Nowadays, a lot of people are obsessed with a healthy lifestyle. They eat wholesome food, workout at the gym, and all that jazz.
But they tend to forget that our brain needs exercise too. Especially if you've started having memory lapses more often.
Um, what did I just say? Oh yeah. So, if people keep saying you have the memory of a goldfish, don't fret! Just try these simple brain exercises to help you out.
1. Read books aloud
In 2017, the University of Waterloo conducted an experiment where they asked 95 participants to read silently, listen to someone else read, listen to a recording of themselves reading, and read out loud in real-time.
Later, participants were required to repeat the words they read. It turned out, the word recall was greatest in the group that read aloud to themselves.
When you speak and hear yourself speaking at the same time, it helps the brain to store the information.
You can practice this exercise with your friend or child. Also, you can try to switch to audiobooks.
Listening to them engages the imagination and brain regions in a different way than silent reading.
2. Switch hands during daily activities.
Only 1% of the world population doesn't have a dominant hand. Everyone else uses either the right one or left one to write, cut food, paint, and so on.
But if you try to switch to your “other hand”, it’ll strengthen neural connections in your brain, making your mind and memory sharper.
Use your opposite hand while brushing your teeth, cleaning, or washing the dishes.
But, hey, please don’t try this exercise while you’re driving, or doing brain surgery!
It might seem really hard the first time you do it, but it’ll give your brain the perfect kind of stimulation by adjusting. Just keep practicing this exercise regularly!
3. Elevate your heart rate 3 times a week.
Regular aerobic exercise may increase the size of the hippocampus—no, that’s not the University of Hippo –it’s the part of the brain responsible for transforming information into new memories.
A study published in 2011 backs up the idea about the positive impact working out has on our memory.
According to it, aerobic exercises that pump up your heart rate help the brain store long-term memories.
But even if breaking a sweat at the gym isn’t exactly your thing, you can just take a brisk walk for 20 minutes, 3 times a week, and still get the same effect!
4. Eat with chopsticks.
It’s one of the most effective ways to make your brain perform better. And here’s how it works: using chopsticks grows new dendrites, which are extensions of nerve cells.
They help to transmit impulses from cell to cell. This means that these dendrites have a positive impact on communication between brain cells.
What’s more, involving the concentrated areas of nerve cells at your fingertips in this activity boosts the circulation in the brain.
And, as a bonus, switching to chopsticks improves your digestion and helps control calorie intake. Because it’s so hard!
5. Wear earplugs.
Blocking a major sensory route by wearing plugs helps revive the way our brain functions.
Because when we go about our day, we only half-listen, since we know what to expect.
Experiencing the world without sound is a great booster for our cognitive abilities, including memory.
You can try this technique, for example, during a family breakfast. But don’t forget to warn your family about it, or they’ll think you’ve decided to ignore them for no reason. Huh?
6. Create word pictures and puzzles.
This is hands down, the easiest exercise that you can perform anywhere.
Think of any word you like and visualize its spelling in your head. After you’re done with this task, try to come up with any other words (as many as you can) that begin or end with the same 2 letters of your first word. .
This kind of mind game challenges your brain to stay active and sharp.
7. Do the 4 detail observation exercise.
This is what scientists call “passive memory training.” You can practice it while you’re out and about.
All you have to do is observe any 4 details about someone you encounter during the day and then recall them later.
Let’s say, the barista who made your coffee. He or she could have had deep dark hair, a gold watch, a beauty spot on their right cheek, and a yellow t-shirt on.
Start with noticing these little details on just one person a day, and gradually increase that number, or add more details to remember.
The thing is, while we go about our day, we don’t observe as much as we should, failing to receive information.
Besides, being more observant of the people who surround you is a great social skill.
8. Blast some tunes
If you have to cram for an exam or read and remember some stuff that’s related to your work, you’d better do it with pleasant background music.
Listening to music helps our brain to retain information. It’s best to make a playlist with some instrumental melodies you like since songs with lyrics might hinder the process of remembering.
If you’re a real fan of music, consider learning to play an instrument. This kind of activity not only enhances your memory, but also helps relieve stress, and makes you smarter!
9. Clench your fist
It’s as simple as that! In 2013, psychologists from Montclair State University carried out an experiment.
Their findings suggest that clenching the right hand for 90 seconds helps in memory formation.
If you do the same with your left hand it can improve your memory recall. In the mentioned experiment, 50 adults were asked to remember words from a long list.
The word recall was higher for those participants who carried out these movements.
The researchers believe that clenching a fist triggers specific brain regions responsible for memory processing.
Remember how you sometimes started to sketch during a school lesson? Turns out, doing this helps you store the information you hear! And in 2009, researchers from Cambridge decided to prove it.
A group of 40 participants was asked to listen to a recorded tape that described a short story about a party.
Also, half of the participants were told to doodle whatever they wanted on a piece of paper while listening to the tape.
After the listening was over, all 40 members of the experiment had to remember the names of people and places mentioned in the story.
The doodlers recalled 29% more information than those who didn’t draw. Researchers explained these results by the fact that when we listen to something, we tend to daydream, and daydreaming distracts us from grasping the information.
A simple task, like doodling, is efficient enough to stop the daydreaming, making us more perceptive of audial information.
11. Have a good laugh.
Ah, this is my favorite one! If you keep forgetting where you’ve put your keys or phone, maybe all you need is a short giggle sesh.
At least, this is what the results of a 2012 experiment carried out at Loma Linda University suggest.
Researchers had two groups of participants, with an average age of 74.
The first group had to watch a 20-minute comedy; the other one – humorless video.
Laughter helps lower levels of cortisol - the stress hormone which can have a negative impact on the University of Hippocampus. Heh heh.
And as I’ve already told you, this part of the brain plays an important role in the process of retaining information.
That’s why the first group in that experiment showed significantly better results in delayed recall and visual recognition later.
So, never miss an opportunity to giggle! If you learned something new today, then please upvote this post and share it with a friend.