- How to Improve Your Memory
- Whether you’re looking to sharpen your mind, boost your mental performance, or preserve your memory as you age, these tips can help.
- Tip 1: Give your brain a workout
- Tip 2: Don’t skip the physical exercise
- Tip 3: Get your Zs
- Tip 4: Make time for friends
- Tip 5: Keep stress in check
- Tip 6: Have a laugh
- Tip 7: Eat a brain-boosting diet
- Tip 8: Identify and treat health problems
- Tip 9: Take practical steps to support learning and memory
- 9 Brain Exercises That Ensure Memory Improvement
- This Article Contains:
- Brain Exercises Or Brain Thinners? What Makes A Good Mind Exercise?
- The 9 Best Brain Exercises For Memory Improvement
- 1. The 4-Details Observation Exercise
- 2. Number Brain Exercises That Skyrocket Your Concentration
- 3. Repeat & Recall What People Say In Your Mind
- 4. Visualization Exercise Secrets Of A Memory Maverick
- 5. The Metronome-Clapping Exercise
- 6. Create A Memory Palace
- 7. Learn a Foreign Language
- 8. Mind Mapping For Maximum Brain Health
- 9. The Brain Exercise Of Sports And Fitness
- What Is The Best Brain Activity For You?
- How to Stimulate Your Brain To Be Smarter & Faster!
- Turn Your Dream Of Operating A Fully Fit Mind Into Reality
- How These Free Brain Games For Adults Improve Memory and Concentration
- The Truth About How To Improve Concentration And Focus
- Brain Rehabilitation Exercises For Overcoming Depression
- Summary Of The Most Potent Brain Exercises
- Improve Your Memory With Games
- Brain Exercise Bootcamp!
- How to Dramatically Improve Your Short Term Memory In No Time
- There Is No Such Thing As Simple And Plain ‘Memory’
- The Difference Between Working Memory, Short Term Memory, and Long-Term Memory
- Can You Really Improve Your Short Term Memory?
- The Importance Of Visual Memory
- We Are Wired To Remember Locations
- Re-learning How To Utilize Your Memory
- Final notes on how to improve your short term memory
- Life at The Clare
- Crosswords, Sudoku, and Other Newspaper Puzzles
- Chess, Checkers, and Backgammon
- Board Games
- The Grocery List Game
- 9 Exercises To Increase Your Brain Power
- Squat your way through brain fatigue
- Clear your mind with a set of planks
- Jump those jacks to kick start your brain
- Run for your life
- Walking never gets old
- A few breathing exercises go a long way
- Yoga cleanses the soul and mind
- Tai Chi: take a leaf out of the Chinese’s books
- Weight training coupled with resistance exercises
- 7 Most Effective Brain Exercises to Improve Your Memory, Attention and Performance
- Can Exercise Improve Memory?
- It preserves your ability to think, reason, and remember.
- It boosts mental performance.
- It reduces your risk of developing diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- It keeps your brain engaged and active.
- Any exercise helps.
- A Revolutionary Assessment Integrated in your Mental Training and Mental Exercises
How to Improve Your Memory
Whether you’re looking to sharpen your mind, boost your mental performance, or preserve your memory as you age, these tips can help.
A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you’re a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age, there’s lots you can do to improve your memory and mental performance
They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to the brain, scientists have discovered that this old adage simply isn’t true. The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.
The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age. These 9 tips can show you how.
Tip 1: Give your brain a workout
By the time you’ve reached adulthood, your brain has developed millions of neural pathways that help you process and recall information quickly, solve familiar problems, and execute habitual tasks with a minimum of mental effort. But if you always stick to these well-worn paths, you aren’t giving your brain the stimulation it needs to keep growing and developing. You have to shake things up from time to time!
Memory, like muscular strength, requires you to “use it or lose it.” The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and remember information. But not all activities are equal. The best brain exercises break your routine and challenge you to use and develop new brain pathways.
