10 Not So Popular Ways To Improve Your Brain Power
People start exercise regimens because they want to improve their body.
Be more toned and fit, perhaps even quicker and stronger – no matter what the goal, no one thinks you’re going to get there without exercise.
Your brain is much like your body – it needs exercise to stay fit.
If you want to maintain fast-firing neurons and the kind of quick thinking that kept you out of trouble in your younger years then you need to exercise your brain.
But how do you exercise your brain? Sure, you could do some math, or perhaps even read a book, but neither of these is for everyone.
Here are 10 unconventional ways you can keep your brain in shape:
1. Start Using Your Left Hand
Are you right handed? Ever considered switching it up for your brain’s sake? Psychology research demonstrates that using your non-dominant hand actually increases the development of new neural networks and increased brain activity (Squeeze a Ball With Your Left Hand to Increase Creativity).
Using a non-dominant hand to do daily tasks forces your brain to adapt to novel situations which are perfect opportunities for your brain to put itself to test and develop new ways of doing old tasks.
2. Start Using New Routes
Everyone has a routine. But did you know that your daily routine could actually be making you less intelligent?
Not necessarily dumb, of course, just less ready to adapt to new situations.
Research shows taking new routes to and from frequently traveled locations activates the hippocampus and results in increased brain activity.
This applies to driving, walking, or biking – really anything to break out of the mold and get going in a new direction does wonders for the brain (Recalling Routes around London: Activation of the Right Hippocampus in Taxi Drivers).
3. Learn and Master Something New
Are you starting to notice a trend here? If you do something out of the ordinary, your brain takes note and works hard to adapt to it.
Scientists call this sustained engagement, and they have found it does wonders for the brains of elderly patients but also those of younger people as well.
Undertaking anything new is daunting, but learning a new skill definitely gets increasingly taxing as you age.
You know the saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but really you probably should because those tricks help keep the poor guy’s mind sharp as a tack (The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults).
One popular thing many older adults undertake is learning a new language. Not only does learning a foreign language expand your travel options, but it also amps up your brain power.
People who study foreign languages often score well on cognitive tests and display an increased vocabulary over those who do not study a foreign language.
4. Stop the Multitasking
One theme of these tasks is something novel – but another emergent theme you might have noticed is the need to focus.
You can do yourself, and your brain, a world of good by not trying to do everything at once.
Multitasking is an awful thing that crawled out of the late nineties and early aughts that does nothing but generate a whole lot of mediocrity in as little time as possible.
It comes from the advent of Windows 95 making multiple program windows open at the same time a reality on home PCs.
For the first time, regular users could surf the Internet, type a document, and play some music. It was considered amazing and why people decided to adopt personal behaviors to mirror a computer is unknown but it stuck and it is a poison for your brain.
Stop doing a million things at once and focus, focus, focus. Science says you will be happier and more productive, and your brainpower will go up as a result (Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Multitask, According to an MIT Neuroscientist).
5. Ask Questions About the World Around You
Being inquisitive pays dividends for your brain as well. Whether asking for clarity or just exploring a new subject, questioning your environment forces your brain to interrogate the world around you.
Asking questions can help improve memory because the asker has engaged with the subject on a deeper level.
Also having an internal dialogue expands your brain power. Introspection and finding out more about the world around you can help you become a more insightful person as well as smarter.
Next time you’re looking for a novel way to build brain power, think about why you would want to do that in the first place (How can I improve concentration and memory?).
6. Limit the Time You Spend Watching TV
We’re all about themes with this article. You’ve probably noticed the theme of doing something new or the need to break the mold to build brain power.
You’ve also read about how you need to focus.
Now we’re introducing a third theme: be active. We don’t mean you need to exercise. Research has shown that passive activities, like watching TV, actually makes you stupider.
People who watch less tv score better on cognitive measures and retain information better.
So next time you think about Netflix binging the weekend away, save those precious neurons and do something else (The Impact of Television Viewing on Brain Structures: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analyses).
7. Improve Your Memory by Playing Memory Games
Retaining information is the cornerstone of an active mind, and doing something to help your memory will go a long way towards making that happen.
You could even try out this brain training game discussed in this research (Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory).
8. Lift Some Weights
Exercise improves not only your health but also your mental acuity. Pick up some free weights and build some neurons.
Yoga and other cardiovascular activities improve your brainpower as well (Weight training may boost brain power).
9. Sleep Well and Take Naps When Tired
Your brain can’t work well if you’re tired – everyone knows that. But I bet you didn’t know you could improve your cognitive abilities by getting some rest.
So if you want to be on top of your game tomorrow, try getting some sleep tonight (The Secret and Surprising Power of Naps).
10. Eat More Salmon
Research shows that salmon is a powerful brain food, and you might want to add some more of it to your diet if you’d like to stay sharp.
And what an easy way to get smarter. Next time you inhale that salmon sushi rolls just tell everyone, it’s OK, I’m getting smarter (Why is salmon good for your brain?).
Which one is your favorite tips? Leave a comment below!
I personally love the last tips, because you know, it’s easy and delicious!
About The Author:
Reza is the owner of Multipotens, a brain improvement website that focuses on brain improving products and books.