Health

Exercises to sharpen your brain

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Woman in blue jeans reading book on bed top view point reading to sharpen brain

Image: Africa Studio?Shutterstock

Have you ever worried about losing your cognitive abilities when you get older? It’s a good idea to take action now to help ensure your brain is as healthy as the rest of you. While you may still be young, wild and free, here are some exercises that will sharpen your brain because, let’s face it, we could all use a little help.

Learn a new language

Language skills are learned at an early age, but that part of the brain isn’t quite as sharp by the time we reach adulthood. That’s why it’s so much easier for a child to learn a second language than it is for an adult. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You can strengthen that part of the brain by learning a new language no matter how old you are. One fun and easy method of language learning is by using the DuoLingo app for Windows, iOS or Android. This software teaches you new words using words and pictures in your choice of languages, including Hungarian, Irish and Russian.

Play brain games

Your brain loves to learn new tricks. You can easily sharpen your brain and have fun at the same time by registering with Lumosity. With the help of scientists, this company has developed a series of increasingly difficult brain games that enable you to measure your progress and skill. The tasks feel like simple games, but your brain gets sharper the more you play.

Get physical

Your brain health is closely related to your physical health. You can actually sharpen your brain by doing physical exercises that are new to you. As your brain works to figure out new muscle and skeletal movements, it will get its own brand of exercise, which will enhance your overall cognitive abilities. For best results, do something completely new instead of engaging in exercise you already know.

Become a lefty… or a righty

Many of the movements that you make in your every day life are already memorized by your brain. In fact, this is one of the energy-saving, resourceful aspects of how your brain is designed to operate. Think about it, if your brain had to figure out how to move your hand every time your head itched, you wouldn’t make much progress during the day. Instead, your brain goes on a kind of autopilot when you do repetitive actions. You can give your brain something new to figure out by switching your dominant hand. Start with a few minutes and work up to more. If you’re naturally right-handed do everything with your left hand for a set number of minutes out of each day. Brush your teeth, turn the doorknob, etc., with your left hand. As you increase the time, eventually you’ll become ambidextrous. In the process, your brain will become sharper.

Listen to music

Yes, you already know how to listen to music…or do you? You can actually improve your brain by doing this simple exercise. Sit or lie down someplace where you won’t be disturbed. Turn out the lights and listen to music—the genre doesn’t matter. As the music plays, take turns focusing in on one of the instruments. Once you have that one, focus on a different instrument. As you get better at this exercise, you’ll find that when you’re fully focused on one instrument or vocal, the others seem to fade away into the distance. Soon you’ll be able to do this little “party trick” any time you are listening to a song. In the meantime, your brain will have increased its power to listen and discern.

Just as you take care of your physical health, it’s important as you age to manage your brain health. These exercises will help ensure that your brain stays as sharp as possible for your entire life.