10 Real-World Brain Exercises That Work to Keep Your Mind Sharp

While you might know that you need to exercise your body, did you know that it might also be necessary to exercise your mind? Brain training is all the talk these days, often touted as a way to sharpen your mind and even boost intelligence.

Studies have shown that adults who engage in stimulating brain activities are 63% less likely to develop dementia than those who rarely challenge themselves.

Brain exercises help your mental health and fitness in the same way your body benefits from physical exercise.

Here are several exercises you can do to sharpen your mental skills and keep your brain in top condition:

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.

Start Counting                 
Another exercise that requires your full attention is counting backward. For example, you can begin at 200, count backward and subtract five until you reach 100 (200, 195, 190, etc.) Then, continue counting back, but this time subtract three until you reach the final result (100, 97, 94, etc.)

This is a fun and simple exercise you can do daily to keep your mind on track.

Do math in your head
Figure out problems without the help of a pencil, paper, or computer; you can make this more difficult — and athletic — by walking at the same time.

Take a cooking class
Learn how to cook a new cuisine. Cooking uses several senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain.

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.

Learn a foreign language
The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain. What’s more, a rich vocabulary has been linked to a reduced risk for cognitive decline.

Refine your hand-eye abilities 
Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, assembling a puzzle, etc.

Use Your Non-Dominant Hand
Did you know that your dominant hand is hooked up to the opposite side of your brain? Your trusty right hand, for instance, is connected to your left side of the brain. So, it’s only natural that you’ll feel clumsy using your non-dominant hand. Switching hands can help build new connections between brain cells, increase your creativity and make you more open minded!

Eat with Chopsticks
This will force you to eat more mindfully which is good for your brain, digestion and calorie consumption. (If you’re already good at this, use your non-dominant hand instead.)

Watch Your Diet
You might think that you need to take supplements to help your memory, but the reality is that you can get the nutrients you need from food. Omega-3 fats, in particular, are especially beneficial for your brain and overall health. Foods such as salmon, tuna, chia seeds, and almonds promote new brain cell formation, help build brain cell membranes, and reduce brain inflammation.

Overall whether you’re 30 or 90, it’s a good time to start implementing practices to keep your mind active. Which brain exercises are you adding to your daily routine? Tell us in the comments below.