Four key elements of a good brain-boosting activity
- It teaches you something new. No matter how intellectually demanding the activity, if it’s something you’re already good at, it’s not a good brain exercise. The activity needs to be something that’s unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone. To strengthen the brain, you need to keep learning and developing new skills.
- It’s challenging. The best brain-boosting activities demand your full and close attention. It’s not enough that you found the activity challenging at one point. It must still be something that requires mental effort. For example, learning to play a challenging new piece of music counts. Playing a difficult piece you’ve already memorized does not.
- It’s a skill you can build on. Look for activities that allow you to start at an easy level and work your way up as your skills improve —always pushing the envelope so you continue to stretch your capabilities. When a previously difficult level starts to feel comfortable, that means it’s time to tackle the next level of performance.
- It’s rewarding. Rewards support the brain’s learning process. The more interested and engaged you are in the activity, the more likely you’ll continue doing it and the greater the benefits you’ll experience. So choose activities that, while challenging, are still enjoyable and satisfying.
Think of something new you’ve always wanted to try, like learning how to play the guitar, make pottery, juggle, play chess, speak French, dance the tango, or master your golf swing. Any of these activities can help you improve your memory, so long as they keep you challenged and engaged.
What about brain-training programs?
There are countless brain-training apps and online programs that promise to boost memory, problem-solving skills, attention, and even IQ with daily practice. But do they really work? Increasingly, the evidence says no. While these brain-training programs may lead to short-term improvements in whatever task or specific game you’ve been practicing, they don’t appear to strengthen or improve overall intelligence, memory, or other cognitive abilities.
Tip 2: Don’t skip the physical exercise
While mental exercise is important for brain health, that doesn’t mean you never need to break a sweat. Physical exercise helps your brain stay sharp. It increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. Perhaps most importantly, exercise plays an important role in neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new neuronal connections.
Brain-boosting exercise tips
- Aerobic exercise is particularly good for the brain, so choose activities that keep your blood pumping. In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain.
- Does it take you long time to clear out the sleep fog when you wake up? If so, you may find that exercising in the morning before you start your day makes a big difference. In addition to clearing out the cobwebs, it also primes you for learning throughout the day.
- Physical activities that require hand-eye coordination or complex motor skills are particularly beneficial for brain building.
- Exercise breaks can help you get past mental fatigue and afternoon slumps. Even a short walk or a few jumping jacks can be enough to reboot your brain.
If you are experiencing traumatic stress or find yourself stuck in repetitive, unhealthy behavior…
…Try exercising the muscles connected to fight-or-flight with attention. Exercises that use both your arms and legs—and are done in a focused way with mindful awareness of your physical and emotional experience—are especially good at reducing traumatic stress. Exercises like walking, running, swimming, or rock-climbing, activate your senses and make you more aware of yourself and others when they are done with focused attention.
Tip 3: Get your Zs
There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function at your best. The truth is that over 95% of adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night in order to avoid sleep deprivation. Even skimping on a few hours makes a difference! Memory, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are all compromised.
But sleep is critical to learning and memory in an even more fundamental way. Research shows that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, with the key memory-enhancing activity occurring during the deepest stages of sleep.
Get on a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to break your routine, even on weekends and holidays.
Avoid all screens for at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted by TVs, tablets, phones, and computers trigger wakefulness and suppress hormones such as melatonin that make you sleepy.
Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine affects people differently. Some people are highly sensitive, and even morning coffee may interfere with sleep at night. Try reducing your intake or cutting it out entirely if you suspect it’s keeping you up.
Tip 4: Make time for friends
When you think of ways to improve memory, do you think of “serious” activities such as wrestling with the New York Times crossword puzzle or mastering chess strategy, or is it more lighthearted pastimes—hanging out with friends or enjoying a funny movie—that come to mind? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably the former. But countless studies show that a life full of friends and fun comes with cognitive benefits.
Healthy relationships: the ultimate brain booster
Humans are highly social animals. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Relationships stimulate our brains—in fact, interacting with others may provide the best kind of brain exercise.
