Now, more than ever, there is a huge obsession with strength training. It is a great way to increase muscle strength, but that doesn’t mean you should obsess over strength and strength alone. Cardiovascular training and stretching are two other integral pillars of exercise, but one that is not typically discussed is mental training. You see, the brain is just like any other muscle, and training it will help it perform optimally.
You’ve heard of aerobics, but what about “neurobics?” Essentially aerobics for your neurons, neurobics is a method of brain training to increase brain capacity and improve memory. One author, Jim Kiwk, explains that if you don’t use your brain, you’ll lose it. Kiwk also states that there are easy ways to challenge your brain, and they don’t take too much time. Accelerate your learning capacity and enhance your brain with the following exercises.
Use Your Opposite Hand
Although some people are ambidextrous, most people tend to stick with their dominant hand for everyday tasks. Try to use your non-dominant hand to do simple tasks, such as brushing your teeth or eating, to activate a different part of the brain. You don’t have to think when you use your dominant hand because most things are muscle memory. If you switch things up to use your non-dominant hand, you have to use more brain power. Additionally, using your non-dominant hand forces you to be present. You direct your full focus on the activity or task at hand, so you know you are not distracted by anything else.
Turn Off Your GPS
There is no doubt that technology makes many things convenient, so much so that you don’t have to think about some things. Therein lies the problem! You want to flex your mental muscles from time to time, so Kiwk encourages you to refrain from looking up your destination on your device. Rely on your memory to get you where you need to go, provided you have a few extra minutes to recall mental directions and the destination is familiar. People lack confidence because they lack mental competence. You are capable of so much and probably know your way around better than you realize you do. Make the effort and use your brain, even if that means that your route ends up being a little longer.
Make Passive Activities Active
You have the ability to make any activity more mindful, even something as simple as watching TV. How often do you sit down to watch a show or movie and end up scrolling through social media or playing Candy Crush 10 minutes into your show/movie? You don’t have to mindlessly watch the movie just because you put your phone down, though. Envision yourself as a certain character from what you are watching. What would you do if you were in their situation and what can you learn from the character’s arc or journey? You can also practice this skill with other forms of entertainment. It may actually help you improve empathy and your ability to switch positions or characters in a narrative.
The takeaway from all this is that exercising your brain is much easier than you think it is. All you have to do is make small changes in everyday activities to make a positive impact on your cognition and memory. Practice some neurobics and you’ll feel stronger every time you do them!