5 Brain Boosters to Flex Your Mental MuscleMental Health
Lifting weights helps build muscles, but it doesn’t always help you remember where you left your wallet or what you were supposed to buy at the grocery store.
The good news is that you can train your brain to remember just as well as you can train for body for a marathon. In fact, studies show that the brain needs steady stimulation to stay sharp, and a sedentary lifestyle can cause both physical and mental decline.
“You can do things to strengthen memory -- things we’ve gotten away from,” says Sarah Mitchell, health and wellness coordinator for Lee Health. “We use electronics for phone numbers, addresses and to remember things we used to memorize. We’ve become a sedentary society. Exercise is one of the best things for the brain.”
Examples of fun, proven brain exercises include:
- Write a grocery list and try to memorize as many items as possible. Keep a scorecard on how you do and try to top your score each time. Work it into your grocery store routine. You might just be amazed at how well you do without looking at your phone.
- Have you ever tried to learn a new language or take up a new musical instrument? It’s never too late, and activating those learning centers of your brain will make you feel sharper and more energized.
- Do you normally brush your teeth with your right hand? Try using your left hand. Switch up your dominant hand when throwing or eating -- or even changing the channel on the television -- and you’ll find yourself concentrating extra hard to complete the task. It might even be good for a laugh.
- Just eat a big meal? Try to identify each ingredient in your main dish and then double-checking that with the recipe to see which food items or spices you got right.
- Download a brain games app. There are some for math, spelling, riddles, and other games to help people of all ages better retain information.
- Take part in a trivia night! Besides the brain exercise, the social stimulation helps, too.
“We all need this type of mental exercise,” Mitchell says. “And it goes along with physical activity. When people sit for a long time, their brains get lazy. We think about training our bodies from the neck down, but we also need to train our bodies from the neck up.”
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