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Brain Exercises: Natural Ways to Stay Mentally Fit

Even if you struggle to find the motivation to go to the gym on a regular basis, you probably understand why exercise is so important for your body. But just as your body benefits from physical exercise, your brain benefits from mental exercise as well. And just as sitting still all day is bad for your body, not challenging your mind can also have devastating long-term effects.

Photo credit: A Health Blog via Flickr

Photo credit: A Health Blog via Flickr

Here are some ways to stay mentally fit at any age and prevent deterioration, memory loss, and complacency.

Work on Puzzles

Probably the most tried-and-true form of brain exercise is the puzzle. Puzzles take on many forms, including jigsaws, crosswords, word finds, and even apps on your smartphone. Puzzles have a unique way of stimulating the brain and helping us utilize logic, retain facts, and remember details.

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Photo credit: Philippa Willitts via Flickr

Play Strategy Games

Strategy games also challenge the mind to think outside-the-box and outside the scope of our daily routines. The best part about strategy games is that they’re often interactive and really fun to play as well.

There are lots of board games and card games that require strategy and planning. Multi-player games also encourage collaboration and healthy competition to stimulate the mind even further.

Practice Neurobic Exercises

You might not be too familiar with neurobics yet, but scientific research suggests a simple exercise program that may help fight the effects of mental aging. Rather than sitting down with a pen and paper to do puzzles, neurobic exercises can be done anywhere in fun and easy ways.

Close your eyes while performing a routine task to let your other senses lead the way. The goal is use more than one of your senses at a time to break routine habits and activate all of your senses to stimulate your brain.

Here are some other examples of neurobic exercises that you can practice almost anywhere.

  • Eat with your non-dominant hand
  • Close your eyes while taking a shower or sorting laundry
  • Wear your watch upside down
  • Take a new route to familiar destinations

Pick Up a New Hobby

There’s a saying that that goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While this may be true for some stubborn canines, it doesn’t have to be true for you.

By seeking new and novel experiences on a regular basis, you can stimulate your brain to think creatively and never stop learning. Consider learning a new craft, such as sewing, crocheting, or woodworking. Or sign up for music lessons to learn that instrument that you always wanted to play as a kid. Learning a new language can challenge your brain and also be an asset when you travel or need to communicate in unfamiliar settings.

Meditate and Relax

However, not all brain exercises have to feature a flurry of activity. A stressed-out and cluttered mind is not a healthy mind, which is why relaxation techniques are so important. Practice simple meditation for a few minutes each day to clear your mind of the clutter and help you focus on just one thing at a time.

Photo credit: Maria via Flickr

Photo credit: Maria via Flickr

Eat a Brain-Healthy Diet

Another great way to keep your mind sharp while barely lifting a finger is to get more omega-3s in your diet. Countless studies have proven that omega-3 fatty acids have significant brain benefits, and cold water fatty fish are the best sources of them. Salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and herring are all great sources of omega-3s.

And if you aren’t getting enough omega-3s by eating fish, consider supplementing your diet with Omega-3 Fish Liver Oil or Omega-3 Shark Liver Oil.

In addition to omega-3s, these are some other brain-boosting foods to munch on before and after completing your mental exercises for the day.

  • Flaxseed
  • Kidney and pinto beans
  • Winter squash
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Soybeans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Green tea
  • Grape juice
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