10 Ways to Exercise your Brain

by Arden Izzo
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Crossword puzzles and brain games aren’t the only ways to flex your mental muscles. If you want to sharpen your memory try some of these other brain boosting activities.

Sniff Some Rosemary

According to research from a British University, students in a rosemary scented room did 5{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} better on an exam than students in a normal room. This brain hack dates back hundreds of years, as Shakespeare even concluded, “Rosemary…that’s for remembrance.” (Source)

 

Go to Sleep!

Sleep plays a critical role in memory and learning. Although research is ongoing, scientists today hypothesize that deep, restorative sleep plays a significant role in declarative memory by processing and consolidating newly acquired information. (Source)

 

Go for a Run

Aerobic activity keeps your memory sharp by increasing your heart rate which gets blood flowing to your brain. A 2006 study shows that working out increases brain volume in regions associated with age-related decline. (Source)

 

Use Linking & Mnemonics

Using techniques like linking and mnemonics is what memory experts, like Dave Farrow, Guinness Record holder for greatest memory, do to win competitions. How did Farrow memorize the exact order of 59 decks of shuffled playing cards? He turned each card into a visual image and then linked the items together. Farrow’s method is so effective it has been proven through a double blind neuro science study at McGill University. (Source)

 

Get the News in a Different Language

Studies show that people who learn a different language, even in adulthood, have a better chance of warding off memory loss. Don’t know another language? Start with something simple like reading the news in Italian and picking up context clues from the pictures and the cognates. (Source)

 

Drive a Different Route Home

An activity like driving (no matter which route you take) helps keep your memory sharp because it requires a constant switching of attention in response to environmental contingencies. Driving a new route is even more beneficial to brain functioning though, because it is an activity out of the ordinary which forces you to pay extra close attention. (Source)

 

Try a New Food or Recipe

Stimulating your brain keeps your mental muscles on point. When you try new things, like making a new recipe for dinner, you put your brain into a unique situation that forces it to really think. (Source)

 

Smile…Chuckle…Laugh…Grin

Yes, that’s right, the secret to a better memory may be right under your nose. This is because stress plays a major role in memory and learning. A 2014 study shows that elderly people who watched a 20 minute funny video not only had a reduction in cortisol levels (the stress hormone,) they also scored better on memory tests than those who did not watch the video. (Source)

 

Read a Book on a New Topic

Any fitness expert will tell you that switching up your gym routine is best for physical health. Just as you vary your physical exercise, you should also vary your mental exercise and reading is a great way to do this. Usually go for mystery novels? Try something nonfiction. Have an affinity for reading tabloids and magazines? Try a beach read, best-seller instead. Reading requires you to process, understand, and analyze information and then store it for later recall, so it is a great way to stimulate your brain. (Source)

 

Shut off Your Phone

Your phone may be depriving your brain of much needed downtime. According to a 2010 article in the New York Times, it is important for the brain to have periods of rest (although this is often mistaken as boredom,) because this is when it solidifies information and stores memories. When the brain is constantly stimulated you prevent this learning process from happening. (Source)

Arden Izzo
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