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Brain Exercises to Keep your Mind Sharp

Updated on October 21, 2011

You have probably already heard that brain exercises help to keep the mind sharp as you age, but no matter what your age, you begin to take some positive steps. The wonderful thing about exercising the brain is that anyone can do it. The principle that applies to muscles also applies to the brain: Use it or lose it.

Algebra builds the brain
Algebra builds the brain

Algebra is Brain Exercise

I first became interested in the concept behind exercising the brain when my daughter was struggling with algebra. “Give me one good reason I have to learn algebra! Just one!”

She had no plans to become a scientist, mathematician, builder, or go into any other technical career and to be truthful, I’ve never used complex algebra for any real world application.

I researched it and found a reason. Apparently, the practice of deciding on a formula for a given problem and going through the steps actually builds new connections in the brain and helps you learn new concepts throughout life. (See Reference 1)

“Learn it because it makes your brain grow and will help you learn in the future”.

Of course she wasn’t as excited about it as I was, but I offered the same explanation to my son. No matter how much they complained, at least they could not complain that it was pointless.

Admittedly, I have been known to drive them crazy when I stop and ask questions about situations, events and concepts. Instilling empathy and reason has always been important to me. I didn’t think of it as brain exercise, I just wanted them to expand their thinking (the same thing, but in different terms). According to the men who coined the term “neurobics”, I was blessing them with a mental workout. Who knew?

Neurobics – Exercises for the Brain

The principles behind Lawrence Katz and Manning Rubin’s book “Keep Your Brain Alive” are involved in using the senses differently, focused attention, and changing the normal routine, even for a short period of time. Some of the ideas may seem silly, but it is easy to see how doing them challenges the mind. This book goes beyond the typical “do crosswords or other types of puzzles” recommendation.

Five Neurobic Exercises: A Handful of Ideas From the Book

  1. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
  2. Turn off the lights in your house at night and navigate your way through using your memory, sense of touch, sound, and even smell.
  3. Respond to a situation or challenge differently than normal.
  4. Visit places you have never been before.
  5. Mute the television and make up your own dialogue. Not only does this exercise the brain, it may even exercise your funny bone.

Physical Exercise and the Brain

For several years now, I have heard that physical exercise can ease stress and alleviate the symptoms of depression. The latest research shows that mood is not the only change that takes place in the mind when a person exercises. Working out stimulates the brain as well as the body. It makes sense when you recognize the mind and body connection.

According to a study done by the University of California in San Francisco, exercising greatly decreases cognitive decline. (See Reference 2)

For best results, exercise every day and challenge yourself to do more each time.

 

Meditation is Good Brain Exercise


Meditation is not easy. In fact, the very act of suppressing thought and concentrating on one particular thing such as breathing, a mantra, or an object demands that the meditator take complete control of his or her brain.

Buddhist monks took part in a long term study involving meditation, brain wave measurements, and images of the brain. Their insistence that meditation helps increase cognitive functioning was confirmed through scientific means. (See Reference 3)

Those who make meditation a part of their daily routine will experience an increase in cognitive function over the long term.

If you have never meditated or have experienced difficulty that caused you to give up on the practice, don’t let the challenge keep you down. Start slow. Even if you are able to hold your concentration for a minute, you have already accomplished something. Practice and challenge yourself to meditate longer each and every day.

Brain Exercises - Start Today

Brain exercises can help keep the mind sharp through the senior years, but no matter your age, there is no time like the present to begin exercising the brain.

Use it or lose it.

I’m off to meditate.

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    • profile image

      carmelohannity 5 years ago

      I found some really awesome math software at http://www.mathmadeeasy.com.

      it was reasonably priced and it helped my 5th grader immensely. i would highly recommend these dvds.

    • sammythrone profile image

      sammythrone 5 years ago from North America/South America/Europe/Asia

      @SEO IT!

      Like they always say, if you don't use it, then you lose it. With so many memory aids, our ability to "remember" actually decrease. My mom is 60 over but she has better memory than me. Can you believe it?

    • Fuller-Life profile image

      Fuller-Life 5 years ago from Washington, DC

      This is a very good and useful hub. Thanks for making it easy for us to do something about making our lives better and fuller. I should admit there are times that I just haven't taken the time to exercise even when I need. Shame on me, but thanks to you. I am getting back to being fit and smart.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Awesome Hub! Excellent way to personalize doing math! Very good to read-I haven't stopped by in a while but glad I just did!

