Morning. Time to leave for work in two minutes. You are frantically searching for the house keys that you know you kept on the table yesterday. Or did you? More searching….until you finally locate them. You are ten minutes late already!
Sounds familiar? We all have small memory lapses but at times we begin to worry if we are going to end up as a forgetful senior or worse. Perhaps writers are even more scared about losing their mental agility because they cannot imagine a life without words. Writer or not, we don’t have to go that way. This is where the brain exercises to prevent memory loss and improve mental fitness come in.
Neuroscientists are constantly disproving myths about the steep decline of brain function with age. In 1998, a team of American and Swedish scientists
demonstrated for the first time that new brain cells are generated in adult humans. It is now known that the mental decline most people experience is not due to the steady death of nerve cells but from the loss of communication between brain cells due to the decreasing number and complexity of dendrites, the branches on nerve cells.
Every day, your brain has the opportunity to grow new cells and form new neural connections, provided you give it what it needs-that is the right kind of nutrition and stimulation.
What Is Brain Exercise?
We tend to rely primarily on our senses of vision and hearing. Our other
senses—smell, taste, and touch—are less frequently used. A good brain exercise is any activity that is complex, novel and uses all the five senses, or at least as many as can be used in any given situation.
Dr Lawrence Kat, an internationally recognized neurobiologist who has been a pioneer in neuron regeneration research, coined the phrase “Neurobics” to describe brain exercises that enhance brain performance by using all five senses in new and novel ways.
Are we giving our brain enough exercise?
We often tend to think that we are exercising our brain if we read or write a lot and do the crossword and sudoku in the Sunday newspaper. No doubt, this is a great exercise for the brain but this is not enough. We need to do much more. We need to vary our brain’s routine and include many different kinds of tasks to give it sufficient stimulation to grow.
According to Dr Lawrence Kat, there is no need to find a special time or place to do Neurobic exercises. Everyday life is the Neurobic Brain Gym. All you need to do is alter your everyday chores to convert them into neurobic exercises.
Let the fun begin!
10 Simple Ways To Prevent Memory Loss and Improve Mental Fitness
1. Break Up Your Routine
Routine is not stimulating enough! Experience new things. Begin each day of the week with a random different smell. Try coffee, vanilla, your favourite cologne, or even the smell of rain. Take a different route to work. Begin your shopping in a different order from your usual at the supermarket. Try a new cuisine. Let your brain feel the difference. The possibilities are endless, and a whole lot of fun.
2. Have Fun With Puzzles
Remember how much you enjoyed spending hours over puzzles as a child? It seems the child in you knew instinctively that the puzzles would help your brain grow. That is true for any age-group.
Try out different puzzles…Sudoku, Jigsaws, Word-Games… whatever you fancy at a given moment.
For now, see if you can solve these rebus puzzles.
If you are game for more word-games, check out The Wordplay Web Site
3. Shut off one sense and experience the world with a different perspective.
Shut your eyes and experience the warmth of the shower.
Try to choose your shoes and bag with your eyes shut. Let the textures stimulate and challenge you.
Try and find the right key to your door without looking at the bunch of keys.
Put earplugs in your ears while you experience the street-scene from your balcony with coffee in your hand.
Clip your nose and try to figure out the difference in the taste of various foods.
Hold a blind wine or chocolate tasting session.
4. Try mirror writing.
Begin with the alphabet. Then go on to words in capitals, followed by cursive hand writing. If you have difficulty in imagining the mirror images of words, keep a small mirror handy for help. Challenge yourself!
5. Read aloud and listen to readings
Instead of reading quietly, try reading aloud. You can also share reading sessions with your friend or partner and alternate between reading and listening.
Try listening to audiobooks on your way to work.
Read aloud stories to your kids but remember to do so not just at bedtimes but at random times during the day.
6. Shake up your world
Turn your clock upside down. It forces the brain to work a little harder.
Switch hands. Try doing things with your non-dominant hand…brush your teeth, write a letter, eat or wash the dishes.
Operate your mobile phone sideways or upside down.
7. Choose to do a tiny writing exercise every day.
Writing can be much more than just work. In fact, it can be a fun way to take a break from the boring day. How about converting thoughts into shapes and figures? Sketch your thoughts instead of using words.
Use onomatopoeia in everyday life. Try to describe the scene at the parking lot in onomatopoeia.
Speak a whole sentence in single syllable words.
Do this word puzzle today.
8. Fun with fingers
Let’s take a mental break here and use the brain in a different way.
Can you do this with your fingers?
9. Colour Puzzle
Read the words written in the picture.
Easy? Great! Now read the colours they are written in instead of the words. I know you can do it!
10. Sharpen your observation
Look at the picture for one minute. Then try to list ten details from your memory. When you master that, try fifteen.
Now wasn’t that stimulating?
I hope you gave your brain a good workout today. Add some of these into your schedule every day to keep your brain agile.
Make Neurobics a part of your life to improve mental fitness and minimize memory loss. Your brain would thank you for caring!
But before you go, a look at the answers to the puzzles (if you haven’t seen them already!)
Word Puzzle Answers
- Wheelmen, Flywheel, Pinwheel, Wheelbase
2. Playdown, Playacting, Swordplay, Playgroup
3. Housework, Fieldwork, Workflow, Overwork
4. Upstage, Lineup, Upland, Uptight