In many ways the mind is a like a muscle that must be exercised in order to stay sharp. As we age, our mental faculties are among the first things to go. This is because it is less likely that older people are engaging in activities that stretch the mind and force it to really get a good workout on a daily basis.
While children and young adults have things like school and work to keep their mind’s sharp, older adults may find themselves with a lot of time on their hands for leisure activities, such as, watching television and sleeping.
Though there is nothing wrong with leisure time, it should be balanced with activities and mental exercises designed to work out the muscle of your mind to ensure it stays strong and sharp as you age.
Why It’s Important
Have you noticed that if you do not practice certain activities, you no longer know how to do them? Perhaps you noticed this when you took a math class after a long summer and concepts you once mastered were suddenly difficult or you arrived at your next musical lesson without bothering to practice and found your were tripping over your scales.
While some people can get away with this thanks to natural talent, the rest of us must actively exercise our minds in order to improve memory, cognitive performance, mental retention, and even understanding.
If you neglect to do different activities that will help keep you mind sharp, you may find yourself struggling as you get older with simple things, such as spelling, addition and subtraction, and even remembering names of people you have just met. Avoid these embarrassing blunders by simply engaging in some mental exercises daily.
7 Fun Activities & Mental Exercises to Keep Your Mind Sharp
Luckily, there are a number of ways to exercise your mind that are effective, safe, and fun. If you find something that isn’t really working for you, there are a number of other activities to choose from.
Check out the following activities and mental exercises that will keep your mind strong:
- Exercise – Whether you’re going for a jog, playing basketball, or taking a swim, regular physical exercise can help improve your memory, motor skills, and other important mental faculties. Exercise pumps oxygen to the brain, helping it work better and feel more alert. Having a regular workout routine is a great way to ensure that your mind will stay sharp as you get older.
- Eat a Healthy Diet – Your brain needs food to give you energy, so feed it the right stuff. If you give your brain too much or too little energy, it could mess with your delicate cognitive balance. A low glycemic diet is one that includes moderate amounts of fat and protein, which, are broken down at a slower pace, giving the body energy gradually so that it lasts longer and ensures the long-term health and performance of your mind.
- Conversation – Talking is one of the simplest and most effective ways to get a mental workout. When you have a conversation with someone, you’re engaging your mind, memory, and motor skills all at once. This is also an effective way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive problems that can arise as you age.
- Brain Games – Online brain games can be found everywhere these days. There are websites dedicated to them, apps for them, and many other places where they can be found. These games are designed to test cognitive functions such as memory, attention, comprehension, alertness, and more. Signing up for a brain games site or simply finding a new one every day can give your mind a fun workout whenever and wherever you want.
- Videogames – Videogames are known for developing great hand-eye coordination, but they go much deeper than this. Most videogames require heightened focus and attention, actively exercising the mind as you play. By simply playing videogames a few times throughout the month, you can increase control over motor skills and improve focus, problem solving, and memory. Grab a game and go!
- Puzzles – Some of the oldest forms of mental exercise are puzzles. This tried and true past time is a great way to bring people together while giving their brains a workout as well. Puzzles are also a nice way to gradually work towards more and more difficult goals. You can start with smaller puzzles and make you way up to larger, more complicated ones. Like a standard math problem, mental exercise builds upon itself, so puzzles are a great way to always improve your mental faculties.
- Learn Something New – Learning new skills keep your mind strong and young because it helps it to create new connections as you learn. Taking up an instrument, a sport, or even a new hobby is an effective way to exercise your mind while also improving yourself as an individual. You’re never too old to learn something new, so look into classes and other outlets to get started.