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Ten Ways to Exercise the Mind

We’ve all heard the adage “use it or lose it”. It is typically used in a casual or joking manner, but when it comes to mental health, these words ring true. Studies show that challenging your mind on a daily basis increases brain function. After spending most of your adult life at school and work, your retirement years can lack the degree of mental stimulation that your brain is used to receiving.

Thankfully, there are some fun and simple ways to continue to challenge your brain well after retirement. Here are ten of our favorite ways to keep your brain active:

  1. Take a walk.
    Light exercise is good for the body and the mind. Any scenic walk route should provide plenty of mental stimulation. Be sure to observe the flora and fauna that you see along the way, and try to notice the environmental differences between each walk.
  2. Play video games.
    Video games are not just for kids. There are a vast and growing number of games targeted directly at adults and seniors. Whether you’re playing them on a game console, tablet, computer or phone, video games can improve your reaction time and decision-making skills, and also help to alleviate stress.
  3. Listen to music.
    Memorizing the words to a song is one of the easiest ways to exercise your memory and help keep it sharp. While you’re at it, go ahead and sing along!
  4. Solve puzzles.
    Puzzles are a great way to challenge your mind. Try to complete a daily crossword puzzle, word search, or Sudoku table. Whichever you prefer, puzzles will challenge you and improve your problem-solving skills. Group puzzles are also a great way to spend time with your friends and loved ones.
  5. Read often.
    Read a variety of materials, including books, magazines, newspapers and even online news. This will challenge your brain’s ability to recognize and understand words and phrases. Try to read outside of your comfort zone on occasion. Reading new words or topics can help expand your vocabulary and keep your mind fresh.
  6. Meditate.
    Meditating can relax you to a calmer state and help you reset your brain for better thinking afterward. Set aside some time each day and find a comfortable, quiet place to meditate. Breathe deeply and try to free your mind of concerns.
  7. Don’t skip breakfast.
    OK, this is not really an exercise, but eating a healthy, balanced breakfast provides your brain with the nutrients it needs to function at its best each day. Try a bowl of oatmeal with fruit, or perhaps some scrambled eggs with toast – both will help you start the day off the right way.
  8. Learn something new.
    Take a class at your local community college or research a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about. The act of learning positively affects brain plasticity, which changes the neural pathways in the brain. This helps your brain adapt to new information and remember things you already know.
  9. Do math problems.
    Having skills in mathematics is useful for virtually every aspect of your life. Doing math daily also improves your brain’s ability to recognize patterns and relationships.
  10. Write or draw something.
    The act of putting pen to paper, or brush to canvas, refines your motor skills and allows your mind to think creatively.

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