A healthy body requires a healthy mind. Mental exercises can help keep your mind in shape by boosting mental strength and providing greater mental clarity. If you don’t exercise regularly, your body will eventually become out of shape. The same concept applies to our brain as well — if the brain is not being challenged on a regular basis, its performance will start to diminish.
Cognitive reserve is the brain’s ability to sustain the neurological damage that comes with the aging process, without showing any loss of mental clarity or mental strength. Performing regular exercises can improve your brain’s cognitive reserve just as regular workouts will improve your body’s physical performance.
Unlike physical workouts, you won’t have to buy any new equipment or pay hefty gym fees. There are plenty of mental exercises you can right within your own home, most of which cost nothing at all. Don’t get lured into buying expensive “brain training” software until you try these exercises first. In fact, it may be a surprise to know that multiple studies have found computerized cognitive training is not especially effective when it comes to improving brain performance.
The most effective training for mental strength and mental clarity involves performing real-life activities. Something as simple as changing up your morning routine, such as brushing your teeth with your other hand, can be enough to provide a challenge for your brain and keep it sharp
In this post, I will provide some further suggestions for exercises that can help to provide mental clarity and boost mental strength.
5 Mental Exercises to Challenge Your Brain and Provide Greater Mental Clarity
You can administer your own memory tests by creating lists and trying to recall them later. The lists can be virtually anything — items in a recipe, favorite songs, things you need to do around the house, etc. Write it down and recite it a few times in your head. After an hour or two revisit the list and see how many items you can remember. If you’re finding this exercise too easy, you can make it more challenging by creating more complex lists.
You know those times during the day when you pull out a calculator to perform simple calculations, such as calculating a tip or figuring out the total cost of a list of items? Stop doing that. Instead, do the math in your head when you run into these kinds of situations. Relying too much on technology for things we can figure out ourselves is not a good way to keep the mind sharp.
Learn Something New
Learn how to do a new thing — anything! Whether it’s learning a new instrument, learning a new language, learning a new sport, or learning how to paint. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something you haven’t done before. Make sure it’s something you enjoy because the idea is to stick with it for an extended period of time. Studies show that learning something new and complex, and keeping at it long term, is one of the best exercises you can do to improve mental clarity.
Go Somewhere New
If budget permits, travel somewhere interesting that you haven’t been before. Go on some tours, absorb the culture and everything it has to offer. This will challenge the brain by taking it out of its day-to-day environment. Afterward, you’ll return with a greater sense of mental clarity. Not to mention going somewhere new involves all of the fives senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. Studies have proven that the brain works through association, so the more senses you can incorporate into your mental exercises the better.
Draw a Map
Related to the last point about traveling; when you go somewhere new, how well do you think you can remember it? After visiting a new location, test your recall by drawing a map of the place you have just been. Afterward, see how well it resembles an actual map of the place you visited.
Just as there are steps you can take to improve your physical health and performance, there are steps you can take to improve your brain’s cognitive health and performance. This will promote a higher level of mental clarity. To find out if your brain is functioning at an optimal level for your age, contact me for a consultation and look into our executive health assessment services.
Lorraine Maita, MD is an award winning physician, speaker, and author of “Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier.” She can make you slim, sharp, sexy and supercharged. She is an expert in anti-aging medicine, bioidentical hormone replacement, weight loss, medical nutrition, supplements, and executive health. Dr. Maita was the medical director for 3 Fortune 100 companies and has a private practice specializing in Functional, Integrative, Personalized and Anti-Aging Medicine in Summit and Basking Ridge, NJ (http://www.howtoliveyounger.com/). She educates virtually at www.vibranceforlife.com. She is also an advisory team member for Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life on WOR radio, the #1 talk radio station in the NY Metropolitan area.