Research shows that having meaningful friendships and a strong support system are vital not only to emotional health, but also to brain health. In one recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, researchers found that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline.
There are many ways to start taking advantage of the brain and memory-boosting benefits of socializing. Volunteer, join a club, make it a point to see friends more often, or reach out over the phone. And if a human isn’t handy, don’t overlook the value of a pet—especially the highly-social dog.
Tip 5: Keep stress in check
Stress is one of the brain’s worst enemies. Over time, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones. Studies have also linked stress to memory loss.
Tips for managing stress
- Set realistic expectations (and be willing to say no!)
- Take breaks throughout the day
- Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
- Set a healthy balance between work and leisure time
- Focus on one task at a time, rather than trying to multi-task
The stress-busting, memory-boosting benefits of meditation
The scientific evidence for the mental health benefits of meditation continues to pile up. Studies show that meditation helps improve many different types of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Meditation also can improve focus, concentration, creativity, memory, and learning and reasoning skills.
Meditation works its “magic” by changing the actual brain. Brain images show that regular meditators have more activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with feelings of joy and equanimity. Meditation also increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and encourages more connections between brain cells—all of which increases mental sharpness and memory ability.
Tip 6: Have a laugh
You’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine, and that holds true for the brain and the memory, as well as the body. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.
Furthermore, listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity. As psychologist Daniel Goleman notes in his book Emotional Intelligence, “laughter seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely.”
Looking for ways to bring more laughter in your life? Start with these basics:
Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is to talk about the times when we took ourselves too seriously.
When you hear laughter, move toward it. Most of the time, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and try to join in.
Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily—both at themselves and at life’s absurdities—and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your loved ones having fun.
Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.
Tip 7: Eat a brain-boosting diet
Just as the body needs fuel, so does the brain. You probably already know that a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, “healthy” fats (such as olive oil, nuts, fish) and lean protein will provide lots of health benefits, but such a diet can also improve memory. For brain health, though, it’s not just what you eat—it’s also what you don‘t eat. The following nutritional tips will help boost your brainpower and reduce your risk of dementia:
Get your omega-3s. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for brain health. Fish is a particularly rich source of omega-3, especially cold water “fatty fish” such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, consider non-fish sources of omega-3s such as seaweed, walnuts, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, winter squash, kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans.
Limit calories and saturated fat. Research shows that diets high in saturated fat (from sources such as red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, cream, and ice cream) increase your risk of dementia and impair concentration and memory.
Eat more fruit and vegetables. Produce is packed with antioxidants, substances that protect your brain cells from damage. Colorful fruits and vegetables are particularly good antioxidant “superfood” sources.
Drink green tea. Green tea contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage brain cells. Among many other benefits, regular consumption of green tea may enhance memory and mental alertness and slow brain aging.
Drink wine (or grape juice) in moderation. Keeping your alcohol consumption in check is key, since alcohol kills brain cells. But in moderation (around 1 glass a day for women; 2 for men), alcohol may actually improve memory and cognition. Red wine appears to be the best option, as it is rich in resveratrol, a flavonoid that boosts blood flow in the brain and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other resveratrol-packed options include grape juice, cranberry juice, fresh grapes and berries, and peanuts.
Tip 8: Identify and treat health problems
Do you feel that your memory has taken an unexplainable dip? If so, there may be a health or lifestyle problem to blame.
It’s not just dementia or Alzheimer’s disease that causes memory loss. There are many diseases, mental health disorders, and medications that can interfere with memory:
Heart disease and its risk factors. Cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, have been linked to mild cognitive impairment.
Diabetes. Studies show that people with diabetes experience far greater cognitive decline than those who don’t suffer from the disease.
Hormone imbalance. Women going through menopause often experience memory problems when their estrogen dips. In men, low testosterone can cause issues. Thyroid imbalances can also cause forgetfulness, sluggish thinking, or confusion.
