We always talk about exercising, it’s everywhere, but why do we neglect the most important muscle – our brain?
Brain exercises can benefit your mental health and fitness at the same time. By training your brain, you’re letting it work harder. By testing yourself, you’re strengthening your cognitive abilities and memory function.
Although brain training apps and games are everywhere at the minute, they’re not particularly good at training your brain or improving your memory.
Instead, these games just help you to be better at… games. And that’s about it.
In fact, in one study published in the medical journal PLOS Medicine in 2014, Australian researchers reviewed 52 different studies on computerised cognitive training. They found that the games were not particularly effective at improving cognitive performance.
There have been quite a few studies on real-world techniques that can improve brain and memory function, and the best are often found to be techniques that utilise more than one sense.
Activities that trigger more than one sense are more likely to trigger memory, and therefore help improve your memory overall.
Therefore, you should look at doing activities that include more than one sense to truly improve your memory.
These days, we tend to look up recipes when we cook. However, see if you can memorise a recipe whilst cooking. Cooking uses various different senses; touch, smell, taste and sight, so can be a good way to revitalise your memory.
If you’re already a regular chef, try to use different and unfamiliar ingredients in your cooking. This will force you to really pay attention to what it is that you’re cooking, improving both your memory and attention.
Doing simple activities backwards can really stimulate your brain into thinking long and hard about everyday activities, forcing your brain to work harder.
An easy way to do this is to wear your watch upside down. That way you force yourself to really think each time you look at your watch. Once you’ve mastered that, try walking backwards, either through the park or on a treadmill. Make sure that you go slowly, however, so that you don’t injure yourself.
Mindfulness can also help increase memory capacity, especially in those who are in stressful situations. Consider using mindfulness-based techniques, such as guided meditation, in order to help improve memory and cognitive function.
If you’re an avid reader, why not experiment with listening to audiobooks? Speakers with music streaming services – such as Echo or Sonos – can read books aloud through many audiobook services.
Listening to audiobooks engages your brain in a totally different way, as different parts are engaged when a word is read than when a word is heard.
This is a favourite amongst doctors, as gardening can really improve memory due to the variety of senses used. Touch, sight and smell can all be used when gardening (and even taste, if you’re brave!)
Fine-motor skills Working on your fine motor skills also vastly improve your memory and cognitive abilities. Activities such as knitting, painting, drawing and working on puzzles can all really help improve your memory, as they rely heavily on both sight and touch. By working on these skills, you’ll be able to improve your memory capacity and lead a longer, happier life.