40 Daily Brain Training Exercises, Activities For Intelligene

40 daily brain training activities have been scientifically proven to strengthen the brain in various ways. These daily brain training exercises make you smarter, happier, and more likely to succeed.

Exercising your cognitive abilities will help to improve your memory, balance your moods and emotions, delay ageing, and make you a complete flipping genius (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it will improve your intelligence a bit).

In this list of daily brain training activities, we’ve included exercises in many different areas, including:

  • physical exercise
  • socialising
  • lifestyle
  • diet
  • spiritual techniques.

You do not have to use all these techniques. However, we do recommend that you incorporate at least a few methods from each list.

The best way to develop a healthy mind is through a holistic approach. That’s why we recommend including a variety of mental exercises, physical exercises, healthy foods, and games.

Also, be sure to choose some good hobbies. Take a look at this list of the benefits of hobbies.

I personally never knew hobbies were so important. So, read the link, and choose some hobbies to compliment the 40 tips below.

The 40 Best Daily Brain Training Exercises

 Cognitive  

  • In this section, a combination of ways to reduce cognitive impairment.

 

 

1.      Use computer exercises

Computers are making everything easy,  but they’re not necessarily the best thing for your intelligence. Use your head instead of a calculator and use your knowledge rather than a search engine.

Interestingly, studies show that computers make us more intelligent and less intelligent at the same time.

On the one hand, the average human has higher Fluid Intelligence than ever before (we are able to process information faster).

But then again, the average human now has an attention span of eight seconds. [1]

Moderation is probably the key. For those who work on computers, this means getting off the computer when you finish work and staying off.

2.      Puzzles and word games

There are many excellent free puzzles out there. From crossword to Sadoku, these puzzles offer an opportunity to exercise your brain. One great site is BrainBashers [2], which has lots of free puzzle games.

Interestingly, empirical studies on puzzles are inconclusive. In fact, many studies show that doing puzzled does not improve the brain at all. However,  millions of people complete puzzles every day and swear by them. So what gives? Perhaps by thinking through puzzles we are encouraging ourselves to use our brains for other, more beneficial things.

3.  Stop watching the news

Take an interest in the world around you. Use a good news source, an intelligent newspaper rather than a low-brow sensationalist one. But avoid the plethora of negative news stories.

In 1997 the University of Sussex researched the effects of various types of news stories when viewed on TV. The researchers tested how viewers emotionally responded to negative news stories. The results revealed that not only did watching negative news make viewers feel worse about the world in general, it also made viewers dwell on their own worries.

Turn off the news, or find neutral news sources that are not sensationalist.

  4: Reading

Research by Emory University highlights how the brain benefits by reading novels. [3]

Researchers discovered that when we are engrossed in a story, our neuron connections are enhanced. Fiction also develops empathy and imagination.

The sad fact is that 42% of college graduated will never read a book again after graduating according to Statistics Brain.

Researchers state that reading is one of the most interactive forms of entertainment. The brain is more engaged than, say, when we are watching TV. That’s one reason to quit TV and start reading instead.

5.  Video Games:

Here is where your mom was wrong. Video games are good for cognitive skills.

Scientists studied the effects of playing video games on the brain. The researchers [5] reviewed 116 scientific papers on the impact of video games. Speaking to the publication Frontiers In Neuroscience, researchers state:

“Video game use affects a variety of brain functions and, ultimately, results in behavioural changes and changes in cognitive performance… Improvements in bottom-up and top-down attention, optimization of attentional resources, integration between attentional and sensorimotor areas, and improvements in selective and peripheral visual attention have been featured in a large number of studies.”

Physical activities


You don’t necessarily need to go to to the gym five times a week to have a healthy brain. However, keeping a good level of general fitness will be of tremendous benefit to your mental health.

The University of British Columbia researched the effects of aerobic exercise on the brain and found that the hippocampus increases in size after doing aerobic exercise. This leads to improved verbal memory and learning. [6] Because of this, aerobic exercise helps stop dementia.

Aerobic exercise (cardio) is physical exercise in which the body uses aerobic metabolism for oxygen.

Physical Daily brain training activities to try:  

1. House Chores

House chores present a good bit of physical exercise. From shovelling the snow to vacuuming the house, these simple exercises get you moving and help maintain a good level of physical health. Make sure your heart rate is slightly raised while doing this, so that you are in the aerobic-zone.

2: Swimming improves cognitive functioning:

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise and doesn’t injure your muscles. Get in the pool and enjoy a good swim. Studies show that swimming boosts blood flow to the brain to improve cognitive functioning [7].

3: Running improves brain functioning:

Running is excellent cardiovascular exercise and helps get oxygen to your brain in a way similar to swimming. It has also been proven that running prevents depression.

4: Walking improves memory:

According to research by the University of Pittsburgh, a moderate amount of walking each day strengthens the cognitive functions and improves memory [8]

5. Try yoga

Yoga is fantastic for relaxation and helps stretch out your muscles and improve balance. It’s great for the brain, too. Alex Korb, Ph.D, is a researcher in neuroscience at UCLA. He has extensively studied how yoga affects the brain. His results show that practising yoga reduces stress and helps us to break out of old habits.

