the body to practice anatomy lessons. Practice spelling. All of these will not only build on learning new information but will exercise our brain, keeping cognition flexible and fluid.
Do The Opposite
Our brain likes habits. They’re easy to maintain and save on processing power since it doesn’t require our full attention or focus to complete habitual behaviors. But that’s exactly why they aren’t great for our brain. If we let habits run our routines too often, we can lower our concentration levels, reduce our ability to focus, and slow down our cognitive skills. But an easy way to disrupt habitual behavior is to simply do the opposite.
If you use one hand predominantly over the other, make an effort to use the opposite hand at least once a day. Practice writing words, use it to brush your teeth or hair. Even using it for small tasks like stirring while cooking or turning the page as we read.
Another exercise we can do is walking backward. This one needs to be done with care, as to do this correctly, we need to still look forward. We can use a treadmill or have someone guide us in order to practice this exercise safely.
By switching hands, walking backward, or disrupting our habits in any other small way, we force our brain to kick itself out of the habit pattern and pay attention. It raises our mental awareness and triggers our brain to reevaluate completing tasks it wouldn’t normally focus on. This change in thinking helps boost concentration levels and keeps our overall mental processes limber.
Memorize & Recall
We can do this one with almost anything that we come across throughout our day. If we’re meeting new people, pick a number of things to observe and then actively recall these details multiple times throughout the day. Once we can do this exercise easily, add more details and people, sharpening our observation and recall skills.
We can also use this exercise as a way to actively repeat things people tell us. Maybe it’s learning six new names, or being able to recall three different things said in a conversation. The more we attempt to memorize and repeat throughout the day or over the course of multiple days, the stronger our memory and recall skills will become. We can make this fun by applying it to movie quotes or song lyrics.
This exercise is great not just for our mental well-being, but being a sharp observer with an ability to recall details is a marketable skill set.
Exercise The Body
What’s good for the body is good for the brain, making physical exercise an easy way to keep both in shape. When we exercise our heart rate elevates, increasing our circulation. This pumps more oxygen and nutrients into the brain, optimizing our brain functionality as a whole.
Exercise also releases a lot of hormones. These hormones elevate our mood and reduce stress. Physical exercise also releases proteins in our brain along with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). These proteins and BDNF strengthen our neuroplasticity by stimulating and supporting new neural cells and connectors throughout the brain.
In general, exercise improves our short and long-term memory, improves concentration and focus, and can spark creative thinking. Being physically active throughout the day also improves our sleep. We’re able to fall into the deeper, more restorative sleep cycles easier. This helps us get better quality sleep and we typically wake rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle our productive day.
Exercising our brain doesn’t require expensive apps or dedicated time studying. We can use people and places in our everyday environments, incorporating these exercises into mundane tasks to make them more enjoyable. All while having a positive impact on our brain.