Need a little bit of mental exercise? There are four types
of brain exercise described below, and any of them has some potential
to increase your brainpower. Doing more than one type, of course,
is perhaps the surest way to benefit. Here, then, are the four
types with examples.
1. Physical Exercise
Any aerobic exercise is also a brain exercise. The research
clearly shows that exercise immediately boosts brain function.
Ten minutes of walking, swimming, or pedaling on an exercise
machine is enough for this effect. The research also shows a
long term increase in circulation and oxygen-carrying capacity
from physical exercise, which results in better brain health.
Here are a couple simple guidelines to remember: Ten minutes
of any aerobic exercise for a quick boost of brainpower; Twenty
minutes three times weekly for long term health of body and brain.
2. Exercises Involving Coordination
Some research suggests that activities involving hand-eye
coordination is especially good for the growth of new neurons
in the brain. These activities include playing ping-pong, tennis,
running an obstacle course, and playing a piano. Video games
- when played in moderation - are also likely to be beneficial.
3. Basic Brain Exercise
The most basic type of mental workout is doing puzzles, solving
riddles, and such. Something as simple as doing a daily crossword
puzzle has been shown to delay the onset of age-related mental
decline, for example. Doing math equations certainly is good
brain exercise. Games that involve some thought are included
in this category, for example dominoes, chess, checkers, and
many card games.
4. Brain/Mind Exercise
Deeper thinking works on brain structure, but also develops
that which is beyond mere brainpower. Here we get into meaning
and understanding and higher functions. Exercises of this type
include things like creative problem solving, purposely challenging
ones beliefs (at least intellectually), and finding new
perspectives from which to understand things. Routinely asking
the question "why?" of the world around you - and actually
exploring possible answers - is another example of this type
of mental exercise (it is really more of a mind exercise, but
both brain and mind will benefit).