6. Tai Chi and Qigong:

Tai chi is a fantastic exercise for promoting inner calm and relaxation.

Studies show that tai chi (and its counterpart, QiGong):

  • Makes your brain bigger
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Reduces stress.

7. Dance:

Dancing is so beneficial for the brain that hospitals use dance to treat Parkinsons [9.]

Dancing is doubtlessly one of the best daily brin training activities. Daily dancing will literally revolutionize your neurons.

Studies show that dancing:

  • improves sensory and motor circuits
  • improves planning and control
  • improves hand-eye coordination
  • Improves mood
  • Boosts cognitive performance
  • Helps with Parkinson’s disease

8. Team sports:

Team sports offer a different kind of mental workout, combining physical exercise with socialising.

Benefits of team sports include:

  • improved concentration
  • improved mood
  • reduced stress
  • reduced depression
  • improved sleep
  • improved self-confidence
  • improved leadership skills

Learning

Learning new things is good for the brain. Indeed, one of the best daily braining training activities is simply to learn something new, even if it’s something small like learning to cook for yourself.

Dr Denise Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas, gave 200 older people different activities to learn, ranging from digital photography to quilting, which they did for 15 hours a week for three months.

The results showed that people who learn new skills see significant benefits in their brain health. [10] It is especially good at warding off dementia.

So which exercises should you try?

1. Acting:

Acting is a fantastic way to both socialise and to become more aware of your body and improve your emotional intelligence.

It is easy to see why acting is so good for the brain. For starters, when we act the role of another person (a character in a play) we have to change our perspective to see the world through their eyes. This is one of the benefits of more serious acting, such as method acting.

Then there’s the more down-to-Earth aspects of acting. Learning lines, for instance, is good for the memory. Acting is social, and socialising is good for… practically everything. And if we are putting on shows we have to consider the space we’re in, the way we move our body, choreography… that’s all good for motor functioning and spatial awareness.

There are many reasons why acting is an excellent brain training activity. And you don’t need to be in a major theatre show to take advantage. Just grab a book and act out a character.

2. Play an instrument

Playing music is relaxing and enjoyable. Pick an instrument and get playing.

The University of Montreal studied the brains of musicians and found interesting results [11].

The researchers state that playing music:

  • strengthens the nerve fibres connecting the two sides of the brain (corpus callosum)
  • increases grey matter volume
  • improves speech processing in children with dyslexia
  • improves memory
  • makes you happy
  • improves blood flow to the brain
  • improves the executive functioning

3. Learn languages:

Learning a new language doesn’t just allow you to talk to foreigners. It gives your brain a great workout too.

Scientific research shows that learning a new language is an excellent way to train the brain for young people and older people alike, according to Penn State researchers.

The researchers studied the changes in the brain of English speakers who were learning Chinese as a second language over six weeks.

People who successfully learned the language had improved connectivity.

The researchers state that learning a second language can lead to both physical and behavioural changes in adults.  [12]

4. Art therapy:

Stress is one of the most prominent reasons for poor mental health. If you’re stressed, use art and art therapy for relaxation and stress relief.

One excellent exercise to try is mindful writing. This is a meditative technique in which we focus the mind on the present moment and write in a non-judgmental fashion.

This technique heightens present-moment awareness, reduces stress, and improves cognitive functioning.

5. Switch Hands:

Believe it or not, one of the absolute best daily brain training activities is just to switch hands.

When we switch hands, we strengthen neural pathways, and we create new neural connections. One way to do this is to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. It will feel awkward, but this is the entire point—it feels awkward because your brain is unaccustomed to doing this activity with this hand. Try performing simple, everyday activities with your other hand.

6. Culture:

Learn about the culture either of your own area or of somewhere new to you. This gives you a new perspective on the world, is educational, and offers new ways of looking at things.

7. A totally different day:

Spend one entire day doing things you never do. This is a fantastic way to build new neural pathways. The easiest way to do this is to go somewhere you have never been before, or to spend the day doing an activity you have never previously attempted.

8. Further Education:

Consider further education, which won’t just provide more career opportunities but will also give your brain a serious workout.

Diet changes

Let’s move on from our list of the best daily brain training activities and take a look at diet.

There is both a good diet for brain health and a bad diet for brain health.

Diet has a huge effect on cognitive functioning.

Scientists used imaging technology to investigate how neurology affects dietary disorders.  Amazingly, they found that what we eat directly effects the way we think.

The scientists discovered that:

  • Skipping breakfast makes us crave junk food more
  • A diet high in sugar impacts the brain’s insulin receptors and impairs spatial learning and memory skills
  • Obesity impairs cognitive functioning and improves decision-making.

Best foods

1: Fish: fish is the number one brain food. Weekly consumption of non-dried fish increases grey matter, which improves cognition and memory [13]. Eating fish also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

2: Antioxidants: Antioxidant help to promote inner calm, to focus the mind and to improve memory and problem-solving skills. Consider using dietary supplements for this.