Medications. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can get in the way of memory and clear thinking. Common culprits include cold and allergy medications, sleep aids, and antidepressants. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects.
Is it depression?
Emotional difficulties can take just as heavy a toll on the brain as physical problems. In fact, mental sluggishness, difficulty concentrating, and forgetfulness are common symptoms of depression. The memory issues can be particularly bad in older people who are depressed-so much so that it is sometimes mistaken for dementia. The good news is that when the depression is treated, memory should return to normal.
Tip 9: Take practical steps to support learning and memory
Pay attention. You can’t remember something if you never learned it, and you can’t learn something—that is, encode it into your brain—if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process a piece of information into your memory. If you’re easily distracted, pick a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
Involve as many senses as possible. Try to relate information to colors, textures, smells, and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain. Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better.
Relate information to what you already know. Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it’s new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.
For more complex material, focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Practice explaining the ideas to someone else in your own words.
Rehearse information you’ve already learned. Review what you’ve learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter. This “spaced rehearsal” is more effective than cramming, especially for retaining what you’ve learned.
Use mnemonic devices to make memorization easier. Mnemonics (the initial “m” is silent) are clues of any kind that help us remember something, usually by helping us associate the information we want to remember with a visual image, a sentence, or a word.
6 types of mnemonic device
- Visual image – Associate a visual image with a word or name to help you remember them better. Positive, pleasant images that are vivid, colorful, and three-dimensional will be easier to remember. Example: To remember the name Rosa Parks and what she’s known for, picture a woman sitting on a park bench surrounded by roses, waiting as her bus pulls up.
- Acrostic (or sentence) – Make up a sentence in which the first letter of each word is part of or represents the initial of what you want to remember. Example: The sentence “Every good boy does fine” to memorize the lines of the treble clef, representing the notes E, G, B, D, and F.
- Acronym – An acronym is a word that is made up by taking the first letters of all the key words or ideas you need to remember and creating a new word out of them. Example: The word “HOMES” to remember the names of the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
- Rhymes and alliteration – Rhymes, alliteration (a repeating sound or syllable), and even jokes are memorable way to remember more mundane facts and figures. Example: The rhyme “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November” to remember the months of the year with only 30 days in them.
- Chunking – Chunking breaks a long list of numbers or other types of information into smaller, more manageable chunks. Example: Remembering a 10-digit phone number by breaking it down into three sets of numbers: 555-867-5309 (as opposed to 5558675309).
- Method of loci – Imagine placing the items you want to remember along a route you know well, or in specific locations in a familiar room or building. Example: For a shopping list, imagine bananas in the entryway to your home, a puddle of milk in the middle of the sofa, eggs going up the stairs, and bread on your bed.
There are plenty of good reasons to be physically active. Big ones include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Maybe you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent depression, or just look better. Here’s another one, which especially applies to those of us (including me) experiencing the brain fog that comes with age: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.
The finding comes at a critical time. Researchers say one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds globally. They estimate that by the year 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide.
Exercise and the brain
Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.
Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.
Put it to the test
So what should you do? Start exercising! We don’t know exactly which exercise is best. Almost all of the research has looked at walking, including the latest study. “It’s likely that other forms of aerobic exercise that get your heart pumping might yield similar benefits,” says Dr. McGinnis.
How much exercise is required to improve memory? These study participants walked briskly for one hour, twice a week. That’s 120 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. Standard recommendations advise half an hour of moderate physical activity most days of the week, or 150 minutes a week. If that seems daunting, start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by five or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal.
If you don’t want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises, such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, or dancing. Don’t forget that household activities can count as well, such as intense floor mopping, raking leaves, or anything that gets your heart pumping so much that you break out in a light sweat.
Don’t have the discipline to do it on your own? Try any or all of these ideas:
- Join a class or work out with a friend who’ll hold you accountable.
- Track your progress, which encourages you to reach a goal.
- If you’re able, hire a personal trainer. (Paying an expert is good motivation.)
