Increase Your Brain Power this Winter with These Exercises

brain-boosting-appsWhen there’s a chill in the air, you may find yourself staying inside to avoid the frigid winter weather. There’s no reason to twiddle your thumbs and wonder what to do. This is a great opportunity to get a little exercise. Although you could do a few jumping jacks to get warm, and physical exercise is good for your brain, we’re talking about cognitive exercise.

Research suggests any activity that involves learning and/or thinking is favorable for brain health and can protect you from developing certain diseases. In fact, there is evidence that the more brain activities you do regularly and the more complex the cognitive stimulation those activities provide, the more likely you are to lower your risk of developing dementia.

So, let’s look at a few things you can do to give your gray matter a workout … all warm and snug in the comfort of your Lazy Boy.

Brain Fitness Programs

Although not the first site to offer brain training, Lumosity’s marketing campaigns made brain training a household word. Since then, many others have entered the brain training arena.

Sites offering brain training tools abound, and fortunately, many are free. Some, such as Lumosity, track your progress and provide assessments to help you gauge your cognitive fitness and improvements, plus, offer recommendations for games to help improve certain areas of cognitive function.

Below you’ll find three subscription sites and four free sites to get you started. We’ll start first with the subscription sites. These sites are better able to help you determine your cognitive function and offer you a path for improvement. They include:

  • Lumosity has offered brain training since 2005
  • CogniFit has been around since 1999
  • Posit Science has offered their brainHQ training since 2002

Next, we’ll look at the free sites. These sites don’t have the assessment tools and training recommendations that you’ll have with the paid sites, but they can still provide your brain an excellent workout. The key is choosing activities/games that challenge you and utilizing a variety of game types (games to challenge various cognitive skills such as memory, attention/focus, language, reasoning and visual-spatial). Free sites include:

Tests and Quizzes

Just as there are sites that provide brain training, there are also engaging apps you can download on your phone, tablet or computer. Some apps test your memory, as well as your general knowledge of a subject. No matter your interest, you’re sure to find an app or quiz on the internet that you’ll enjoy. Here are a few apps to get you started on the following subjects:

If these don’t interest you, use the search feature of the Google or Apple app store to find a quiz or game you think you’ll enjoy.

Puzzles

Whether you do puzzles the “old-fashioned” way with pen and paper or use technology to play on your computer, tablet or phone, a crossword or Sudoku puzzle still reigns supreme as a way to stretch your cognitive muscles. And, Sudoku has been endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association as a potential tool that can be used to stave off Alzheimer’s.

Other games similar to Sudoku that you might also enjoy are Kakuro and Hitori.

Learn a New Language

Even if you aren’t planning to visit another country, learning a new language is particularly beneficial to the brain. Bilingualism has been shown to be especially helpful in increasing analytical skills and cognitive function, as well as enabling the brain to multitask more efficiently.

Learning a new language will take time, but it is time well spent. Although it may seem like a daunting task, there are programs that can make it much easier. These include:

  • Duolingo is a free (with ads) language learning platform which includes a website and app, and a digital language proficiency assessment
  • Rosetta Stone is a well-known and award-winning language program that combines proven learning methods with speech recognition technology
  • Babbel is a language learning app and e-learning system with interactive online courses that combine effective education methods with state-of-the-art technology

Drawing

Whether you already know how to draw, want to improve your sketching skills or want to learn how to draw, all you need is paper and a pencil. Drawing is thought to boost positive brain chemicals, helping you feel better in the process. It’s also believed to increase neuron synapses, giving you more access to vivid memory.

Need a little help getting started? Here are some apps that will help you learn to draw better or help you to explore a new area of drawing:

  • How to Draw teaches you how to draw dozens of different objects and create amazing pictures
  • How to Draw 3D with Pencil contains step-by-step drawing tutorials to help you learn how to create realistic sketches
  • How to Draw Tattoo and Draw Tattoo will teach you how to draw a tattoo step-by-step. Great drawing exercises even if you don’t want a tattoo.
  • How to Draw Anime will help you learn to draw different kinds of anime characters, step by easy step
  • Learn how to draw cars or motorcycles step-by-step with these apps

If these don’t interest you, use the search feature of the Google or Apple app store to find a drawing app on a subject that interests you.

We, here at The Brielle, understand the importance of brain health. Our memory care programming’s mission is adapted specifically to help residents with memory impairments thrive. Contact us today to learn more.



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