Mental Muscle

When you adopt fitness as a lifestyle, you quickly realize there is a never-ending learning process and a never-ending process of improving and correcting movement patterns. The human brain is a mental muscle requiring the same conditioning and practice to keep it strong, balanced, and ready for action.

Just like anything else in life we learn, some things take more practice than others. Whether it’s an exercise movement, a method, a process or program, all things take time and practice. 

  1. Test your recall. Make a list — of grocery items, things to do, or anything else that comes to mind — and memorize it. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation. 
  2. Learn. Learn to play a musical instrument, learn a new language or join a choir. Studies show that learning something new and complex over a longer period of time is ideal for the aging mind. It doesn’t matter if you become good or proficient at what you choose; it’s the process that stimulates the brain.
  3. Do math in your head. Figure out problems without the aid of pencil, paper, or computer; you can make this more difficult — and athletic — by walking at the same time. Definitely don’t use a calculator or your digital device. I confess I use pencil and paper.
  4. Take a cooking class. Learn how to cook a new cuisine. Cooking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain. I Google everything and watch YouTube demonstrations which really is fun and mentally stimulating.
  5. Use your hearing. The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain. What’s more, a rich vocabulary has been linked to a reduced risk for cognitive decline. Audio books, foreign language apps, and brain exercise sites.
  6. Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try and think of any other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.
  7. Draw a map from memory. After returning home from visiting a new place, try to draw a map of the area; repeat this exercise each time you visit a new location.
  8. Challenge your taste buds. When eating, try to identify individual ingredients in your meal, including subtle herbs and spices.
  9. Refine your hand-eye abilities. Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, assembling a puzzle, etc.
  10. Learn a new sport. Start doing an athletic exercise that utilizes both mind and body, such as yoga, golf, or tennis.
  11. Learn a new skill. Knit, code, power point, graphic packages, or create playlists on spotify, the world is your oyster.

I hope this list has helped to understand it doesn’t matter what your pleasure may be but the brain loves stimulation of any kind. The brain appreciates newness and can be very curious. Really connect to your life in as many ways as possible. If it stimulates you it excites the brain.