You have probably already heard that brain exercises help to keep the mind sharp as you age, but no matter what your age, your brain needs to be worked. You can take positive steps starting now. The wonderful thing about exercising the brain is that anyone can do it. The principle that applies to muscles also applies to the brain: Use it or lose it.
Algebra Improves Your Thinking
I first became interested in the concept behind exercising the brain when my daughter was struggling with algebra. “Give me one good reason I have to learn algebra! Just one!”
She had no plans to become a scientist, mathematician, builder, or go into any other technical career and to be truthful, I have never used complex algebra for any real world application. However, there is more to it than that.
I researched it and found a reason. Apparently, the practice of deciding on a formula for a given problem and going through the steps actually builds new connections in the brain and helps you learn new concepts throughout life.
“Learn it because it makes your brain grow and it will help you learn in the future”.
Of course she wasn’t as excited about it as I was, but I offered the same explanation to my son. No matter how much they complained, at least they could not complain that it was pointless.
Admittedly, I have been known to drive them crazy when I stop and ask questions about situations, events and concepts. Instilling empathy and reason has always been important to me. I didn’t think of it as brain exercise, I just wanted them to expand their thinking (the same thing, but in different terms). According to the men who coined the term “neurobics”, I was blessing them with a mental workout. Who knew?
Neurobics – Exercises for the Brain
The principles behind Lawrence Katz and Manning Rubin’s book “Keep Your Brain Alive” are involved in using the senses differently, focusing your attention, and changing your normal routine, even for a short period of time. Some of the ideas may seem silly, but when you apply them, you will see how doing them challenges the mind. This book goes beyond the typical “do crosswords or other types of puzzles” recommendation.
Five Neurobic Exercises: A Handful of Ideas From the Book
- Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, you use the left side of your brain more often than the left and vice-versa.
- Turn off the lights in your house at night and navigate your way through using your memory, sense of touch, sound, and even smell. I don't know about you, but I do this at least once a night when I have to use the restroom.
- Respond to a situation or challenge differently than normal. Pause and consciously change your response.
- Visit places you have never been before. In my opinion, seeing new things, experiencing different cultures and navigating in new directions is not just good for the brain, it is good for the soul.
- Mute the television and make up your own dialogue. Not only does this exercise the brain, it may even exercise your funny bone. Turn off the subtitles before you begin.
Physical Exercise and the Brain
For several years now, I have heard that physical exercise can ease stress and alleviate the symptoms of depression. The latest research shows that mood is not the only change that takes place in the mind when a person exercises. Working out stimulates the brain as well as the body. It makes sense when you recognize the mind and body connection. Blood, oxygen, and nerves flow through it all.
According to a study done by the University of California in San Francisco, exercising greatly decreases cognitive decline.
For best results, exercise every day and challenge yourself to do more each time. You don't have to be an athlete, just keep moving!
Meditation is Good Brain Exercise
Meditation is not easy. In fact, the very act of suppressing thought and concentrating on one particular thing such as breathing, a mantra, or an object demands that the meditator take complete control of his or her brain.
Buddhist monks took part in a long term study involving meditation, brain wave measurements, and images of the brain. Their insistence that meditation helps increase cognitive functioning was confirmed through scientific means.
Those who make meditation a part of their daily routine will experience an increase in cognitive function over the long term.
If you have never meditated or have experienced difficulty that caused you to give up on the practice, don’t let the challenge keep you down. Start slow. Even if you are able to hold your concentration for a minute, you have already accomplished something. Practice and challenge yourself to meditate longer each and every day.
Brain Exercises - Start Today
Brain exercises can help keep the mind sharp through the senior years, but no matter your age, there is no time like the present to begin exercising the brain.
Use it or lose it.
I’m off to meditate.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Karla Domanski
carmelohannity on August 27, 2012:
I found some really awesome math software at http://www.mathmadeeasy.com.
it was reasonably priced and it helped my 5th grader immensely. i would highly recommend these dvds.
sammythrone from North America/South America/Europe/Asia on March 28, 2012:
Like they always say, if you don't use it, then you lose it. With so many memory aids, our ability to "remember" actually decrease. My mom is 60 over but she has better memory than me. Can you believe it?