Whatever exercise and motivators you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a habit, almost like taking a prescription medication. After all, they say that exercise is medicine, and that can go on the top of anyone’s list of reasons to work out.
9 Brain Exercises That Ensure Memory Improvement
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Lots of people do brain exercises, often in the form of brain games.
You’ve probably even tried a few, right?
That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s a catch:
Playing brain exercise games on your “smartphone” is not necessarily brain exercise.
It might not even be mentally stimulating.
Not by a long shot.
But don’t worry.
In this article, I’ll reveal some brain exercises that actually work. I’ll show you how to play them and also help you understand why they boost brain health.
This Article Contains:
- Brain Exercises or Brain Thinners? What Makes A Good Mind Exercise?
- The 9 Best Brain Exercises For Memory Improvement
- What Is The Best Brain Activity For You?
- How To Stimulate Your Brain To Be Smarter and Faster
- How To Improve Concentration And Focus
Let’s get started.
Brain Exercises Or Brain Thinners? What Makes A Good Mind Exercise?
Some of those smartphone-based brain games don’t exercise your brain at all.
You don’t have to take my word for it either. Just check out all the people on this live call who totally agreed:
Instead of helping you, those apps train your brain to get good at completing tasks within the world of those apps. Their mental fitness doesn’t apply to other parts of your life.
And as we discussed in the video above, your memory and brain fitness exercises need to be both the dojo and the exercise.
And you need to be doing exercises that either improve your ability to associate or help you focus so that you can associate.
Note: Association is my go-to technique when I wish to stimulate my mind.
Bottom Line: Use Concrete Brain Exercises And Avoid Abstract Ones
If you’re exercising your brain on an abstract level but not directing the fitness at specific life improvement goals, you’re missing out. Your brain fitness must be targeted at specific goals to get tangible results and avoid cognitive decline.
And if you’d like brain exercises that improve your memory and give yourself a great mental workout, give the following easy exercises a try. I promise they’ll be fun and stimulate both short-term memory and long-term memory.
By the way, if you also want a detailed list of methods that will improve your memory and boost your cognitive abilities, please check out:
How to Remember Things: 21 Techniques For Memory Improvement.
And in case you weren’t aware that you can listen to me narrating this post, scroll up and click play above. I’ll happily narrate these powerful brain exercises for you on demand.
Or, keep reading and discover:
The 9 Best Brain Exercises For Memory Improvement
1. The 4-Details Observation Exercise
Gary Small talks about memorizing four details of people you encounter out in public.
For example, let’s say someone is wearing a black hat, has blonde hair, a triangular ring, and a green sweater.
Illustration of the 4 Details Exercise
The goal is to observe the details first and then recall them later.
Some scientists call brain exercises like these “passive memory training.”
They’re passive because you’re not using any special memory techniques. You’re just asking your mind to do what it was designed to do: to remember.
Why does this matter?
It matters because we don’t ask our minds to practise observation enough.
Because we don’t practise observation, we fail to observe and receive the exercise simply asking our brains to recall information brings.
We also fail to observe things that we aren’t seeing – making it impossible to make mental pictures of them. I teach you all about how to do that with these 3 simple visualization exercises.
If you’d like to be a better observer of the world around you, noting and visualizing details will help far better than brain training software like Cogmed.
It’s also scalable. You can start by observing just one person per day. Once you’ve gotten good at recalling four details of just one person, you can add more information or more people (or both).
You can scale this exercise even further by memorizing the details using a Memory Palace.
If you like, you can also notice details about buildings, cars, movies or series and foods that improve memory to boost your cognitive abilities.
But focusing on real people is the more potent exercise. Being observant of others around you is a great social skill.
2. Number Brain Exercises That Skyrocket Your Concentration
I can’t emphasize this enough:
Numeracy is a powerful skill to boost your cognitive abilities. It’s something I work on to boost logical thinking – both with and without memory techniques in play.
“Add 3 Minus 7” is a fun numerical brain exercise you can try today. To get started, all you do is pick any 3-digit number. Then, add 3 to that digit 3 times. Then minus 7 from the new number 7 times.
