We already know that regular physical exercise keeps us looking younger, feeling younger and keeps our mind in top working order. But what about ways we can keep our minds fit and trim as we age?
As toddlers and young children, our mothers supplied us with hours of endless play that, she would later tell us, kept us active and helped us learn and grow. She’s absolutely right; playing is an infant’s and young child’s direct link to learning and proper mental growth. Unfortunately as we grow, our world becomes smaller and what curiosities we’ve solved along our journey to adulthood are no longer paths of learning but more like a jaunt to the marketplace. There is no excitement or wonder in our daily lives.
Without the mental stimulation we obtained every day as a young child or young adult, our minds have the ability to become out of shape, or “flabby”. It’s not that we aren’t using our minds every day, but we aren’t stimulating them with new challenges; challenges that our brain relies on to keep fit, active, and working its hardest for us.
Using Neurobics to Exercise
You already know that your brain helps every bone, muscle, and nerve in your body. It tells you when you touch something hot or when you hear a noise outside. Lawrence C. Katz, a Ph.D at Duke University, developed Neurobics, a series of mental exercises that incorporate your five senses. The exercises are meant to stimulate your brain and help it build new pathways as well as strengthen cells and keep them healthy. Neurobics is your “out of the box” way of exercising your brain. For instance, one of the suggestions Katz recommends is getting dressed with your eyes closed or brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. The goal is to wake your brain up to new and interesting ways of accomplishing your routines and mundane tasks.
You’ve likely bought your children or maybe a friend’s son or daughter what are called “educational games” at some point. Each of those games foster learning and keeping the brain active. In effect, educational games help to exercise the brain by challenging it to think, use problem solving skills, and spark parts of the brain that aren’t used in routine daily tasks.
There are many games that you can play, regardless of your age. Puzzles, brain teasers, quizzes, or logic problems are all games that require the brain to engage. Besides keeping your brain active, games can help sharpen your mind and improve your focus as well as your memory. Science and research has linked memory loss to brain inactivity and not enough mental exercise. Just as you would exercise your muscles in your body; your brain, another muscle, requires exercise as well.
Exercise Your Brain Everyday
Even if you only spend 10 minutes each day, try something new in your daily routines. Read the newspaper before you take your shower, say the alphabet backwards and use entire words instead of just the letters, or take a different route to work. The simple variances in your activities will prompt your brain to kick into gear to guide you through the differences in your daily behaviours. You don’t need to make complex changes; the simplest of actions such as rearranging your living room or the books on your bookshelves will challenge your mind to think and behave differently.
The Active Mind, Young and Old
Our lives are very repetitious. We are creatures of habit and even very young children thrive on routines. In a child’s life, a routine is especially important so you must learn to urge the brain to keep learning in different ways.
Adults and children should enjoy exercising their brain. Young children will enjoy rhyming games, puzzles, mazes, and even colour by number activities or matching games. Each one of those games requires a child to remember and use critical thinking skills to map out what they should do next.
As we age though, the desire to learn dwindles and therefore we run the risk of allowing our brains to get into a sedentary lifestyle. Work and household chores can become mundane and many times we can feel as though we are going through the motions. When you begin feeling as though your brain may be turning to mush, pick up a book and read a few pages or carry a crossword puzzle book with you in your purse. Brain games can be downloaded onto your mobile phone for easy portability and many websites offer free online games where you can challenge other players around the world.
The important thing to remember when exercising your mind is that you do something different and limit the kinds of stationary, repetitive activities you participate in.
Courtesy of Female Forum.
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