Your brain needs daily exercise just as much as your body. Learn how you can keep a cool head and playfully jolt your brain into action.
On average, adults reach their physical and mental peak between the ages of 25 and 30. After which it’s all downhill! Sounds bad, but a closer look reveals that you can actually combat this downward slide. By constantly introducing many new stimuli – both physically and mentally – you can even become more productive. We share some best practices and exercises, which will help you agile and alert.
We achieve mental fitness not only by consciously tackling tasks and solving puzzles, but also by mixing up our exercise routines, enjoying a varied diet and trying new experiences. It’s important to be flexible and allow for a change of perspective as often as possible.
So why not take a look at the world from a totally different point of view? For example, imagine the world through the eyes of your boss, your partner – or even through the eyes of children.
Your brain is as much as 75-80% water, which is why a sufficient intake of fluids is enormously important. Dehydration prompts headaches and inhibits efficient synapse transmission. Minerals also play a crucial role in brain health, especially magnesium, which supports the functioning of the nervous and cognitive systems. In fact, primary research conducted at the Center for Learning and Memory at Tsinghua University, Beijing suggests that increased intake of magnesium can improve learning and memory.* Drinking mineral-rich Gerolsteiner daily may help jolt your grey matter into action.
*Source: Science Daily
The adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is complete and utter nonsense. Nerve cells cannot only be repaired, they can also be regenerated, and the more you mentally challenge yourself the stronger the links between our brain cells become. Learning a new language is considered one of the best ways to push the limits of your aging brain.
Physical activities help your brain too as they increase blood circulation, which in turn brings more important oxygen to your brain. Combining physical and mental activities is, dare we say, a ‘no-brainer’. Consider taking up an activity or sport that requires coordination, for example, dance tennis or swimming.
Intense natural experiences can improve your creativity and problem solving abilities. In a U.S. study, 56 hikers were asked to solve a set of different puzzles both before and after four- to six-day trips in the wild. They hiked without any mobile phones and other electronic devices. The hikers’ ability to come up with creative solutions to problems was, on average, 50 percent higher after their hike than before.
In order to boost your ability to concentrate and perform at your best, you should take multiple small breaks from your work – get up from your desk and move around. Exercises that incorporate the sensitivity and motor function of your feet and hands also help train your brain, as these parts of the body are represented by a particularly large area of the brain. It also means that you are also able to perform more precise movements with your hands and feet than say your knees and elbows.
Try these eye-hand games to keep your brain cells sparking on all cylinders.
Juggling can be quickly picked up and enormously increases brain performance. Dexterity and hand-eye coordination is improved. Begin with two balls and at first only change hands when you throw them into the air at the same time. It’s important to be patient with yourself as you’re unlikely to get the hang of it straight away! Juggling is effective because muscles and nerves must learn new actions in tandem with each other. Learning can be fun if you try it with your friends or family.
In this simple concentration exercise, both the left and right cerebral hemispheres are put to work! It’s easy; simply write numbers or letters in the air with one of your fingers. Next, use your other hand and write the same numbers or letters in the air – but this time back-to-front – at the same time. This is really difficult to begin with, but practice makes perfect! And if you want to increase the level of difficulty, do the same thing with a pen and paper and then write full sentences.
This simple exercise is brain training in the truest sense. Simply count steps when you are walking – and if you miscount, start the count again from the beginning. Sounds childish? Don’t blow it off until you try it. This exercise also works well when going up stairs. So the next time you have the option to take the stairs, do so, and start counting. You will kill two birds with one stone.
A laughing woman is doing exercises outside: Neustockimages / iStockphoto, A woman is balancing her way across a tree-trunk: IsaacLKoval / iStockphoto, A crystal in a water splash, surrounded by the chemical symbols of Calcium, Magnesium and Bicarbonate: ElementalImaging / iStockphoto