When you’re working out, a few things are probably running through your mind. Changing your body composition, burning calories, building more muscle, or strengthening your cardiovascular system. But did you know that there is one body part that most of us neglect to think about in terms of exercise?
This specific organ helps you do, well, everything! Seeing as the brain is the center of the nervous system and controls your body and mind, it strongly impacts your mental health and productivity, so you should be paying close attention to it every day. You can do all kinds of activities to enhance cognitive performance, but sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between more and less suitable techniques.
Our goal is to help you with that. Keep reading to learn the top 10 brain training exercises to heighten your intellectual power.
Regular exercise will impact both your physical and intellectual capabilities. First off, you should understand that jogging drastically improves your cardio-respiratory system. On the other hand, research reveals that running improves executive function aspects, which is a suite of high-level mental faculties that include the ability to marshal attention, tune out distractions, switch between tasks, and solve problems.
It may sound too complicated, but the bottom line is simple, running helps you relax, regain mental strength, and go back to your daily duties at total capacity. In many brain research studies, those who were the most fit reaped the most brain benefits, so keep exercising regularly and challenging your body.
Although not yet proven in humans, when animals are given a chance to run on exercise wheels, they have shown an increase in the creation and survival of new brain cells in the hippocampus.
The 4-Details Observation Exercise
Being watchful of others around you is a great social skill. Some scientists have labeled brain exercises passive memory training. Passive because there’s no unique memory technique. You’re simply asking your mind to do what it was designed to do, and that is to remember!
You may wonder why this matters. We don’t ask our minds to practice observation enough, and if we don’t do that, we fail to observe and recall the information it brings. We also fail to follow things that we aren’t seeing, making it impossible to take mental pictures. We can teach you all about how to do that with these simple visualization exercises. Gary Small, MD, talks about memorizing four details of people you come across in public.
For example, someone is wearing a blue hat, has blonde hair, a round ring, and a yellow sweater. Your goal is to observe the details first and then recall them later. You can start by watching just one person per day. Once you’ve gotten good at recognizing four details of just one person, you can add more information, more people, or both.
Playing mind games, whether it’s a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or Scrabble, engages your brain in some play most days of the week. And try to mix up your games. It’s like building muscles. Your brain will adapt as it grows stronger in one skill, so you must keep challenging it in new ways. Now that’s some food for thought!
For example, take Sudoku, which is an ancient logical game that combines numbers and puzzles. It’s a perfect solution for adventurous individuals who enjoy playing with numbers. The thing that makes it even more feasible is that you can download the Sudoku app and train the brain whenever you have a few minutes to spare or simply feel like doing so. Or you can even get trivial!
Once a week, meet up with some friends or family and play Trivial Pursuit or some other trivia-based game. When you remember historical facts or pop culture tidbits, it can help work your brain in new ways!
If you want to play something that will help your brain become stronger, this Scrabble game is going to make those nights with your friends funnier!
What Are You Eating?
Just like a magic pill doesn’t exist to prevent cognitive decline, no single almighty brain food can ensure a sharp brain at any age. Nutritionists emphasize that an essential strategy is to follow a healthy dietary pattern that includes many fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Try to get your protein from plant sources and fish.
Choose healthy fats, such as olive oil or canola, rather than saturated fats. Studies find that the best brain foods are the same ones that protect your heart and blood vessels. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli, and collards, are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene.
Research also suggests that these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline. Nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats, and one type, in particular, might also improve memory. A study in 2015 from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. Walnuts are high in an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which lowers blood pressure and cleans the arteries. That’s great for both the heart and the brain. Not only are they good for you, but they’re also tasty!
Reading aids people’s brains in processing information both visually and verbally more efficiently. Brains that can’t read might also have a hard time processing verbal information, which could be why a slow reader may fall behind in other academic areas. Reading enhances every aspect of a person’s communication skills.
A study found that reading improves communication between different regions of the brain. One hundred hours of intensive reading increased the quantity of compromised white matter in children’s brains to normal levels. Neuroscientists have a theory that reading rewires certain regions of the brain responsible for both spoken language and vision. Even adults who learn to read later on in life can encounter these effects by increasing functional connectivity with the visual cortex, which may be the brain’s way of processing and fine-tuning the overflow of visual information that calls for our attention in the modern world.
Authors have suggested that reading every day can tame late-life brain decline. Other researchers have said that reading has been proven to slow the rate of memory deterioration and the deterioration of different essential mental capacities. In other words, reading can help people live longer.
It’s hard to envision a person not using tablets, smartphones, or laptops. Even though it gives us incredible learning and communication opportunities, it also overwhelms our brains because we are constantly obtaining information. The brain can hardly digest so many new things day after day, so it begins to gradually slow down.
