When it’s time to exercise the mind, life quickly gets in the way. The hustle and bustle of day-to-day concerns leave most of us craving lights out and bedtime before noon. Still, the time dedicated to maintaining the brain pays off in the long run.
By caring for mental functions with the same attention people place on their bodies and professions, brainpower can go the distance well into old age. So what are the most constructive ways to build mental power?
Exercise the Body
Surprisingly, exercising the body is the first step to creating a strong cerebral foundation. To put it simply, exercise increases the heart rate and pushes more oxygen into the brain. Not only does this lead to the release of certain hormones that make people happier and more receptive to mental stimulus, but exercise also fosters the growth of new brain cells.
Besides priming the brain for mental exercise, physical activity also promotes neuroplasticity. It may sound complicated, but the scientific term describes the growth of new connections between cells and nerve-endings.
Scientists continue to study which exercises are ideal for a happy and strong brain. Until then, making workouts habitual and eating healthy are great first steps to exercising the mind.
From psychologists with Ivy League diplomas to professors of cognitive science, the verdict is in, card games help hone brain function.
From memory to decision-making, engaging with table games like poker and blackjack can help keep the mind sharp. Players must make calculated decisions at the drop of a dime and evaluate risk, while also reading opponents and picking up on cues. These are all skills that can boost the longevity of the brain.
Those interested in diving into the world of numbers and probability don’t need to pony up and head to the casino. Sites like Unibet make it easy for newcomers to try their hand risk-free to see if table games can pique their interest while providing a stimulating puzzle.
For those short on time and attention span, one of the easiest ways to exercise the mind is to get creative with senses. One idea is to ‘cross-train’ the brain by connecting different sensory areas. For example, touching a carrot while smelling a banana and listening to someone bite into an apple engages the brain on multiple levels.
On a less comical level, cross-training the brain can be integrated into day-to-day life. Brushing teeth with a non-dominant hand, showering without opening the eyes, and turning familiar objects (like an empty vase or a painting), are simple ways to trick the brain into doing more work than it normally would.
Undoubtedly, routine benefits the mind and body by providing necessary stability. However, sticking to a routine can lead some into a rut of stagnation. Those looking to break the mold a bit can switch up one of their morning or evening routines to liven up the day and activate different parts of the brain.
Engaging with routine leaves the brain unstimulated. By getting dressed after breakfast or switching which time of day a person showers, different parts of the brain activate. Even activities as simple as switching regular seats at a table can increase cognitive potential.
The benefits of meditation abound—from calming the body to helping a person focus on their goals. But inside the brain, meditation does a lot more than relax and refine their potential. By quieting the mind by sitting in silence or listening to a guided meditation, cerebral activity shifts.
A neuro engineer from Carnegie Mellon University found that the longer a person practices meditation, the less activity happens in certain areas of the brain associated with daydreaming and self-referential thinking. Though having less activity in the brain might seem counterintuitive, it’s important to consider which area of the brain is worth activating.
By quieting the prefrontal cortex and cingulate cortex, the mind can improve functionality between other relevant areas. In other words, meditation can quiet the mind’s white noise.