If you want bigger biceps, do curls. If you want a flatter stomach, do a plank. If you want a stronger brain… try a… well… maybe do some…
We all know 25 varieties on crunches but how do you exercise your brain? With all the emphasis we put on changing our bodies with physical exercise, the time has come to work on increasing our mental fitness too. If you could exercise for one day and see results, gyms would be a madhouse. It would completely change the way you approach physical activity if you didn’t have to wait weeks or months to see a difference. Great news, there are exercises for your brain you can do right now and feel the effects within an hour. If only six-packs worked that way… These are easy changes you can make today that will not only strengthen your brain but also enrich your life!
Read on for simple but effective ways to increase your brain power and ignite your productivity.
Exercise #1: Exercise!
So what is the equivalent of running a mile for your brain? The answer to that is, running a mile. It seems like a trick, doesn’t it? The indisputable, number one way to increase your brain power, clarity, and mood is aerobic exercise.
If you feel like a good workout is all you need to clear your head, you are absolutely correct. In a TEDTalk from Feb. 2018, neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki described the revolutionary power a single workout can have on your brain. (Listen here.) In as little as ten minutes of aerobic activity, you increase levels of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. In addition to providing an immediate mood boost, these hormones also enhance your ability to learn faster, focus more, and increase reaction time and memory.
Elevating your heart rate also means an increase in oxygen-rich red blood cells being pumped to the brain. More oxygen and blood flow can literally clear the cobwebs and provide more energy for optimal brain function.
Exercise #2: Shake up your routine
Routine is the enemy of creativity. Run by the subconscious, our routines require very little brain activity and effort. Breaking up the monotony of your day will engage new parts of your brain, thus boosting your power. Simple switches like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, driving a new way to work, or trying now food dishes work as mini exercises to keep your brain healthier and working hard.
Exercise #3: Keep your phone out of it
Smartphones and the unparalleled access to the world they provide has changed the way we work, converse, and solve problems, but it has also changed our brains. We no longer have to memorize things, and while this provides convenience, it affects our short-term memory and critical thinking skills. Use it or lose it applies to the brain as well. To keep yourself mentally sharp, try relying more on your memories and less on Google. Draw a map of your neighborhood, do math in your head instead of with a calculator, or try to notice new things about your surroundings and people you know.
Exercise #4: Aprende un nuevo lenguaje • Impari una nuova lingua • Học một ngôn ngữ mới
Bilingual people don’t just seem smarter, they actually are. Studies show that learning a second language can boost cognitive function, concentration, overall intelligence and even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Multiple areas of the brain have to work together making it like the burpees of mental exercises! Talking, reading, writing and comprehending another language will impact your life professionally, socially, and culturally. Engaging in a conversation on its own is a good workout but doing it in another language can really help strengthen and grow your brain.
Exercise #5: What has nine letters and improves memory?
Crossword! Word or logic games like crossword puzzles and sudoku stimulate the brain, keep you mentally active, aid concentration, lower the risk for brain-related diseases, and help your mood! Distraction at work is inevitable but instead of reaching for your phone or online shopping, try one of these games. Strategy games like sudoku make you weigh different options and think ahead, which leads to greater engagement and less urges to give up. Unplug even further by going for an actual printed version; pen and paper like your ancestors used. These breaks offer a reward and sense of accomplishment instead of just wasting time.
Never let the need to learn new skills or better yourself take a back seat to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Complacency is the enemy of progress and success, especially in regard to your brain. You don’t need to be a psychologist or neurosurgeon to want to improve how your brain functions. Scientists have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding this miraculous organ, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use what we do know to take better care of it. Brain exercises are an easy way to boost your mind’s power, increase your productivity, and reduce the risk of Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Start right now and reap the benefits immediately!
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