Exercise Isn’t Just for Your Body – Why You Should Train Your Brain with Fun Mental Workouts
We all know the importance of physical fitness, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy body. But how often do we consider the fitness of our minds? Just like our bodies, our minds also need regular exercise, training, and stimulation to stay healthy, agile, and strong throughout our lifetime.
Mental fitness is crucial since it impacts every aspect of our lives. From our academic and professional performance to our relationships, personal growth, and overall well-being, our minds play a critical role. Unfortunately, as we age, our cognitive abilities tend to decline, and we start noticing lapses in memory, problem-solving, and attention to detail.
However, there’s good news. Research suggests that cognitive training and brain exercises have profound short- and long-term benefits, including improved memory, reduced stress, better work performance, and delayed cognitive decline. Therefore, it’s essential to make cognitive training a part of our daily routine just as we do physical exercise.
The Skinny on Mental Workouts
Physical fitness boosts our stamina and increases muscular strength. Similarly, regular cognitive exercise can enhance cognitive functions such as memory, attention, focus, and problem-solving. Research shows that just a few cognitive workouts per week can make a significant difference in our mental health and well-being.
According to a study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, ten one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94. Another study found that after eight weeks of cognitive training, students showed a larger and more active hippocampus, the area of our brain responsible for learning and memory, than their peers.
Indeed, what’s essential in cognitive workouts is making them easy and fun, just like physical exercise. This way, it’s easier to stick with them and make them an integral part of our daily routine.
Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone
Here are some fun, easy-to-do mental exercises that can help strengthen your brain, improve cognitive abilities, and have fun at the same time.
One of the easiest, simplest ways to engage your brain is by coming up with solutions to existing challenges. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, ask a partner or friend to ideate with you.
Dancing is a physical workout, but the coordination required is excellent for training your brain. Studies suggest that dance boosts cognitive skills such as planning, organizing, memorizing, and creativity.
3. Learning a New Language
Learning a new language takes time, but with daily lessons, it can be easier than you might think. Choose a language-learning tool that aligns with your specific learning style to help you remember better.
4. Developing a Hobby
Hobbies such as woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting can help train attention to detail and memory. Physical activities can double as fun mental workouts that require motor control skills.
5. Board Games
Playing board games such as Risk or Settlers of Catan can help build problem-solving skills. They also make for a fun mental workout that’s not physically tiring.
6. Card Games
Card games are similar to board games in that they help train cognitive skills such as reasoning, planning, and problem-solving.
Puzzles are great for stimulating cognitive abilities such as visuospatial function, which is crucial in people struggling with cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
8. Playing Music
Playing music helps develop cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, and motor control. Learning an instrument requires patience and discipline but is an enjoyable mental workout.
Meditation is an effective way to help focus and train your mind to better regulate your thoughts and emotions.
10. Deep Conversation
Thoughtful, authentic conversations help train your brain to think more deeply, challenge your ideas without being confrontational, and develop empathy.
Cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills such as attention to detail, memory, problem-solving, and motor control.
Mentorship helps in combining the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Learning from someone you look up to and teaching someone else to help put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.
Boosting mental fitness is as crucial for our overall well-being and quality of life as physical exercise. The good news is that cognitive training and exercises can quickly become fun and engaging when done regularly. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym or break the bank to achieve cognitive fitness. Engage in fun activities and daily mental workouts so that you can reap long-term benefits, such as improved work performance, reduced stress levels, and delayed cognitive decline.