How vital are brain exercises? What kind of benefits does it provide us? Is brain training efficient? Should I invest time into brain exercises, or should I take care of my body instead?
Brain training programs have become extremely popular over the last decade. Thanks to technological advancement, these programs offer incredible convenience and accessibility to everyone. These games provide cognitive benefits such as improved memory, attention span, learning ability, creativity, problem-solving skills, etc.
However, some of them might also cause harmful side effects. For example, some players reported dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, insomnia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and even heart palpitations after playing particular games. Some studies even suggested that specific brain training programs could increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
This article will tell you everything about brain exercises. We’ll discuss their effectiveness and some brain exercises, so readers can decide when choosing a program for themselves.
What are Brain Exercises?
Let’s start with what they are. Brain exercises are activities that exercise your mind and help improve your cognitive abilities like memory, focus, concentration, reasoning, planning, vocabulary, etc. It involves doing mental tasks outside of regular day-to-day duties.
Some may think that brain exercises only target specific brain parts, but this isn’t always true. Many different areas inside the human brain affect each other; thus, there are many ways to simultaneously stimulate all aspects of the brain.
Why Do You Need To Exercise Your Brain?
We need to keep our brains healthy, and if we neglect our well-being, it will be harder for our brains to perform optimally.
Studies show that a decline in cognitive function begins around age 30. This means that if you don’t do something now to avoid it, you’ll experience less sharpness during midlife and beyond. The good news is that there are things you can do about it.
For instance, regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure and strengthens muscles, bones, joints, and tendons. Not only that, but it increases metabolic rate, improves circulation, and boosts overall energy levels. All these benefits contribute toward keeping our brains young.
Another reason you need to exercise your brain is that it dramatically impacts how you feel mentally and emotionally.
If you want to improve your emotional state, it makes sense to include brain training routines in your daily routine.
The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
The benefits of exercise are many, but the most important one is that it can help you to improve your overall mental health. It helps us to be more productive at work, improves our moods, reduces stress levels, and even increases our self-esteem.
Exercise has been proven to increase brain activity in areas such as the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory), the prefrontal cortex (responsible for decision making), and the cerebellum (which controls balance).
It also helps to reduce anxiety and depression by increasing serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is essential in regulating emotions and feelings.
Exercise also helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance. These factors have all been linked with an increased risk of dementia.
In addition, exercise has been shown to boost cognitive function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
How Brain Exercises Promotes Positive Well-Being
The brain has two main parts, one for thinking and reasoning, the other for decision making. When our brains engage in tasks such as learning new languages or solving complex puzzles, we activate the part responsible for thinking while simultaneously using the other half of the brain to decide what action to perform. This way, our minds use both sides of the brain at once. As a result, when we exercise our brains, we engage all of them at once, which helps us develop various mental skills.
As mentioned earlier, we need to keep our brains active every day. However, most of us only think about exercising our brains after we’ve been busy doing physical activities like running errands, playing sports, and cleaning the house. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time left to think about our brains because we’re exhausted.
We recommend starting with a few simple brain exercises and gradually building up to more challenging ones. These are the easiest and least expensive ways to train your brain:
1. Reading Books
Reading books activates different regions of the brain. Combining reading words and visual images engages our whole brain and help strengthen memory, concentration, and verbal fluency. Studies show that reading improves memory, attention, and logical reasoning. Reading also boosts creativity, expands vocabulary, increases empathy, lowers stress levels, and provides emotional support.
2. Playing Games
Playing games is another effective way to exercise your brain. Chess, Sudoku, crosswords, Scrabble, and word search puzzles – are just a few games that boost cognitive abilities. Not only does playing games help your mind stay sharp and focused and releases endorphins into your system, which improve mood, relieve stress, reduce pain, promote sleep, and make you happier.
3. Taking Classes
Learning new things gives your brain a workout. Whether it be language lessons or any other type of coursework, taking classes keeps your brain active and challenges your ability to learn. While the course may seem intimidating at first, as long as supportive friends surround you, you’ll find it to be an enjoyable experience.
4. Doing Crossword Puzzles
Doing crossword puzzles requires your brain to solve problems and utilize logic. It can be done anywhere, anytime, and can stimulate your memory and concentration. Most people who do crossword puzzles report feeling relaxed and happy afterward.
5. Drawing Pictures
Drawing pictures and sketches require your brain to visualize objects and scenarios. Some people even say that drawing makes them feel smarter! Since this involves writing down your ideas, you will have to practice many times before getting better. If you want to improve your artistic skill, buy a sketchbook, colored pencils, and some art supplies. You can start small by coloring simple drawings and mastering basic shapes. To maintain focus, try doing quick sketches during boring meetings.
6. Learning Languages
To become fluent in multiple languages, you must constantly re-learn the basics. In other words, if you had learned Spanish grammar ten years ago, you would now have to start from scratch. One way to avoid this problem is to take language courses online. They let you study whenever and wherever you want, so you don’t have to worry about going out of town for school sessions. If you aren’t sure where to begin, look through the internet for language learning tutorials.
7. Learning How to Play Instruments
Playing instruments lets, you release tension and anxiety and provides an excellent opportunity to sing and dance. For those with no talent, tons of books are available to quickly teach you how to play specific instruments. Once you decide which instrument you want to learn, you can visit websites such as YouTube or iTunes for free lessons. These programs allow you to download audio files that provide step-by-step instructions.
Meditation has been around since ancient cultures first realized its benefits. Today, meditation is practiced by millions worldwide due to its ability to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and combat depression. It allows us to connect with ourselves, improving concentration and memory while promoting well-being.
The key to meditating successfully? Practice patience. As soon as you think you know what you should be focusing on, stop thinking. Instead, watch your thoughts float across your mind and acknowledge them without judgment, noting “this thought came into my head…” and then replace it with another thought.
Writing allows you to share your thoughts and feelings with others and strengthens your brainpower and reasoning skills. There are many types of writing, including letters, journals, novels, etc. Whether you write short notes to friends or lengthy articles for publication, writing offers a creative, intellectual challenge.
10. Relaxing at Home
The best way to relax is by simply closing your eyes and taking deep breaths. However, this often requires quiet surroundings where there aren’t distractions. To make relaxation easier, try listening to soothing music, reading, or conversing with someone close to you.
Walking is an easy and accessible activity that everyone can do. Walk around the neighborhood, park, or mall. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like walking for – five blocks are enough to stimulate your brain, increase circulation and burn calories.
12. Listen To Music
Listening to music stimulates many areas of the brain all at once. It increases your focus during studying and work, improves social interactions, combats loneliness, relieves depression and anxiety, reduces pain, burns fat, and even makes you smarter.
Brain Exercise – A Simple Mental Gymnastic
The benefits of brain exercise go beyond its ability to reduce stress and improve mood. Many studies are showing that brain activity increases during meditation. Researchers believe people meditate because their brains get bored and start exercising.
So if you’re looking to boost mindfulness levels, brain games could help. Here are ten extra brain activities guaranteed to keep your mind active.
1) Sudoku puzzles
2) Crossword puzzles
3) Word searches
4) Picture memory games
5) Brain teasers
6) Puzzle boxes
7) Memory games
8) Trivia quizzes
9) Card games
10) Jigsaw puzzles
Please comment below if you have suggestions about other ways to increase brain power.