When we think of exercise, we think of it as it pertains to the body. With neurological diseases on the rise, and becoming more prevalent in younger generations, it is important to incorporate some sort of mental fitness into your lifestyle as well, preferably most days of the week. Our brain is the most active organ in the body. Even while you sleep, it never stops working, regulating, firing off its little synapses to keep you alive. It is our storage facility. It is where we first calculate and contemplate every action milliseconds, or hours, before we perform it.
There are a lot of people out there suggest that one form of mental exercise is better than another. They may be right. I’m no neurosurgeon. I am, however, participating in National Novel Writing Month this November. 30 days to write 50,000 words requires me to stretch my mind. It is fascinating what the human mind can do when it gets tired. In my opinion, when you begin to let the brain have control, things get better. (I learned this in dance choreography class my senior year. It’s pretty neat what your body can do when you let it move and your focus relax.)
There are a lot of ways to exercise your brain. Many of them don’t require gobs of time. I also study language regularly. The great thing about language is that you’re learning something about your own in the process. (I believe that it doesn’t matter what language you study. If you grasp its basics, you begin to see the basics of your native tongue too.) I spend anywhere from 15-45 minutes most days a week studying. Another great thing: you don’t have to do that all at once.
Not interested in language? How about taking up a creative art? Doing a puzzle? Solving a crossword? Have a smart phone? Download some mind games. I have one called Unblock Me (free version). Words with Friends, Scrabble for your phone, is another great one as it gets you and a friend involved in a battle of brains (if you don’t cheat, that is).
Maybe you’re not word-inclined. Take up a mechanical project. My husband spends hours perusing the web to learn what he needs to do for his next truck project, and hours more tinkering with his favorite toy until he gets it right. (It can be a bit annoying, really, but it’s a great way for him to stay occupied.) He also likes to build computers, and even designed a program once, so maybe that is your cup of tea.
Whatever it is, get the juices flowing. I remarked the other day we are at a great disadvantage in the technological age because we cannot seem to recall anything without the aid of a smart phone, electric schedule, or what not. How different this is from centuries past when the illiterate had nothing but their memory to recall things–whole speeches, even! It is great to be able to tickle some keys and find out what we need on the World Wide Web. However, the more we do this, the less we actually work our gray matter. To me, recollection has become second place to technology, and that is sad. Our brain is the first computer. Use it.
PS: if you want to boost your brain power, try less sugar and more turmeric. While sugar has been proven to inhibit normal brain function, turmeric has been proven to prevent/reduce the effects of brain degeneration. Alzheimer’s is almost non-existent in India and places where people consume large quantities of the spice.
Here is a link to Wikipedia and what it has to say on brain exercises: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_exercises