Brain training has become very popular. From mobile phone apps to old-school board games and puzzles, these mind strengthening exercises promise to boost memory and concentration. However, some cognitive scientists say such claims are both exaggerated and misleading.
Here we focus on five activities that are proven to improve your brain’s health. Have a go at one of the brain training exercises, once a week and track if you can notice any differences.
Tai – chi
The slow fluidity of Tai-Chi is like a gentle dance. Yet its graceful movement has the power to strengthen the brain. A study by researchers at the University of South Florida and Fudan University in China discovered that Tai Chi increased brain volume in the elderly who practiced it three times a week for 40 weeks.
Tai Chi focuses attention on your breath to relax the body and calm and clear the mind. The exercise cultivates stillness and increases cognitive skills. This single focus can help your brain make lasting changes that impact the way you see the world.
This ancient Chinese tradition also relieves stress, as it is a form of moving meditation. The brain cleverly makes new pathways, allowing an increase in emotional stability.
Learn a foreign language
At any age, learning a foreign language is a potent way to exercise your brain. Working with new words and grammar rules encourages different parts of the brain to work together, creating better integrated networks. This allows for faster and more efficient learning.
Family Game Night
Board games cleverly combine fun and mental stimulation. Whether it’s Monopoly, Chess or Scrabble, the need to anticipate your opponent’s next move, while planning your own, hones logical-mathematical intelligence, which is responsible for your ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. It will help increase your mental flexibility, enabling you to adjust to life’s ups and downs.
The mind and body are more closely connected than you might think. Numerous studies show how emotional anxiety and stress can leave your body feeling drained and lacking energy. A study conducted by physiologist Christopher and his team, used brain scans to test the theory if self-affirmations work. They found that that the effectiveness of the self-affirmation was specifically correlated with levels of brain activity seen during future-oriented thinking.
Practising daily affirmations is a simple but effective way to develop a more positive mindset, helping to relieve tension in your body. An example of a daily affirmation is . By empowering your thinking in this way you will also create more room to get involved in other tasks.
Sudoku was created by Leonhard Euler, a Swiss mathematician allows you to practise logical reasoning and problem solving, while also improving your numerical skills. The pleasure and satisfaction is in getting past a few stumbling blocks to complete every square. Neuroscientist Professor Ian Robertson said that “challenging mental tasks such as crosswords and Suduko could give the brain a much-needed workout”
Try a different exercise each week, and choose which ones work for you. Your brain (and body) will thank you for it.