Fuller-Life from Washington, DC on November 13, 2011:
This is a very good and useful hub. Thanks for making it easy for us to do something about making our lives better and fuller. I should admit there are times that I just haven't taken the time to exercise even when I need. Shame on me, but thanks to you. I am getting back to being fit and smart.
JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on March 29, 2011:
Awesome Hub! Excellent way to personalize doing math! Very good to read-I haven't stopped by in a while but glad I just did!
dablufox from Australia on February 21, 2011:
Some really cool information, I knew all this was important but now I have a better appreciation of just how important exercising your brain is, thanks for the great insight, this is one very well written hub!
john27 on November 29, 2010:
fantastic hubpage in formation
for the brain, this can be profitable
to follow and gain a sharper mind nice
Funom Theophilus Makama from Europe on October 24, 2010:
This is such an awesome hub. Very contemporary and indeed breath- taking. I am so privileged to read this hub because I am duly informed and educated. Hoping to read more of such hubs from you. Cheers!
electricsky from North Georgia on September 20, 2010:
Thank you for sharing your tips on exercising the brain as one ages. I like your book recommendations and maybe I will take a look at one of them.
juncolt from saudi arabia on July 31, 2010:
A very good hub.I have learned a lot from the topic.Keep up the good work!
Richard Stephen on July 26, 2010:
I always enjoyed tradition ways to keep my brain sharp my puzzles and mind games but am always looking for new ideas like those in your hub. Thanks for the ideas!
TroyM on July 16, 2010:
Neat ideas! Hubby does Sudoku all the time, even on his Droid. I'm into card games. Keep those brains active!
pmccray on July 15, 2010:
Great piece I love the Five Neurobic Exercises. I've only tried #2 just for giggles and practice. Always felt that lack of exercise of the brain kills.
RobertAllenSavage from Buffalo, WYOMING on July 12, 2010:
HA, I was a mover for many many years SEO, so I know exactly where your husband is coming from!
Seakay from Florida on July 11, 2010:
With age comes wisdom...AND old age! My friend constantly does the NY Times crossword. We'll be at a workshop (I'm a teacher) and he'll be doing the crossword! Actually, as workshops go, he's probably learning more from the crossword!
Great content and ideas! Thank you.
judydianne from Palm Harbor, FL on July 11, 2010:
Very good hub. I like the exercises you picked from the book. I will try some of them!
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on July 10, 2010:
:) Micky Dee - it happens to the best of us.
Micky Dee on July 10, 2010:
I was exercising my brain a while ago and I think I threw out some neurons or something!
Katie McMurray from Ohio on July 09, 2010:
This is fantastic information, I'll be sure to share it with my 14 year old daughter who's taking Algebra II this fall, she has mentioned she's tired of math and yet this will perk her up! As for me I meditate everyday! Thanks :)
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on July 09, 2010:
My husband is a mover and has always been mechanical-minded and good at visual measurement. I never really made that connection until now. It shows why he enjoys his job so much!
RobertAllenSavage from Buffalo, WYOMING on July 09, 2010:
SEO, as usual another great hub. I would like to add what I do to exercise my brain if I may. I draw stuff, shapes, boxes, circles, etc., then I try to convert them into three dimensional technical drawings. I am also famous for seeing how many things I can put into a single box, trying to leave as little airspace as I can. This minor things may seem irrelevant, but they are actually great tools for using the mechanical portion of our brains. I spent 20 years as a mover, I think that being able to shove a 4 bedroom house into a 24 foot truck is a feat to be admired. It is after all just "visual math". Thanks for another good one!
Hello, hello, from London, UK on July 09, 2010:
Great hub and I learned a lot from it, thank you.
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on July 08, 2010:
I struggled with algebra through high school, but found it remarkably easier in college. Maybe the struggling helped build on those processes that eventually made all the connections necessary for learning in a more advanced class... I'm not sure.
But, I'm with you. I have never been a fan of algebra.
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on July 08, 2010:
I love your idea of learning a language with the television.
Elayne from Rocky Mountains on July 08, 2010:
As I get older, I realize how much I need to exercise my brain. Thanks for some great suggestions that I plan to try. Not sure I want to do the algebra though (not my favorite by a long shot). Aloha!
Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 08, 2010:
I loved the Five Neurobic Exercises you chose. Number 5 is my favorite. I've been doing this when I mute the commercials on TV. Good fun! We also watch the non-English channels to try and pick up a few words in a foreign language. Good article.