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How to Exercise Your Brain

Six Parts:Enhancing your thinking and word skillsPlaying games for better brainsChallenging yourselfSocializing moreMaking learning lifelongKeeping healthy

Whether you're trying to get your brain back into shape or you just want to keep it as strong as it is now, it's not only easy to train your brain but it's now considered a part of what makes aging a lot more graceful and less forgetful. Get that gray matter up off your skull-couch and get to work with wikiHow!

Part 1
Enhancing your thinking and word skills

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    Read as much as you can. Reading is great basic brain exercise. You can read newspapers, magazines or books but just keep in mind that the more challenging the text is, the more of a workout your brain will get. Like any exercise, start small and work your way up.
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    Increase your vocabulary. Learn new words from a word-a-day calendar or dictionary. This exercises the language portion of your brain.
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    Write something. Writing requires loads of thinking! You can write made-up stories, write down the things that have happened to you or write articles for wikiHow on the topics you know and love!
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    Learn a new language. Learning a language is like a hack for your brain, opening up all sorts of pathways. This exercises the part of your brain that stores language information, even making you better at speaking your own language. [1]
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    Post-problem solve. Consider the different possibilities of how something in your day could have gone, and explore the consequences. This improves creativity and makes you a better problem solver.
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    Turn off the television. Television tells you what to think and how to think it, basically putting your brain on autopilot. That's why it's so relaxing! If you want to keep your brain from stagnating, the first thing you have to do is turn off the TV. If you really want to watch, use your brain while you watch. Choose to watch educational programs and if you watch popular programs, choose ones with complex plot lines or character interactions. Think about these while you watch and try to analyze them or guess what happens next.

Part 2
Playing games for better brains

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    Do daily crosswords and puzzles. Simple puzzles like crosswords can help your brain do some basic work. These are easy to fit into your day. You can even find some for free online.
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    Progress to more involved puzzles. Large, complex puzzles give your brain a stronger workout. These can sometimes take several days to a week to finish but they're worth the effort. This doesn't just mean a puzzle in the traditional sense, either. Check out Japanese pocket puzzles for a serious brain teaser that you can do while you're killing time.
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    Consider playing chess. Chess is an incredibly strategic as well as a tactical game. Few puzzles surpass chess in working out your brain. Chess is simple to learn and easy to play.
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    Play video games. Did you know that video games actually make you smarter? Puzzle solving games like Mario, Zelda, Scribblenauts, and Myst are like a good cardio workout for your brain, helping you to become a better problem solver, a more creative problem solver, and a faster thinker.[2]

Part 3
Challenging yourself

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    Switch your dominant hand. Use your left hand if you are right handed, and reverse, to stimulate the parts of your brain that control your muscles.
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    Play a musical instrument or fiddle with a Rubik's cube. Over 100,000 years, the human brain has evolved to tune itself through both making and using tools. By doing things that are similar to using tools, you help to fine tune your brain and keep it humming along nicely. For example, playing the violin or doing the Rubik's cube have things in common with making and using tools. All require the use of gross motor skills, fine motor skills and sequences to operation and identification of things. Therefore, doing such activities daily or twice a day, should help to keep your brain in great shape.

Part 4
Socializing more

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    Talk with people. Talk with people about things you or they know about. Talking about politics, religion, and other challenging topics (having real discussions, not just arguments), can be a great basic brain workout.
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    Join an interest group. Join a group or club for people with the same interests as you. This can be a hobby club, a political group, a discussion group, or anything like that. Talking with people with similar interests will get you using your brain and your skills.

Part 5
Making learning lifelong

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    Go back to school. Going back to school is a great way to get that brain working again and more education has obvious benefits. You don't even need to get a whole degree. Your employer may be willing to help you finance classes that further your job skills, or you can just take a single class in a subject that interests you.
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    Take free classes. If you just don't have the money or time, there are also a number of free classes available online. Some are even from top universities, like Harvard. Try Coursera, Khan Academy, or even just Ted Talks to get the university experience, without the price.
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    Use skills you have already gained frequently. With your brain, much like your muscles, it's kind of a "use it or lose it" situation. The longer you go without using information and skills, the rustier they get. Frequently use basic skills, like doing math, in order to keep those skills fresh and ready to use.
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    Pick up a new hobby. Learning a new skill is also a great way to give your brain a workout. Creative skills especially, like music, dance, and visual art, will exercise different parts of your brain and all have incredible benefits.
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    Build things. Whether you're building robots or a new bench for your hallway, using your brain to figure out how to make something (especially from scratch with no instructions) is a great workout. Get some basic building skills and then get your brain limber with some practical creativity.

Part 6
Keeping healthy

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    Eat well and exercise. Diet and exercise actually play a role in the health of your brain as well. If you want to keep your brain in peak condition, eat a healthy diet rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids to keep your brain physically fed. Physical exercise can also keep your body healthy, reducing the chance of stroke and increasing oxygen saturation levels.
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    Play sports. Learn exercises or how to play new games to increase your hand-eye and body coordination. Tai-chi and pinball are both examples of this.
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    Sleep well. Scientists are actually discovering that sleep plays an absolutely vital role in keeping your brain healthy. While you sleep, your body cleans toxins out of your brain (in addition to making repairs). [3] If you want to protect your brain, make sure you get a full night's sleep as regularly as possible.
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    Change up your routine. Try commuting with varied routes, to prevent the brain from feeling too neglected as the result of a monotonous day. You can also change how you work, by introducing an exercise ball or other factor into how you work.

Tips

  • When exercising, try to walk-backward (the reverse direction of the usual walking pattern) to tease the sphere of the brain.
  • Remember to exercise your body - a healthier mind results from a healthy body. Get plenty of physical exercise.
  • Try doing a few things regularly, like memorizing something each day, or using a Rubik's cube for 15 minutes a day.
  • There are plenty of programs out there that will help with your memory. "Brain Age" or "Big Brain Academy" for the Nintendo DS are recommended and fun. These games were specifically made for improving your memory, as well as promoting fast reflexes and quick thinking.
  • Like every other part of your body, the brain also requires rest. It never really shuts down, but focusing on a single point or meditation can actually help you relax your mind which can result in the slowing of your brain and later on better functionality. Listening to soft instrumental music with closed eyes for 10-15 mins a day usually helps.
  • The way you speak reflects the way you think, so think before you speak. This will help improve your speech.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • While doing anything, try not to follow the usual rules for it. Try it yourself and see if you can make your own rules.

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