Today we are bombarded with information from morning to night. There is so much noise from TV, social media, radio and even the internet that we often overlook the quieter activities that have a huge impact on our mental fitness – our brain.

Fortunately, the human brain is one of the most adaptive and responsive organs in the body. It will soak up new challenges like a sponge and continue to evolve throughout your life. But for this to happen, special attention must be paid to it.

There are many things you can do to keep your brain active – anything from reading books to playing games will do wonders for your memory, problem-solving skills, concentration abilities and more.

Read on to find out about some different ways you can train your brain.

Brain exercises to improve your mental fitness

There are several approaches to exercising the brain:

1. Develop a consistent daily routine

If you’re looking for the one thing that will have the biggest impact on your brain health, it’s a routine.

A daily routine of consistent brain activity will benefit you more than anything else. This means having a schedule where you dedicate a certain amount of time to your favorite brain exercises every day. You should start small – even just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference.

Then make sure you use the time wisely by focusing on exercises that stretch your mind in new ways. For example, reading a novel or listening to an audiobook that you wouldn’t normally prefer will help you improve your vocabulary and understanding of different writing styles.

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2. Read books

You may have heard this advice a hundred times before, but don’t ignore it. Reading is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to exercise your brain. It is also a proven method to improve your memory, concentration and problem solving skills.

There are many different genres to choose from – so you can stretch your brain in different ways. For example, a novel with a lot of descriptive language will help you improve your vocabulary, while a science fiction or fantasy book will test your understanding of new worlds.

Reading also gives you the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds in the world. You can read biographies of successful people in any industry or read the works of philosophers, poets and writers – it’s up to you!

Personally, I prefer audiobooks and usually speed them up to 1.5x to consume the content faster and inevitably consume more books overall. I didn’t start at 1.5x speed, but rather started at 1.25x and worked my way up to 1.75x speed for certain books and stories.

If there’s one life hack I can offer book and audiobook lovers, it’s to learn to speed up the rate at which they consume information. There is a wealth of information ready for consumption, but it is severely limited by time.

3. Learn a new language

Learning a new language can have huge benefits for your brain. This will expand your mind in new ways as you try to grasp the different rules and patterns of the language. It will also challenge you to expand your vocabulary and improve your memory.

If you want to get the most out of learning a new language, try doing it with a friend. Working with a partner will help you stay motivated and push you forward. It’s also a great way to build new friendships and share ideas and tips with others who are also learning.

You may not be able to speak the language fluently right away, but don’t let that hold you back. Consistency is key and working towards a goal is a great way to keep your brain active and engaged. And once you learn the basics, you can always go ahead and improve your skills even more.

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Many years ago I traveled to the Spanish speaking countries of Cuba and Mexico several times. I was also dating a Latin American girl and took a keen interest in learning Spanish. Aside from learning a few words here or there, I took to Spanish lessons and listened to translation audiobooks while I slept.

Another life hack I suggest is to try listening to audiobooks or reading right before bed, and you can certainly listen to audiobooks during the early stages of your sleep cycle. Many audiobook apps will let you set a timer, or you can set one with the phone itself that will stop the book from playing after a certain amount of time.

When you sleep, your brain goes through a process called “consolidation,” where it transfers information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Studies have shown that language learners who listened to language tapes while sleeping were able to remember newly learned words better than those who did not. This was actually the case for me and I would wake up the next day understanding a little more Spanish than the night before.

Full disclosure, I haven’t traveled to Latin American countries in many years, I’m no longer with a Latin American husband, and thus I’ve gradually stopped practicing Spanish.

4. Play games

You probably associate games with childhood, but games are great for your brain. They are a fun and interactive way to exercise your brain and can improve your memory, problem-solving skills and attention. You can even play games designed specifically to improve your mental health.

There are many different games that will benefit your brain – both traditional board games and modern video games. You can also challenge yourself to learn a new skill-based game, such as chess or Go, which has a reputation for improving problem-solving skills.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to exercise your brain, games are a great choice. They are accessible, cheap and can be played almost anywhere – from the bus on the way to work to your phone during a short break.

Some video games can also help brain development. Personally, I prefer real-time strategy (RTS) games, which are a subgenre of strategy video games that don’t progress gradually in ranks, but allow all players to play simultaneously. Examples of this include Defense of the Ancients (DoTA) and League of Legends (LoL) – which are two of the most popular games in the world today and have been for a decade. They require quick decision-making and multiple actions in a short period of time.

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For example, it is not uncommon for a player to have over 1000 actions (clicks or keystrokes) within an hour in a typical DoTA or LoL game. APM is an acronym for actions per minute. It basically refers to the number of your clicks and keystrokes per minute. Many professional gamers take these types of insights into account when examining their gaming abilities.

5. Exercise your mind with puzzles and tests

Puzzles and quizzes are great ways to exercise your brain and test your knowledge at the same time. You can try different types of puzzles like crosswords, sudoku, word search and number puzzles. They are great for improving your attention and problem solving skills.

There are also many books with puzzles and quizzes that can test your knowledge on various subjects. You may want to try a general knowledge book to improve your general knowledge or a general science facts book to improve your science knowledge.

Quizzes are also a great way to test your knowledge. You can challenge yourself with general knowledge tests or find tests on specific topics to improve your knowledge on those topics.

When I was very young, I watched my grandmother put together huge jigsaw puzzles that were spread across the dining room table in her home. When I look back on those days with this newfound understanding of brain science, I can see that she (at the time) it kept your brain healthy and helped protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

As she got older, she slowly stopped playing puzzles and slowly developed Alzheimer’s and died. She stopped playing puzzles when her husband (my grandfather) died, and while I’m not saying correlation equals causation, the reduction in brain-building activities combined with the stress of her husband’s death certainly had major impact on her mental health.

6. Physical activity

You may have heard that brain exercises and physical activity are great for your mental health. But did you know that the opposite is also true? Physical activity is one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and can improve your thinking skills as you age.

There are many different forms of physical activity you can try to increase your brain power. You can try a new sport, join a gym, or go for a run or walk in your local park. You can even try dancing or yoga if that suits you better – it’s up to you!

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Physical activity has been shown to improve thinking skills and mental health because it releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These naturally occurring chemicals can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and give you a greater sense of well-being.

I have personally had some challenges over the past 3 years with consistent training. It started because I sold my last house and moved into a halfway house before moving into my new house. This resulted in my home gym being packed away in storage for months and after I moved into my new house I renovated my garage before putting the gym inside.

I’ve maintained memberships at various gyms throughout this time, but I haven’t attended them regularly. It wasn’t until this year that I started working out again regularly in my new home gym and also visiting outside gyms like Goodlife Fitness or Planet Fitness. Honestly, I find motivation to go to regular commercial gyms because I see people working on themselves and it feels like a kind of community. While it’s nothing like the powerlifting/Olympic lifting community I was a part of at Fortis Fitness in Toronto, I’ve moved too far from that dedicated gym to justify the drive (especially with my own dedicated gym at home).

In short, stay tuned to my Instagram page and YouTube channel as I’ll be uploading new lifestyle, health, fitness and wellness content next year.

Bottom row

Exercising your brain every day is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, everyone can benefit from challenging your mind and squeezing every last drop out of it. You don’t have to invest hours of your time – just a few minutes a day can make a big difference.

Best of all, most of these exercises are free, so there’s no excuse not to get started! Let me know how it goes or feel free to ask questions – DM or comment on any of my recent Instargam or YouTube posts.

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