Repeat the process at least 5 times and pick a new 3-digit number the next time. You can also take a different route and start with a 4-digit number and use other numbers to challenge your working memory further.
For example, you could start with 1278 and add 12, 12 times and minus 11, 11 times.
It’s up to you and the amount of numbers to dictate the level of challenge. Remember, this brain exercise strengthens your working memory because of the amount of detail you need to hold in mind to complete it.
3. Repeat & Recall What People Say In Your Mind
We all know in our hearts that no one is really listening when we speak. And that’s sad.
But here’s the good news:
You don’t have to be another person who is just nodding your head like a puppet while actually thinking about something else.
You can train your brain to focus on what people are telling you and remember everything they say.
It all begins by creating presence in the moment in an easy way:
Follow the words being spoken to you by repeating them in your mind.
For example, imagine that someone is saying the following to you:
“Tomorrow I want to go to a movie called Memory Maverick. It’s about a guy who cannot forget. He’s hired by a group known only as ‘The Agency’ to infiltrate a competitor. But once the hero learns the secrets, he doesn’t want to hand them over. But since he can’t forget, The Agency starts making his life miserable.”
All you would need to do to complete this brain exercise is repeat everything the person is saying silently in your mind. You’ll automatically boost your cognitive function and remember more by doing this.
It works because simply asking your memory to recall information exercises it. The more challenging the information, the more exercise your brain will get.
Important Tip: Don’t make the exercise so easy that you get bored with it. We all need challenge from our brain exercises in order to grow.
4. Visualization Exercise Secrets Of A Memory Maverick
To remember even more, you can practise creating pictures in your head.
For example, you might see an image of Mel Gibson as he looked in the movie Maverick trying to remember something.
Or you might get a picture in your mind of an agency building and scenes of evil men in suits torturing the hero. Any images and ideas you create will help you become a living, breathing mnemonics dictionary.
For more brain exercises on remembering what people are saying with visualization practice, check out this interview with Jim Samuels on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast. He has some great ideas, and the benefits include:
- Being more present.
- Remembering more of what was said.
- Showing people that you’re interested in them and their lives.
- Easing conflicts when they arise because you remember the issues in greater detail.
As people speak, they “translate” their ideas into pictures, feelings, related concepts and even tastes and smells.
Take this training seriously:
You’ll feel better about your connection to people because you’re really with them.
5. The Metronome-Clapping Exercise
Back in grad school, I had a great professor named Matthew Clark. For some reason, he told our class in Classical Literature about a great concentration exercise that I’ve practiced ever since.
It’s simple: You put on a metronome at a slow speed and then practice “covering the click.”
Such neurobic exercises can help us focus on things that our brains have been automated to perform. The increased focus that neurobic exercises develop helps you zero-in on your surroundings to boost your memory skills.
If you’d like a practical example of the metronome exercise on video, please check this out:
To be clear:
I don’t think this brain exercise helps memory in any direct way.
But it is excellent for improving concentration and presence.
Here’s why these mental states matter:
Both concentration and presence are cognitive skills we all need. The more concentration and presence we have, the more we can remember by default.
The better you get at this exercise, the longer the amount of time between clicks you should place. Accurately covering the metronome with a minute between clicks would be impressive!
6. Create A Memory Palace
The ultimate brain exercise to boost overall cognitive function is also the easiest. It involves nothing more than a simple drawing that follows some simple principles.
Why is creating a Memory Palace such a powerful exercise?
Take my free memory improvement course and find out for yourself:
First, creating a Memory Palace draws upon your spatial and visual memory.
It’s also a great recovered memory and autobiographical memory exercise.
As far as mind exercises go, the Memory Palace training exercise works kind of in reverse.
Because you’re accessing visual memory cues that are usually blueprinted in your mind outside of your awareness.
Think about it:
You’ve rarely gone into a new home or store with the conscious intent of memorizing its features.
