The Top 10 Brain Stimulating Exercises
The human brain is an organ that improves through mental stimulation. The brain continuously adapts, grows and rewires itself through the growth of new neurons. Brain does not decay by aging but by not using it.
Following are the top 10 Brain stimulating exercises to keep your brain always alert and young.
1. Physical Exercise :
Exercise increases your heart rate which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It even boosts the size of your Hippocampus (the part involved in your learning and memory). Exercise strengthens your cognitive abilities by reducing stress and promotes better sleep. Besides, exercise helps you to retain memory and improves your concentration.
2. Opposite Hand :
Whatever hand you use for your daily activities is a result of the dominant hemisphere of your brain. Using both the hands or just the opposite hand challenges the brain, activates and connects both the hemisphere. This further unleashes your creativity. The part of the brain responsible for your daily chores is not the same which allows you to be creative.
Studies have shown that musicians who use both hands have about a 9 percent increase in the size of their corpus callosum (the part of the brain that connects two hemisphere). Hence, using both the hands increases the transfer and promotes intelligence.
You can use your opposite hand for brushing teeth, eating food, using your mouse, buttering toast, opening jars and other similar actions.
3. Close your eyes :
Challenge your brain by doing your regular activities with eyes closed like household chores, taking shower, sorting out laundry, etc. This forces your brain to take different neural paths.
When you try to think something with closed eye, you are more likely to get a clear picture of your thoughts. Recalling is boosted when you shut your eyes. Nap is extremely beneficial to improve cognitive function,creative thinking and memory performances. It even helps your brain from recovering from burnout and overloading of information.
4. Health in Check :
High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, high LDL Cholestrol increase the risk of cognitive decline. You need to have a nutritious diet with food like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, oily fish, etc. to maintain a healthy brain.
Have food with lots of anti-oxidant. Moreover, alcohol consumption should be in moderation and one should avoid tobacco.
5. Memory Games
Brain stimulating games like Sudoku, Crossword, Jigsaw Puzzles, Rebus Puzzle, Chess, Brain Yoga, etc may improve memory and delay brain decline. There are even websites and apps to challenge your brain with stimulating games. Some of the popular apps are Lumosity, CognifitBrainFitness, Brain Trainer Special, Happify and so on.
Meditation is an active training of the mind which requires complete focus and concentration. It helps relieve anxiety and a powerful anti-depressant. It fights aging. Studies have shown that Mindfulness Meditation actually changes the structure of your brain. Meditation is found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus (governs learning and memory), and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation. It also decreases the cell volume – amygdala, (responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress). This indicates that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes your subjective perception and feelings as well.
7. Hobbies or learning something new :
Music helps with creativity, analytical skill, language, fine motor skill and much more. Successfully learning new languages enables your brain to better perform any mentally demanding tasks. This includes the typical executive skills such as planning and problem-solving. Crafting activities such as knitting, quilting and sewing may benefit the brain. Several experts support the ability of these activities to reduce anxiety and induce a calm, happy and focused state. Studies also suggest that making art such as painting, sculpting, drawing, etc. has similar positive effects on the brain. increase in the interactivity between brain regions. Reading makes several regions of the brain to work together.
8. Break the monotony :
Doing the same thing regularly puts your brain in an autopilot mode. Gradually, the brain requires less and less focus, attention and effort, making it sluggish. Hence it becomes very important to break the monotony by trying new things to keep the brain alert. Novel experience generates chemical Dopamine which improves your mood and reduces anxiety. It also establishes new connections between neurons, restoring some cells which you lose over time. Novelty stimulates creativity.
Trying new things can be as simple as taking a different route, changing the arrangements of your house, travelling solo, trying a new food – even better if you cook something new and experience the new flavor, fragrance and the taste thereby activating all your senses.
9. Care for your emotions :
The limbic brain is the part of the brain that runs your emotions.The limbic system sits under the cerebrum (the largest and newest part of the brain) and is made up of structures such as the hypothalamus, hippocampus and the amygdala.
People diagnosed with clinical depression has been reported with shrunken Hippocampus. As a result, they find it difficult to recall events. Psychologists define emotions as a combination of cognition, feelings and actions. The limbic brain also influences your biological heath such as increased heart-rate, sweating, feeling nauseated when stressed.
Hence,you must learn to save yourself from emotional injuries for proper functioning of brain. Take control of your emotions to keep your brain alert and functioning in your favor. (Read here to know how to protect yourself from getting hurt emotionally and be happy).
10. Avoid head injuries :
Brain injury usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. An object that penetrates brain tissue, such as a bullet or shattered piece of skull, also can cause traumatic brain injury. Minor injuries lead to headache, dizziness, depression, irritability, mood swings, memory problems and so on. Severe injuries has long term effects that leads to complex life problem effecting their personalities, relationship and even their ability to lead an independent life. It may even lead to Partial paralysis or Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other degenerative conditions
Events causing head injuries could be fall, vehicle collision, any kind of violence, sports injuries or explosive blasts.
Things to keep in mind :
- Always wear seat-belt while travelling.
- Always wear a helmet in an open and unrestrained vehicle.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or any drugs.
- Use proper safety equipment in sports.
- Always use an appropriate child-safety seat or a booster seat for a child.
- Do not dive in water less than 12 feet deep or in above-ground pools.
- Perform regular safety checks of sports fields, playgrounds and equipment.
Make your brain smarter and younger by inculcating the above points. Consuming the right brain food and stimulating in a right way will make you a winner in every facet of your life.