This time of year, people everywhere are flocking to local fitness centers to get their bodies primed and pumped, in an effort to stay young and healthy. The physical fitness industry is huge, with over 26 billion dollars spent and nearly 30 thousand businesses engaged in helping people stay at their peak.
However, few too many people take the time to exercise the most important muscle in the body – the brain. Keeping your brain sharp is the key to longevity; therefore it needs to be part of your wellness plan too. The brain is made up of five major cognitive regions that manage the following:
- Attention Span
- Memory Recall
- Language Skills
- Executive Function
- Visual-Spatial Abilities
Here are some exercises that promote overall brain health by stimulating all of these cognitive areas, to add to your workout routine.
Memory Games – A fun and easy way to challenge and exercise the brain is by playing a variety of memory games, conveniently found online and mobile devices. Use memory game apps to recall pieces of information to earn points. Or simply learn a sequence of numbers or characters and see how many you can recall at once.
Listening to Music – Using music as you exercise and go about the other tasks in your life can enhance your brain function. In a joint 2004 research study conducted by Pfizer, Inc. and Ohio State University, researchers found that men who worked out listening to music, “performed more than twice as well on a verbal fluency test after listening to music while exercising than they did after exercising without the music.” It doesn’t matter what kind of music either.
Hand Eye Coordination – As we age, our hand and eye coordination diminishes, subtly at first, but then getting progressively worse. This is due to deteriorating brain cells in the central cortex of the brain. To slow down this process, you’ll want to incorporate activities into your life that encourage detailed hand work, such as doing some type of craft or hobby that requires concentration and use of fine motor skills.
Challenging the Senses – The brain controls all your main senses that include touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell. To keep the brain working at full capacity, take the time to challenge your senses trough simple exercises. For example, try getting dressed in the dark or with a blindfold. Or you could try to wear sound-blocking headphones and rely on your other senses to communicate.
Reading Aloud – Language is one of the gifts of being human, and this involves several main areas of the brain itself. An easy exercise for maintaining this ability is to continually stimulate your mind through reading and reciting activities. Listen to books on tape as you work out or drive in the car. Join a book club or volunteer at a local community center to read to others. This very action can sustain brain health and give you a social outlet that’s good for your soul.
In all your daily activities, take note of the time you spend exercising your brain. You’ll find new ways to challenge and inspire you as you focus on the sustaining power of the brain, and you’ll be more likely to remain sharp long into life.