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What can I do to give my brain a workout?

In a way, your brain is like a muscle -- the more you use it, the stronger it gets! Don’t stop challenging your brain and learning on a daily basis. Be a perpetual student of life. Take continuing education classes, or get a college degree. Learn to be a gourmet cook, discover fly fishing, write your memoir, study about the brain! The world is endlessly fascinating for those who never stop learning, and it helps your brain thrive. Play online brain games. Set aside three or four ten-minute sessions a week to play a variety of brain games on your computer. It’s like circuit training for your mind! Do something different and outside the box. Try a new sport. Whip up a new recipe. Take a new route home. Mix up your life, as variety is not only the spice of life, it helps grow new neurons in your brain! Look at every-day activities, such as family time or how you do an activity at work, in new and different ways. Doing so will boost your brain’s flexibility and creativity centers. Memorize a list: associate each item with the craziest picture you can think of to help your brain recall it later. No one sees the image you are holding in the privacy of you mind, so be creative and have fun with it. Practice remembering names; repeat the name, use it once or twice in natural conversation, visualize the name as a picture (perhaps on the person’s forehead), and use their name when saying good-bye. Practice “curious listening” skills. Notice not just what someone says, but also take note of their body language and tone. Ask follow up questions. Pretend you are a journalist, deeply intrigued with their story and the stories behind their story. Enjoy leisure activities that also keep you thinking.  A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments and dancing were among the best leisure activities for keeping your brain young. Try increasing your reading speed by using the simple method of following sentences with your finger, a pencil or your mouse curser. Turn your car into a university on wheels. Purchase, download, or borrow audiobooks on a variety of subjects that pique your interest. Download podcasts from great teachers whom you’d admire. You’ll turn boring drive times into classrooms of fascinating knowledge.
Learning a new language or musical instrument can be critically important for brain function and can also create multiple areas of the brain. So much information is synthesized and brought together when you’re learning a new language or instrument. Learning a new language represents symbology, and you’re learning that words and letters have meaning, which enhances brain function.

There is also a big benefit to learning a new musical instrument. You gain translatable skills, and many people who learn new instruments improve their math and reading skills. Remember, easier is not always better. Obviously someone who has read music before will be better at learning a new instrument. The more challenging something is, the better it is for your brain. Try something that will actually be more difficult. So, if if you have never touched a piano, learning it will be huge, challenging, and good.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.