Yet, if you think back to the last home of a friend you visited, here’s a fact:
Most people can recall an insane amount of detail with visual memory. Creating a Memory Palace lets you exercise that inborn ability.
You can even use it for memory and learning stunts like memorizing all the Prime Ministers of Canada.
Second, creating a Memory Palace is creating a tool that you can use for life. Once you have one and you’ve mastered using it, you can create dozens more.
And if you can do that, you can do great things with your memory, like how Matteo Ricci learned Chinese in record time. You can also easily remember names at events and accomplish any memory-associated goal.
And what goal doesn’t involve memory?
If you’d like to learn how to create a Memory Palace following the good rules of the Magnetic Memory Method, my FREE Memory Improvement Kit will take you through the entire process. It includes videos, worksheets and more to get you up to speed on this important talent.
7. Learn a Foreign Language
You’ve probably heard that bilingualism is good for the brain, right?
It is, and one of the reasons why is that you are continually asking your brain to recall information.
Take advantage of your brain’s neuroplasticity and learn a new skill at any age to keep it active and ticking!
This is a great brain exercise for people of any age because it keeps you talking with people.
Regular conversation also helps stimulate the production of healthy chemicals for better mental health. And for a double-whammy of health and brain benefits, singing has been shown to increase cortisol and other chemicals involved in healing.
For this reason, singing in a foreign language you’re learning can increase the impact and effectiveness of this brain exercise.
However, that isn’t all – you get more health benefits.
Researchers conducted a study that found that learning a second language can delay the onset of cognitive impairment like dementia in Alzheimer’s disease by around 4-5 years!
The best part?
Learning anything new is good for your brain!
Whether it’s learning to play a new musical instrument or working with your non-dominant hand, new neural pathways will form – helping you boost your brain power.
8. Mind Mapping For Maximum Brain Health
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tony Buzan’s approach to mind mapping.
I used to mind map in ways that weren’t effective at all.
But after training with Tony and world mind mapping champion Phil Chambers, I discovered a new route and I’m way better at the practice and share it in real-time on my YouTube live streams:
Why is mind mapping great for boosting cognitive function?
One reason is that you’re effectively reproducing the role of nerve cells on the paper.
Just as a brain cell has a central nucleus with synapses that flow outward like a river, the mind map has a central idea that feeds several streams with mental power. By creating these mindmaps, you’re making it easier on your brain – thereby increasing its processing speed.
Give these 10 mind mapping rules a try whenever you want a cognitive training workout.
9. The Brain Exercise Of Sports And Fitness
I love physical activity like aerobic exercise.
But not just to workout my muscles and boost my heart rate.
Physical activity is a great place for a mental workout.
For example, you can memorize the number of sets and reps you complete using the Major System.
You can also rehearse the content in your Memory Palaces after your tai chi session.
You can do the 4-details exercise as you observe other people during your high-intensity interval training breaks.
In fact, physical exercise is one of the most common ways to ease stress, boost memory and manage the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It’s also been proven to delay the onset of deficiencies associated with an increase in brain age.
It really is a win-win, and of course, since your mind is produced by your physical brain, combining physical and mental exercise is sure to maximize the boost your overall health and cognitive abilities.
Take all of these simple exercises to your preferred place of physical activity. You can even mind map your to-do list in a Memory Journal between sets!
What Is The Best Brain Activity For You?
At the end of the day, mind exercises are best when they’re applied to problem-solving in our daily life.
For example, forgetting important details can turn our lives upside down.
You can now choose a brain activity that can help prevent memory loss while showing you how to be happy and positive.
Not being able to focus on numbers leads us to making all kinds of mistakes that prevent us from memorizing information quickly. The simple game you’ve just learned is just one step towards improved numerical memory skills.
You’ve also learned to listen better, be more present and develop concentration for extended periods of time.
In many ways, repeating the words of others in your mind or “covering the click” can help you meditate and practice mindfulness – skills known to improve memory.
