10 fun activities to keep your brain sharp

10 fun activities to keep your brain sharp

June is Alzheimer’s and brain awareness month.

Your brain is a big deal. After all, you use it every day. Simply by existing, your brain uses more energy than any other organ, not to mention the energy needed to make decisions, think critically, process emotions, and so on.

Given the importance of the brain, it makes sense to take care of it. As we age, changes in the brain can cause cognition to decline, and some people can develop brain disorders such as dementia.

More than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease — the most common type of dementia — e women get the disease more than men. This is partly why women live longer than menand age is the biggest risk factor.

“Fortunately, the brain has a lifelong ability to get stronger,” he said Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., chief director of the Center for BrainHealth and Distinguished Professor at UT Dallas. “We can strengthen our brains with how we use them every day,” he said.

Exercise keeps your body and brain healthy. And brain exercises are a way to challenge your brain to sharpen skills related to memory, problem solving, critical thinking, and learning. Keeping the brain engaged in new activities helps it stay sharp.

Here are some simple and inexpensive ways to boost your brain health.

1. Solve puzzles

iStock.com/mayalis

Problem solving is good for the brain and puzzles allow you to do just that. Crossword puzzles can be especially helpful for people with memory problems and have been shown to do so improve cognition. “Crossword puzzles can help build vocabulary, a form of crystallized intelligence,” Chapman said. (Crystallized intelligence is knowledge that comes from prior learning.)

You can also try sudoku and word search puzzles. If you want something more practical, try puzzles.

2. Learn a new language

Learning a new language can be difficult, which is why it’s good exercise for your brain. “It takes enormous amounts of mental energy to learn a new language,” Chapman said. “This can allow you to communicate with different people, have a richer travel experience, and give you a whole new level of understanding books and movies in the new language.” Additionally, a study found that learning a new language can delay the onset of dementia for several years.

3. Get social

Happy cartoon human brain character congratulating

iStock.com/mayalis

Spending time with your friends and family is nourishing for the soul and can even be good for your noggin. According to Chapman, laughter and deeper social connections are essential contributors to stronger, longer-lasting brain health.

Socializing also stimulates your memory and can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. It might seem like you’re just having a friendly conversation, but your brain is busy.

Social activities can include hanging out with friends but also being involved in your community, volunteering, attending church functions or joining a club.

4. Dance out

It turns out you can tap dance (or TikTok dance) to improve your brain health. Exercise is good for the brain, and dancing is a great way to have fun while moving. But it also requires memorizing steps, coordinating movements and socializing with others, which also makes it good exercise for the mind. Taking a ballroom dance class in particular can help improve yours memory, attention and concentration.

5. Perform light exercises

Cute funny cartoon brain playing jumping rope

iStock.com/mayalis

Taking the dog for a walk, doing household chores, and practicing yoga poses are all good ways to stay active, and they’re good for your brain, too. Tai Chi is an example of a light exercise that has been linked to improvement of cognitive function. “What’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” Chapman said when explaining why exercise is linked to better brain health. “Tai Chi has movements and patterns that have been shown to boost memory.”

6. Join a book club

Funny nerdy brain character in glasses finding a solution concept with question mark and light bulb idea symbol

iStock.com/mayalis

Book clubs are a two-for-one cerebral bonus. Not only do they encourage you to read more and mingle with new people, but they also foster deep critical thinking about your reading material, which is a good workout for your brain.

“You can make reading healthier for the brain by thinking deeply and creatively about what you’ve read,” Chapman said. Try challenging yourself to come up with new ideas by asking questions like: What lessons have you learned from reading that inspire changes in your life? If you had to give the book a new title to capture what it’s about, what would it be?

7. Have a family game night

Who doesn’t love family game night? Win, lose or draw, your brain only gets better by playing. Think about it: Your brain benefits from problem solving, social engagement, and stimulation — and game night accomplishes all three.

There’s no shortage of games to choose from: board games, card games, and even video games it can be good for the brain. You can also participate in local trivia events to get your gears spinning.

8. Do craft projects

If you love a good DIY project, you’re doing your brain a favor. Many find crafting to be a good stress reliever, which can also boost your mental acuity and brain health. You don’t have to be a skilled artist to enjoy creative pursuits like painting and drawing. Take an art class or pick up a coloring book to exercise those creativity muscles. Or create a scrapbook to keep some of your favorite memories.

9. Listen to music

Cute joyful human brain organ character listening music in headphones

iStock.com/mayalis

Singing lyrics and playing melodies can give your memory a serious workout and help keep your brain young. THE brain-music connection it works in various ways. Listening to songs can help improve memory and mental alertness, and it also has other beneficial effects for the brain, such as improving sleep quality.

10. Play a musical instrument

It’s not just listening to tunes that can be a real brain booster. Playing a musical instrument can offer a few protection against dementia later in life. If you want to stay sharp, try picking up the guitar or oboe to work your way to a sharper brain.

From articles on your site
  • 15 (plus) minutes with Dr Sanjay Gupta ›
  • 15 minutes with Dr Sanjay Gupta ›
  • 10 ways to improve your memory ›
  • Keep your brain healthy at any age ›
Related articles Around the web