This article will address the best exercises for the brain to boost its efficiency of the brain. The article will discuss these exercises in detail. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.
The brain is responsible for everything that we do and hence since it is overworking so much, it needs to be taken care of too. We can exercise the brain to improve its daily functioning, and this becomes more and more essential as we get older. These tips are highlighted below.
What is the best exercise for the brain?
The techniques we discuss below are also called ‘brain exercises. The following are some ways in which we can get out brain working Again, at its most efficient levels:
- Solve jigsaw puzzles
- Play card games
- Improve your vocabulary
- Note down what you read
- Dance your heart out
- Keep your senses in check
- Learn new skills
- Do More Non-Dominant Hand Activities
- Learn a foreign language
Research has shown that the above-mentioned exercises help you hone your mental efficiency and improve your memory, concentration, and help you focus on everyday tasks easier to do. Let’s look at each of the techniques mentioned above in detail.
Solve Jigsaw Puzzles
Playing and solving jigsaw puzzles is an efficient way to sharpen and strengthen the brain. Research has established that jigsaw puzzles require people to use multiple cognitive abilities and it also plays a protector role in delaying visuospatial cognitive ageing (Fissler et al., 2017).
This is because solving jigsaw puzzles forces the brain to look at different pieces of the puzzle, and figure out whether they fit the larger picture and this ends up challenging the brain to work harder.
Play Card Games
Research conducted in 2015 has suggested that mental stimulation gained from playing card games can increase the volumes in the brain in several areas. The study showed that playing card games also improve one’s memory as well as critical thinking (Richard & Graham, 2015).
Improve Your Vocabulary
Improving your vocabulary does not only make you seem and sound smart, it also stimulates your brain. Research has shown that when we build our vocabulary, it activates several areas of the brain that are responsible for visual and auditory processing.
Dance Your Heart Out
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control have suggested that when people learn new dance moves it helps sharpen the processing speed and memory of the brain. Thus, when you dance your heart out, your brain is in turn grateful to you.
Keep Your Senses in Check
In 2015, research suggested that when we maximise the use of our senses, it helps in sharpening the brain. You can do this by following the 3-3-3 rule. The 3-3-3 rule is to look around you and name three things that you can see, three things that you can hear, and moving three parts of your body. This helps in reducing anxiety.
Learn New Skills
Learning something new is a great way to stimulate the prefrontal cortex. You could learn a new language, or an instrument, it is an even more effective way of enhancing the functioning of the prefrontal cortex than just playing games.
Learning new things forces your brain to get out of your comfort zone and assimilate the new information it is receiving together, thus activating the prefrontal cortex.
When you engage in newer and challenging activities, which helps in activating the brain. Try doing newer and unfamiliar activities that you may enjoy. These could include playing chess, gardening, learning new instruments, and playing quizzes.
If you are comfortable with an activity, switch it with something you are not proficient in. For instance, if you are comfortable with drawing then switch it to painting.
Doing more Non-dominant Hand Activities
Studies have shown that when we use our non-dominant hands in doing regular activities like brushing our teeth or polishing our shoes, it increases neural connectivity between cortical areas. This indicates that using our non-dominant hand can help our brain create new neural pathways for doing our regular tasks and thus make us smarter.
Apart from these techniques, developing a meaningful life that you find worth living is the best technique to keep your brain healthy, fast, and sharp.
Learn a Foreign Language
One way to get your brain working at its full potential is by challenging it to learn a new language, preferably a foreign language. In fact, learning a second or third language can even delay the onset of disorders such as dementia. Try picking up a new language, and try speaking in it and communicating in it, no matter how poor you may sound in it.
Can Eating Healthy Make the Brain Healthy?
There is a connection between the brain and the gut (Lerner et al., 2017). They are connected by neurotransmitters, around thousands of them, that send messages back and forth. This is why when we think about food, our mouth water, and good-tasting foods tend to trigger the release of dopamine.
Hence, when we change what we eat, it can improve our moods by having a significant effect on brain functions. Eating protein-rich diets, and more probiotics are recommended for healthier brain functioning.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body, also known as amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that the body needs in order to make all the proteins required. Some of the amino acids are made by the body, while others are acquired through different foods.
The important amino acid involved with dopamine production is called tyrosine. The body’s enzymes can turn tyrosine into dopamine, and hence, having enough tyrosine helps in increasing dopamine levels in the body (Lopez & Mohiuddin, 2022).
This in turn increases the brain’s functioning by increasing its motivation drive. This can be found naturally in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, dairy, soy, legumes, and eggs.
Research in rats has found that when rats consumed 50% of their calories from saturated fat, they had reduced levels of dopamine in the reward areas of their brain as compared to rats who consumed 50% of their calories from unsaturated fat.
Studies in older women have also found a link between high saturated fat intake and poor memory, and poor thinking ability in humans. These are the same effects as having lower levels of dopamine. Foods high in saturated fat include; butter, palm oil, coconut oil, and full-fat dairy.
Research has shown that the gut and the brain are closely linked. The gut is also called the second brain as it produces a large number of nerve cells that are also capable of producing neurotransmitters, including dopamine (Wall et al., 2014).
Hence eating more probiotics will keep your gut healthy, which in turn can increase the production of dopamine in your body, which in turn increases your brain speed.
This article addresses the best exercises for the brain to boost its efficiency of the brain. The article discusses these exercises in detail. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions: What is the best exercise for the brain?
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of calming your mind and orienting yourself in the present moment. It includes letting your thoughts float without any attachment or judgement.
How does Meditation help the brain?
Research has found that meditators have found about a 65% increase in their dopamine production, which helps them remain in a positive mood, and stay motivated, focused, and oriented. Research has shown that long-term meditation causes long-term changes in the structure of the brain. Meditation trains your brain to be focused on the present and helps you not get overly attached to your thoughts. Thus, this way, it improves your ability to create new pathways and change the existing neural pathways.
How does social connection help the brain?
Social connection soothes the brain and calms it down. It helps in increasing the efficiency of inhibitory responses. Thus, go out and spend time with your friends or family members. Talking to a friend, and connecting with your community helps the release of oxytocin which is essential for healthy growth. Thus, staying connected to others helps our brain to experience what it is wired for – social connection.
Hryhorczuk, C., Florea, M., Rodaros, D., Poirier, I., Daneault, C., Des Rosiers, C., Arvanitogiannis, A., Alquier, T., & Fulton, S. (2016). Dampened Mesolimbic Dopamine Function and Signaling by Saturated but not Monounsaturated Dietary Lipids. Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 41(3), 811–821. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2015.207
Lopez MJ, Mohiuddin SS. Biochemistry, Essential Amino Acids. [Updated 2022 Mar 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557845/
Okereke, O. I., Rosner, B. A., Kim, D. H., Kang, J. H., Cook, N. R., Manson, J. E., Buring, J. E., Willett, W. C., & Grodstein, F. (2012). Dietary fat types and 4-year cognitive change in community-dwelling older women. Annals of neurology, 72(1), 124–134. https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.23593
Wall R, Cryan JF, Ross RP, Fitzgerald GF, Dinan TG, Stanton C. Bacterial neuroactive compounds produced by psychobiotics. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:221-39. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_10. PMID: 24997036.