Have you ever noticed you don’t feel quite as mentally sharp when you do the same mundane things day in and day out? This is actually physically true. If you use your brain for new tasks, it gets sharper.
Our brains have an ability to actually change structure and physiology in response to new stimuli and challenges. To give your mind this kind of food for growth, try some of the suggestions below.
1. Play mental games. Crosswords, brain teasers, mazes, Sudoku, and other puzzles are all effective ways to challenge your mind. So try something new and really give your brain a workout. Even the occasional video game has something to offer.
• These are especially good if they’re new experiences for you. Someone just beginning crossword puzzles is going to experience more improvement in mental fitness than someone that has been doing them for years.
2. Exercise regularly. Moving your body during exercise accomplishes many things:
- • The brain is forced to send stronger impulses to your muscles when moving vigorously or against resistance.
- • The coordination required and the use of muscles not normally used both challenge the brain.
- • The flow of blood and nutrients through the brain is increased.
3. Play music. Learning a new musical instrument is a great way to challenge your mental fitness. This is particularly true for someone who has never played a musical instrument.
• Learning musical theory is like learning a new language. Not only is music an enjoyable way to spend free time, but it’s also great for your brain. Now might be the perfect time to pull out the phone book and look into piano or violin lessons.
4. Meditate your way to mental fitness. Meditation challenges your brain by creating a new mental state. It’s relaxing, plus it teaches your mind the ability to focus, which is a huge task for many of us. Meditation is a great way to improve mental fitness.
5. Read something new every day. Reading is a complicated mental process that requires processing information quickly. Try reading something new that interests you. You’ll get the added benefit of novelty, enhance your brain function, and learn something as well.
6. Challenge your memory. Each day, take a minute and try to remember the previous day. What did you have for lunch? What happened at work? Try to remember what you did last weekend. What happened last Christmas?
• Make a list of 10 items and then see if you can remember them without cheating! Part of the memory loss sometimes associated with aging is due to not using our powers of recollection on a regular basis.
7. Watch less television. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel in every way if you watch less TV. You can do so many things to improve your mind and body that you’ll never get around to if you’re watching too much TV. They don’t call it the idiot box for nothing.
Your mental fitness doesn’t have to decline dramatically as you age. The key is to expose yourself to new and challenging experiences on a regular basis. So break up your routine and try something new.
Doing something new that makes you really think is even better. Turn off the TV and work on a crossword puzzle. Take up the guitar. Try a physical activity that’s new to you. There are lots of ways to improve your mental fitness. You can get started today!