According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a mere hour per day of mental exercise is enough to keep memory active and the mind sharp. An hour seems like a long time, but if you break it up into 20 minute brain breaks during the day, or engage your caree and do the exercises together, it doesn’t seem too challenging.
Here are some mental challenges they recommend. You have nothing to lose and mental sharpness to gain.
Engage the Body:
One surefire way to stay sharp is to get moving. A daily 20-minute walk improves memory skills and concentration and abstract reasoning. This is a great activity to do with your caree. Everyone needs a little exercise and fresh air. Even if they are wheelchair-bound, the change of scenery will be good for them.
Challenge your brain by learning something new every day. Even something small will help. Here are some ideas:
- Word of the day: Get a word of the day calendar or even randomly pick a new word out of the dictionary every day.
- Research something new: Have you ever wanted to learn more about French impressionists or a new language? Thanks to the internet, you can endlessly research any topic. You can also make a trip to the library to pick up books on your new favorite topic.
Engage in a New Activity:
Learning a hands-on activity will engage the sense of touch, along with mental challenges. If you have always wanted to do pottery or crochet, now is the time to pick them up.
Play board or computer computers, puzzles, or group games including Bingo. Regular games of Bingo help keep brains sharp, according to the Franklin Institute. Even if you don’t have anyone to play with, technology makes it possible to play games like Chess against the computer.
Read books, newspapers or magazines on any subject that interests you.
Challenge yourself by recalling the information you read by relaying it to someone you know. I am a huge bookworm. I read 2-4 books a month, depending on how busy I am. If you need a push to read more, join or create a book club. Many libraries have book clubs, or you can reach out to friends and acquaintances to start one. I have been in a book club for the last three years with moms from my son’s former preschool. It is a great way for us to regularly see each other since we don’t all have kids at the same school and we get to read a variety of books, depending on who picked it for the month.
Try Something Different:
Slightly change the way you perform a daily activity, in order to engage the senses. If you always start at the produce section when you grocery shop, start on the opposite side of the store. If you walk on the same path every day, take a different route. You are likely doing these activities without even thinking, so this helps you engage your brain.
You can also check out my tricks to keep your memory sharp for brain games and activities to keep your mind sharp.