We hear it all the time – that exercising your brain helps keep it sharp and fend off cognitive decline. Since you can’t just give your brain a pair of running shoes and tell it to lace up, though, what are some simple things you can do to keep your brain active?
1. Read as much as possible
We’re not talking Shakespeare or philosophy journals, here. You don’t need to analyze academic literature to give your brain the benefits of reading. Try any newspaper, magazine, book, or blog to give your brain a workout.
2. Expand your vocabulary
Try to learn a new word every day. You can download the Magoosh Vocabulary Builder app on your cell phone or sign up for a service to have words-of-the-day sent directly to your email inbox.
3. Pick up a puzzle
Sudoku, crossword puzzles, or even real puzzles that come in a box – all of these are great brain-boosting activities. You can easily add them to your morning coffee or breakfast routine.
4. Engage in discussions
Invite a friend or two out for coffee and some lively discussion. Talking about things like politics and current events can be a challenging workout for your brain.
5. Take advantage of free online classes or talks
We know that most of you spend enough time in class, but you can always pick up new skills and knowledge from Khan Academy or TED Talks.
6. Learn the art of DIY
Of course, it’s easier to call someone up from your phonebook when a household appliance stops working, but learning how to do simple DIY fixes through YouTube and other online resources will make you think and get creative.
7. Find a new hobby
Finding a hobby that matches your interests is always rewarding, but as an added bonus, many of them (like music and art) also exercise different parts of your brain.
8. Ditch the calculator
If you’re doing simple math (like adding up totals at the grocery store), avoid using your cell phone calculator and do some quick mental math. Math is something that’s easily forgotten when not used frequently.
9. Watch educational or complex television programs
TV doesn’t have to turn your brain to mush. Choose shows with an educational component, or watch programs with complex characters and plot lines. Put your brain to work while you watch TV and anticipate what will happen next in the show.
10. Try a Rubik’s cube
A Rubik’s cube will require you to exercise your motor skills and put together visual sequences. Start out untimed – after you get familiar with the patterns, you can use a timer to track your progress!
About the Author:
Catherine supports Magoosh’s future grad school students by unlocking tricks of the test prep and application trade. Catherine spends her free time checking out local farmer’s markets, reading food and lifestyle blogs, and watching Bravo. She is forever in search of the best Mexican and Italian food in any given city.
1 – Photo of television remote courtesy of Flickr user flash.pro under Creative Commons License 2.0.