Just like physical exercise changes your body, mental exercise creates positive changes in the makeup of your brain.
It’s never too late to implement brain-boosting daily habits to improve your thinking, concentration and memory. You can get started today with these four simple techniques.
Challenge Yourself with Brain Games
Games that involve using words, working with numbers or solving puzzles challenge your brain in new ways each day. Thanks to the Internet and apps for mobile devices, you can play these games anywhere. Spending even just a few minutes on these types of activities as you wait in lines or at the doctor’s office can give your brain power a boost. The effectiveness of this kind of
The effectiveness of this kind of brain training games is still a controversial topic for the scientific community. What is certain is that, according to several studies and articles, regular mental stimulation brings a lot of benefits: for example, people who engage in regular mental stimulation are less likely to develop forms of dementia.
Treat Your Body Right
A healthy brain requires a healthy body nurtured by smart daily habits such as:
• Sleeping for seven to eight hours per night
• Avoiding added sugars, excess salt and saturated fats
• Focusing on fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes
• Engaging in regular physical exercise
This combination keeps you sharp by reducing mental fatigue, providing vital nutrients and increasing blood flow. Proper diet minimizes the risk of plaques forming inside the small blood vessels in your brain. Physical exercise has been shown to increase a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which encourages the formation of new neurons while preserving the ones you already have.
Stay Connected with Others
Studies have shown socializing in person or on the phone improves brain function, so step away from social media and make time for real interaction with family and friends. Take the time to slow down and really listen to what others are saying. This can improve your ability to pay attention and allows you to fully understand what’s being communicated. By cultivating deeper relationships, you’ll preserve brain function and support a better feeling of well-being.
Expand Your Horizons
As you seek to train your brain, go beyond games and challenge yourself with a whole new experience. Take up a hobby, learn another language, try a new sport or travel to a place you’ve never been. Continuously doing new things affects the “neural plasticity” of your brain, which refers to the number of connections that exist between neurons, the effects of those connections and the length of time that they last. Every time you learn something, you create new connections, and the more connections you can maintain, the easier it will be to retain new information in the future.
Presenting your brain with regular challenges and giving it the fuel it needs to stay healthy can help improve its function and decrease the likelihood of cognitive decline. Stick to brain-boosting daily habits and make mental exercise a priority every day to ensure that you’re constantly creating and strengthening new mental pathways.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marco Vertucci studied cognitive sciences at the University of Bologna, Italy where he was awarded a Master Degree with Honours in 2012. He has always been fascinated by the psychology of learning and how to improve mental performance. He is currently working as a freelance writer for several psychology-related blogs as well as research supporter for NeuroNation.com, a web-based company active in the field of interactive brain exercises.
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