Like every part of our bodies, our brains need exercise to remain healthy and strong. And getting brain exercise becomes even more essential as we age, as it can become harder to remember information or learn new things. However, research shows that older adults who consistently exercise their brain have less mental decline and improved reasoning and speed.
So, how do you exercise your brain?
The best brain exercises help you work on skills like memory, focus, reasoning, concentration, and thought processing speed.
To get a good brain workout, it’s important to give yourself a healthy challenge — one that is not too hard but not too easy. And, of course, it should be fun and interesting. For example:
- Try something that’s the opposite of your strengths: If you’re a dedicated reader, try a math-focused game. If you like athletic activities, explore a painting class. The goal is to prompt your brain to work in new ways.
- Try something that gets progressively harder: Tasks like learning to play an instrument or a new language continue to challenge you day after day, and build skills incrementally.
- Get social: Play games, take classes, or work on projects with your friends and family. You might schedule a regular game night or play games online with your loved ones.
Remember, once you get good at a specific task, you need to up the ante. The benefits of brain exercises decrease when the task becomes easy for you.
Offline brain training
Many familiar games and pastimes are good for your brain:
- Puzzle books: You can find puzzle books with Sudoku, logic puzzles, crosswords, or cryptograms in almost any bookstore or grocery store.
- Jigsaw puzzles: A jigsaw puzzle is an excellent way to work on memory and focus. Pick a picture that appeals to you to make it more fun.
- Traditional board games: From Trivial Pursuit and Clue to chess and Scrabble, most board games are designed to challenge your brain. And playing games with others helps you stay social, which also helps your brain.
- Find games you can play alone: Learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube, learn new ways to play solitaire, or play Boggle independently and try to beat your best score.
- Build a model: Put together a model of a ship, an airplane, or Big Ben. If you’ve never built a model before, consider starting with a Lego set—there are many kits designed with adults in mind.
Online brain training
Using your computer or smartphone, you can find more ways to keep your brain busy:
- Brain health phone apps: These apps are designed to help you train your brain! There are many options, including Lumosity, Cognifit, Elevate, and Peak. In most cases, these apps have some free games and other games available for purchase.
- The New York Times games: The New York Times has a variety of online brain teasers—such as Wordle, The New York Times Crossword, Spelling Bee, and more. The online games subscription is usually around $20 a year, but is also included with a newspaper subscription.
- Game show games: You can also challenge yourself with computer games and phone apps from your favorite TV game shows, such as Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune.
- Video games: Video games aren’t just for teenagers — they can be fun for adults, too. Ask the kids in your life for recommendations. It might even be an excellent way to connect with your favorite youngsters.
- Language learning: Want to speak a new language? You can use an app like Duolingo or Babbel. Your local library or community center may offer language classes, or you can find an online private language tutor that does lessons with you online.
- Geography challenges: Impress your friends with your knowledge of countries, capitals, bodies of water, and interesting facts from around the world. Try Seterra or Worldle to get started — they’re free and easy to use.
Our brain and body health are interconnected
Keeping your brain healthy requires keeping the rest of your body healthy, too. That means eating healthy foods and prioritizing regular movement. Your brain will thank you.
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