15 Mental Exercises to Keep Your Brain Sharp

February 9, 2016

Senior citizen doing a crossword

As we get older, our mental faculties begin to wane. To keep your mind active and stave off dementia and Alzheimer effects, Heritage Creek Assisted Living has compiled a list of 15 fun things you can do to exercise your brain and keep it sharp.

1. Memorize a daily list

Create a brand new list of 7 things every day and memorize it. Your list can consist of vegetables you like, films you've seen, relatives you haven't talked to in awhile, etc.

How to Start: Memorize this list of mental health exercises to enhance brain function.

2. Solve a small puzzle

Get a crossword, sudoku, or even just a puzzle and solve it. Solving a puzzle helps with mental dexterity and problem solving.

How to Start: Start with the USA Today Crossword Puzzle

3. Learn a foreign language

Memorizing a new way of speaking increases your vocabulary and also your problem solving skills. If you put together a sentence incorrectly, you may be conveying a thought that baffles your partner. Continuing to learn the language will mentally improve your brain fitness.

How to Start: DuoLingo helps turn learning a language into a fun and easy to do activity. It's free and easy to sign up.

4. Perform old skills with your opposite hand

Your motor skills will be improved by trying to do active routine tasks with your opposite hand. Instead of relying solely on your dominant hand, you will now have the ability to do more with your non-dominant hand.

How to Start: Brush your teeth with your opposite hand.

5. Learn an instrument

Fine motor skills, mental dexterity, and memory are all improved in the mind when you learn how to play a brand new instrument.

How to Start: There are a lot of online apps that can help you learn to play the piano. Look through the list and find which one is best for you.

6. Pay with exact change

Instead of using a debit card or plain dollar bills, pay using the exact amount of change. This increases mental dexterity by forcing you to do quick arithmetic.

How to Start: Buy a pack of gum at a gas station and count out the number of coins you need.

7. Play "5 Things"

5 things is an improv comedy game where you create an arbitrary list off the top of your head. It increases your ability to think quickly and creativity.

How to Start: Yell out "Five ways to improve your memory" and then list five completely random activities. The list does not have to be right; it just has to be a list.

8. Learn a new recipe (and memorize it)

Cooking a new dish is always wonderful, but cooking from memory is even more impressive. Brand new recipes enhance problem-solving techniques and memorizing them improves brain function.

How to Start: Look from a list of recipes and start cooking.

9. Have a conversation with a stranger every day

While you might not perceive it this way, having a conversation takes a bit of strategy and mental acuity. It also helps maintain your social life and gets you new friends (hopefully).

How to Start: Walk outside and tell the first person you see about the weather. While cliché, people often have opinions about the weather.

10. Navigate without a GPS

A GPS is a great way to get where you're going easily. However, using a map or even Google Maps before you start your trip can help improve memorization. Mentally navigate your way to your destination and exercise your cognitive health while thinking.

How to Start: Drive to a new restaurant tonight.

11. Download an app to challenge you

The internet is chock full of amazing new apps that create fun new exercises out of training your brain to have better cognitive abilities.

How to Start: Start with this list from DailyBurn and see what stands out to you.

12. Solve a riddle

Riddles require a tremendous amount of out of the box problem solving. It promotes creativity and keeps your mind sharp in a fun (if not a little frustrating) way.

How to Start: Use a website like Good Riddles Now to get daily riddles for your brain.

13. Magic eye painting

Magic eye paintings work out your eyesight and creativity by forcing you to focus on a hidden abstract object.

How to Start: While the Magic Eye website might be a bit old fashioned, it is still regularly updated with new images for you to figure out.

14. Memorize a new joke

Learning a new joke is fun and also gives you a brand new tool to impress at parties. The closer you can get to the original version of the joke, the better your memory will become.

How to Start: Reader's Digest refreshes their jokes regularly, providing new opportunities to read and get new material.

15. Exercise

The best workouts for your brain are real workouts. Oxygen gets where it needs to go, blood flow increases, and overall health is improved. People mentally improve through enhanced cognitive and mental fitness on a workout.

How to Start: Walk slowly up a large flight of stairs.

Have More Tips?

Let the staff at Heritage Creek Assisted Living know. Our team is always looking for ways to improve mental health among our residents as well as ourselves. If you live in the greater San Antonio area, contact us to learn more about our facility.

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