Beneficial Activities for Brain Building
Cognitive training that stimulates the brain is just as essential as physical exercise training that strengthens our bodies. Exercising your mind is necessary at all ages. If you are not using your brain consistently, it can deteriorate and become atrophied. Brain atrophy essentially destroys the connections that help the cells communicate. People with brain atrophy typically develop poorer cognitive functioning as a result of this type of brain damage. According to studies, seniors can gain an additional 14 years of “cognitive youth” by practicing mental exercises. Keeping the brain active and engaged can help slow down any naturally occurring deterioration. The more we challenge our minds, the better we will maintain our cognitive skills.
Cognitive Skills and Why They Are Important
Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. If these skills are weak, your ability to grasp, retain, and use information is impacted. As we age, our cognitive skills aren’t as sharp as they used to be. Luckily, our brains are like any other muscle, and with regular exercise, you can keep it healthy. To keep your brain healthy, here are some exercises and activities that you can work into your daily or weekly routine that can positively impact your cognitive skills.
Puzzles are amongst the most widespread mental exercises. Science has found that solving puzzles is great for both mental health and relaxation. Puzzles are easy to integrate into your routine and are fun activities that can be completed solo or with friends. Different types of puzzles include Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, word search puzzles, or crosswords. They also come in a wide variety of varying levels of difficulty so that everyone can enjoy them without getting frustrated. Puzzles have been shown to improve memory, problem-solving, creativity, and other cognitive functions.
Everyone loves playing games! From trivia games to board games like Monopoly, games are a fun and engaging way to stimulate the brain. They require you to use many of your cognitive skills that will improve your brain’s health. Trivia is one of the best games to maintain your memory because they make you think about past events and facts. Card games or games like Chess also require you to think strategically by making you consider the pros and cons of each move. Not only are games fun, but they bring both the value of added mental exercise and entertainment.
Arts and Crafts
Using your creative skills is always an excellent way to keep your mind active. Arts and crafts projects not only keep the mind busy, but they also keep your hands active as well. Some arts and crafts projects that you can engage in are knitting, painting, drawing, woodworking, needlepoint, or anything else that might interest you. Research shows that people who do crafts are 30-50% less likely to develop memory loss. Being able to complete a project can also build confidence and provide a sense of purpose.
Gardening is a popular pastime for many individuals. In general, spending time in nature has been associated with improved mental wellness. It keeps you physically active and mobile as well as stimulates your various senses. Gardening is also a great calming and wellness activity to participate in. It has been found to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which may negatively impact memory and learning. It also gives you a positive sense of control and responsibility. Gardening stimulates the mind in many ways and forces you to practice being present every day. Gardening is also very rewarding and offers a lot of other physical and mental benefits.
Music has been shown to stimulate emotions, improve attention and boost memory and alertness. Whether it be playing an instrument or singing, it is a fun mental exercise that can be done alone or with other people. Learning a new song or lyrics is a great way to keep the brain engaged. Music is also helpful in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, making it one of the best mental exercises.
Reading and Writing
Enjoying a good book, reading an article, or the daily news not only keeps you informed and entertained but it also helps to improve a variety of cognitive functions. Reading and writing spark imagination and creativity. Writing also stimulates the brain and effectively enhances memory. Reading and writing forces the brain to create images to match the words on paper, making it one of the most effective ways to exercise the brain.
Socializing & Learning Something New
While it might seem basic, having an engaging conversation and socializing with others is a great way to improve cognitive functions. Remembering names and keeping up with topics can help you avoid loneliness and boredom while also keeping the mind engaged. Most of the activities listed above can be completed with friends and family. When you live in an assisted living community, it’s easy to interact with staff and other residents each day which is suitable for your cognitive functions and wellness.
Explore and find different activities and hobbies that you enjoy to help keep your mind healthy. These little activities that can be incorporated into your daily routine will help improve brain functions by stimulating and working your mind. It is essential to take these steps to keep your minds active and improve memory functions.
Learn more about brain exercises offered at Shannondale here.