Strengthen Your Brain
Friday, March 30 2012 4:29 AM
Just by being intentional, there are many everyday activities you can do to strengthen different parts of your brain and promote long-term cognitive fitness. A few examples include:
- Use an “old fashioned” paper map to find a location, versus using a GPS (global positioning system) device.
- Do math by adding items up in your head or on a piece of scrap paper instead of using a calculator.
- Try learning how to complete some projects or repairs around the house, versus hiring someone to do it.
- Prepare new recipes or meals.
- Play games that require strategy and retrieval of information from your memory, in person or online, such as Scrabble, Words with Friends, chess or card games.
- When waiting in lines, try spelling the names of places backward or memorizing friends’ phone numbers.
- Take an exercise class such as Zumba or yoga.
Here’s how some of these activities engage different parts of the brain:
- Preparing an unfamiliar meal engages the frontal lobe of the brain because it requires paying attention, planning, using judgment, following instructions and coordinating the order and timing of steps.
- Undertaking a home project such as repairing a broken sink or finishing off an unfinished basement also engages the frontal lobe, as well as the cerebellum, which is responsible for balance and physical movement.
- Participating in an exercise class engages the parietal lobe of the brain, since it requires a person to utilize spatial awareness and receive and process information about movement that is coming from the rest of the body.
- Spelling the names of places backward and memorizing phone numbers engages the temporal lobes, which are responsible for processing language functions.
Many of these everyday activities may challenge you not only intellectually, but in other ways as well. That’s good, because brain fitness is dependent on other factors, too, such as interacting socially, managing stress, maintaining good nutrition and physically exercising. These all support overall well-being, which is vital to creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in which cognitive health can thrive.
Since cognitive fitness is life-long, remember that it is never too late to begin to strengthen your brain.
By Michelle Kutner, CSW, MSW, CTRS
Specialty Service Consultant
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