You can cut down on technology and give the brain some time to process further information. Make it a habit, and try to unplug whenever you get a chance to do it. Some people find giving up their devices reasonably easy. Others will find it much more complex and even anxiety-provoking at times.
Here are some tips for a Digital Detox that will help you not feel overwhelmed. Notify your loved ones that you are on a digital detox and ask for their support. Find ways to stay preoccupied and keep other activities on hand. Leave the house, go to dinner with friends, or go for a walk when using your device becomes a temptation.
Your opposite hand can unleash creativity. Your non-dominant hand can be linked to the non-dominant hemisphere in your brain, which is the one that isn’t exercised as often. Some studies show that when you use your dominant hand, one hemisphere of the brain is active. When you use the non-dominant hand, both hemispheres are activated, resulting in thinking differently and becoming more creative. Repetitively using your opposite hand will eventually build up the knowledge and ability to use it with better function.
However, it’s probably not going to become as easy to use as your dominant hand. The parts of the brain that operate effectively for our everyday activities may not be the same part allowing us to be creative. If you’d like to unleash some hidden creativity, try writing with your opposite hand. It is sometimes the nudge our practical brain needs to “move out of the way” for the creative juices to get flowing again!
Well, if you can start doing things with your non-dominant hand, it will force your brain to change perspectives and think differently, which is always an excellent way to make it work overtime. The point is to give your mind new problems to solve.
Learn a New Language
This tip serves multiple purposes. The most fundamental goal is to activate the brain by making it do something new and exciting such as learning a foreign language. It is beneficial if you are studying a completely unknown language such as German or French. Because the language portion in the brain is so malleable, learning a second language develops new areas of your mind and strengthens your brain’s natural ability to focus.
Learning another language helps improve people’s memory abilities and thinking skills. Bilingual students concentrate better by ignoring distractions more effectively than those who only speak one language. Learning a new language is also a great bonus to meeting new people through studying. The studies suggest that bilingualism improves the brain’s executive function. It helps ignore distractions, stay focused, switch attention blindly from one thing to another, and keep information in your mind.
Learning to speak another language is an extraordinary way to increase intelligence, keep your mind sharp, and shield your brain against aging. A study in 2009 led by Agnes Kovacs of the International School for Advanced Studies in Italy shows that seven-month-old babies exposed to two languages from birth displayed improved cognitive control abilities compared to their monolingual counterparts.
Join Yoga Courses
The usual delusion about yoga is that it’s just another type of exercise. Maybe it’s because people often see yogis stretching and doing pretzel-like poses. However, the reality is that the advantages of yoga are more encompassing than just the physical. Thanks to modern technology and MRI scans, now we can see how yoga affects your brain.
Besides keeping your body healthy, it also increases your brainpower. If you are not an individual who enjoys running or serious physical training, perhaps yoga classes are your answer. Working on brief yoga sessions and meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels. Even though this training is effortless, it can substantially enhance your cognitive performance short and long term.
A bonus in yoga is your constant use and practice of control in your breathing, posture, and mental activity, resulting in increased gray matter density and activation in your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Doing this enables you to have better focus and concentration and makes you more in tune with your senses and self-aware. It affects decision-making as well as being better at evaluating rewards and consequences and makes you more willing to delay gratification.
Change Your Daily Routine
Our second tip is excellent for people who don’t want to invest too much effort in brain training exercises. Specifically, changing your daily routine will be enough to take your brain out of autopilot mode.
By changing up your schedule and breaking habits, you can experience less burnout and have a more positive experience in your everyday life. When people are burnt out, they often do not function as well, are exhausted, and have reduced cognitive capacity.
Jake Gardner, a life coach at NSBroker, says the brain reacts positively to changes in the environment. For instance, you can drive different routes day after day and prevent your brain from getting used to the same pattern. This simple trick is more than enough to stay alert.
Researchers have much more to learn about the brain, but scientists have discovered quite a bit about the physical and intellectual effects of exercise on the brain over the last decade. It turns out that exercising regularly and training your brain can boost your brainpower, just like physical activity can strengthen your muscles.
One study in Neurology showed that exercise might help slow the brain shrinking in people with early Alzheimer’s disease. It has been discovered that adults diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s who weren’t physically fit had more brain shrinkage than normal older adults. Physically fit people show less of a decrease in gray matter than is generally seen with aging.
The brain controls everything, including your moods, behavior, and mental performance. But if you want to reach the best results intellect-wise, you need to take care of your brain and help it flourish. In this post, we have explained the top brain training exercises to boost your intellectual power. Feel free to test each choice and choose the one that suits your interests and lifestyle.
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