3: Fruits and Vegetables: You know you need to eat your five a day, but are you doing it?

4: Whole Grains: Scientific studies have shown that diets which include whole grains reduce the chance of stroke and chronic disease.

5: Avocado: The mono-saturated fat in avocados increases blood flow to the brain, helping promote good mental health.

6: Power Foods: Learn about power foods like radishes, Goji berries and blueberries and incorporate them into your diet.

7: Olive Oil: breaks up blood clots and improves blood flow.

8: Garlic and Onion: Excellent antioxidants which will help blood flow to the brain.

9:  Sugar: Refined sugar is a naughty no-no; just avoid it.

Games—Good Or Bad?

Brain training exercises and games: Do they work? (CBC Marketplace)

One of the most popular daily brain training exercises in 2020 are brain-games.

But do they work?

You have to be pretty sceptical about whether brain training works, don’t you? I mean let’s be completely honest here, some games are so simple that they involve clicking on which piece of text is red.

Now, if you want to get good at knowing what’s red and what’s green then yeah, games might be flipping awesome. But really who wants that? Do games truly train your brain in anything meaningful and quantifiable?

I spent Thursday training my brain with Lumosity. I was shooting down birds. Then on Friday I was finding words that began with TO.

I’ve been trying these for about a month, mostly from a research point of view, trying to work out whether brain training games work. And I’ve constantly been asking myself, ” Is this for real? Or is it just a fad?”

I’ve done memory testing games, reasoning games, spatial awareness and tons more.

According to Lumosity,  spending a few minutes playing games makes you “Smarter and brighter” (somehow while real video games make you less intelligent. . . really, are they that different? I think not.).

The idea is that playing games boosts your IQ. Tons of people buy into this idea and thanks to the commerciality of the prospect, major video game developers like Nintendo are doing similar things.

Lumosity has grown 150% year on year since 2005. It has over 35 million players. In January the Lumosity app made $25 million.

In 20, these games are one of the most popular daily brain training activities. And supposedly they are based on science.

Lumosity was co-founded by Michael Scanlon, who left his PHd in Neuroscience at Stanford University. According to Lumosity’s head of communications, Erica Perng “The games are founded on the principles of neuroplasticity, the fact that the brain can reorganise itself to complete certain challenges.” Sounds great, that, reorganising your brain to be good at spotting which words are red.

In the US they are used in schools and there’s some evidence to suggest that they lower the chances of developing early-onset dementia.

But do they really work?

In 2008 a study by Susanne Jaeggi’s showed that memory training could indeed raise an individual’s IQ. But then a group of psychologists at Georgia Tech performed a similar study which concluded the opposite.

Then there’s Dr Adrian Owen’s 2010 study which showed that games involving reasoning and memory planning improved an individual’s ability to complete these specific tasks but had little effect on anything else.

We get better at the games themselves but not at anything else.

This explains why the end test results of sites like Lumosity is so positive: the gamers do get better at playing the games (which is what the test is on), but they do not get better at anything else.

So, what are we left with?

The scientific evidence suggests that:

  1. a) the brain reorganises itself to get better at specific challenges;
  2. b) the challenges we’re getting better at are challenges like spotting which words are red
  3. c) end tests results on sites like Lumosity mean very little

Overall, I suggest you don’t use online brain training games like Lumosity, and stick to the ideas above instead, which have far more scientific basis.

Which exercise is your favorite?

Above, we’ve looked at 40 daily brain training activities that have been scientifically proven to work.

The best strategy is to use a combination of various of the exercises above. And frequently mix-up the exercises you do. This will benefit you in numerous ways and will massively improve overall cognitive functioning.

9 Brain Exercises to Strengthen Your Mind

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brain training exercises

SOURCES:

3: Short- And Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain,Gregory S Berns 1, Kristina Blaine, Michael J Prietula, Brandon E Pye  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23988110/

5: Neural Basis of Video Gaming: A Systematic Review, Soledad Ballesteros, National University of Distance Education (UNED), https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00248/full

6: Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills, Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

7: 4 Brain Benefits Of Swimming: Improved Blood Flow Boosts Cognitive Function, Alleviates Depression Symptoms,  Medical Daily, https://www.medicaldaily.com/4-brain-benefits-swimming-improved-blood-flow-boosts-cognitive-function-402385

8: Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memoryKirk I. Erickson https://www.pnas.org/content/108/7/3017.abstract

9: Dancing And The Brain, Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute https://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain/dancing-and-brain
10: Learning A New Skill Works Best To Keep Your Brain Sharp, LAUREN SILVERMAN, National Public Radio https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/05/05/309006780/learning-a-new-skill-works-best-to-keep-your-brain-sharp
11: Musicians react faster and are better multisensory integrators,  Simon P.LandryFrançoisChampoux, Université de Montréal https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278262616300550
12: Learning languages is a workout for brains, both young and old, Victoria M. Indivero, Penn State University, https://news.psu.edu/story/334349/2014/11/12/research/learning-languages-workout-brains-both-young-and-old

13: Fish as Brain Food, NICHOLAS BAKALAR, New York Times, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/20/fish-as-brain-food/


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