      Thanks!

      JSMatthew~

    • dablufox profile image

      dablufox 6 years ago from Australia

      Some really cool information, I knew all this was important but now I have a better appreciation of just how important exercising your brain is, thanks for the great insight, this is one very well written hub!

    • john27 profile image

      john27 6 years ago

      fantastic hubpage in formation

      for the brain, this can be profitable

      to follow and gain a sharper mind nice

      work!!!

    • D.Virtual.Doctor profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 6 years ago from Europe

      This is such an awesome hub. Very contemporary and indeed breath- taking. I am so privileged to read this hub because I am duly informed and educated. Hoping to read more of such hubs from you. Cheers!

      D.Virtual.Doctor

    • electricsky profile image

      electricsky 7 years ago from North Georgia

      Thank you for sharing your tips on exercising the brain as one ages. I like your book recommendations and maybe I will take a look at one of them.

    • juncolt profile image

      juncolt 7 years ago from saudi arabia

      A very good hub.I have learned a lot from the topic.Keep up the good work!

    • profile image

      Richard Stephen 7 years ago

      I always enjoyed tradition ways to keep my brain sharp my puzzles and mind games but am always looking for new ideas like those in your hub. Thanks for the ideas!

    • TroyM profile image

      TroyM 7 years ago

      Neat ideas! Hubby does Sudoku all the time, even on his Droid. I'm into card games. Keep those brains active!

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

      Great piece I love the Five Neurobic Exercises. I've only tried #2 just for giggles and practice. Always felt that lack of exercise of the brain kills.

    • RobertAllenSavage profile image

      RobertAllenSavage 7 years ago from Buffalo, WYOMING

      HA, I was a mover for many many years SEO, so I know exactly where your husband is coming from!

    • Seakay profile image

      Seakay 7 years ago from Florida

      With age comes wisdom...AND old age! My friend constantly does the NY Times crossword. We'll be at a workshop (I'm a teacher) and he'll be doing the crossword! Actually, as workshops go, he's probably learning more from the crossword!

      Great content and ideas! Thank you.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Very good hub. I like the exercises you picked from the book. I will try some of them!

    • SEO IT! profile image
      Author

      Karla Whitmore 7 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      :) Micky Dee - it happens to the best of us.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      I was exercising my brain a while ago and I think I threw out some neurons or something!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      This is fantastic information, I'll be sure to share it with my 14 year old daughter who's taking Algebra II this fall, she has mentioned she's tired of math and yet this will perk her up! As for me I meditate everyday! Thanks :)

    • SEO IT! profile image
      Author

      Karla Whitmore 7 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      Hi Robert,

      My husband is a mover and has always been mechanical-minded and good at visual measurement. I never really made that connection until now. It shows why he enjoys his job so much!

    • RobertAllenSavage profile image

      RobertAllenSavage 7 years ago from Buffalo, WYOMING

      SEO, as usual another great hub. I would like to add what I do to exercise my brain if I may. I draw stuff, shapes, boxes, circles, etc., then I try to convert them into three dimensional technical drawings. I am also famous for seeing how many things I can put into a single box, trying to leave as little airspace as I can. This minor things may seem irrelevant, but they are actually great tools for using the mechanical portion of our brains. I spent 20 years as a mover, I think that being able to shove a 4 bedroom house into a 24 foot truck is a feat to be admired. It is after all just "visual math". Thanks for another good one!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Great hub and I learned a lot from it, thank you.

    • SEO IT! profile image
      Author

      Karla Whitmore 7 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      I struggled with algebra through high school, but found it remarkably easier in college. Maybe the struggling helped build on those processes that eventually made all the connections necessary for learning in a more advanced class... I'm not sure.

      But, I'm with you. I have never been a fan of algebra.

    • SEO IT! profile image
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      Karla Whitmore 7 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      Peg,

      I love your idea of learning a language with the television.

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      As I get older, I realize how much I need to exercise my brain. Thanks for some great suggestions that I plan to try. Not sure I want to do the algebra though (not my favorite by a long shot). Aloha!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I loved the Five Neurobic Exercises you chose. Number 5 is my favorite. I've been doing this when I mute the commercials on TV. Good fun! We also watch the non-English channels to try and pick up a few words in a foreign language. Good article.