But what matters above all is that the best memory exercises are the ones that you actually use. If sudoku is what works, then go for it. If it’s brain teasers – then that’s fine too.
Remember, you cannot get the benefits from them without consistent application.
How to Stimulate Your Brain To Be Smarter & Faster!
Finally, you have the opportunity to create a Memory Palace. This simple, ancient invention will also improve your concentration while letting you remember anything.
I’m not sure I believe in left brain exercises versus right brain exercises, but I’m confident that if such things exist, the Memory Palace covers them both.
Combined, all of these mind fitness activities will improve your life. They all serve as great memory exercises for kids too, so please pass them on to anyone of young age too.
On that note, they’re also great memory exercises for older adults, so don’t ignore that branch of your family and social circles either. Whatever your age – I know you want to be mentally fit!
These exercises are great for preventing or alleviating the symptoms of many diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other symptoms of cognitive decline associated with an ageing brain or mental health issues.
Turn Your Dream Of Operating A Fully Fit Mind Into Reality
When you regularly complete brain exercises, you’ll feel filled with pride. Few people have the gumption to take consistent action, after all.
Your commitment to what memory expert Tony Buzan calls “mental literacy” means you should celebrate. Consistently completing brain exercises should be rewarded, so be sure to factor that in.
You don’t have to think hard about giving yourself the perfect gift, though. The brain power that comes from regularly completing brain exercises is its own reward.
It’s not just about “brain” activities either. Asking questions about ambidextrousness and memory can help too.
How These Free Brain Games For Adults Improve Memory and Concentration
For example, I’ve practiced juggling, writing with both hands and writing backwards to involve both my brain and body. I know that you’re wondering how they improve memory and concentration.
I know cognitive activities like throwing around balls and writing in the wrong direction seem like a waste of time when you’re looking for brain gym exercises that use thoughts.
But as you can see in this brain exercise challenge, I’m bringing both worlds together in a way that is easy and fun.
The Truth About How To Improve Concentration And Focus
It’s not just about concentration exercises.
I also make sure that I don’t fall into the traps of smartphone and video game addiction.
Sure, you can get some great brain fitness reading from the Kindle app or solving online crossword puzzles. Maybe you excel at Nintendo’s brain age game.
But if you’re constantly interrupted by notifications on your reading device, you’re damaging your focus and concentration more than helping improve it. Mind exercises truly require the right environment.
Brain Rehabilitation Exercises For Overcoming Depression
Just so you know, the reason I’m so passionate about sharing my knowledge about how to improve brain function, it’s because these activities saved my life.
I once nearly lost my life. But these brain exercises helped save me and here’s a raw discussion of how to train your brain when you’re feeling depressed (or a related mental health problem) based on my experience from before I became a memory expert:
You might also want to consider learning more about vitamins for memory improvement because the ones you’re taking now might be causing more damage than good to your cognitive health.
If you’re looking for information on how to boost brain activity, definitely add dietary considerations to your neurobic exercise routine.
Summary Of The Most Potent Brain Exercises
- The 4-details mental workout is excellent for “passive memory training.”
- Number exercises result in better working memory, an increased attention span and greater numerical memory skills.
- Repeat and Recall exercises also increase your concentration and ability to pay attention to others for longer periods of time. You’ll also remember more.
- Create images, associations and other related sensations as you listen to people speak. This will create intense brain fitness to reduce the chances of memory impairment.
- The Metronome exercise. This simple device can be found at any music store or downloaded as an app. “Covering the click” has many mental benefits and provides a fun challenge as a solo effort or group activity. You can perform such neurobic exercises several times a day.
- Create and use Memory Palaces. Both of these activities create a lot of mental exercise.
- Learn a language consistently over time. It might not feel like brain workout, but it is and the benefits of being bilingual provide ongoing mental benefits. These include helping with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and cognitive decline associated with brain age.
- Mind Map. There are many interesting rules you can follow to maximize the process. Following them is part of what creates the mental benefits of this creative brain game.
- Use memory techniques while getting physical fitness. Using your body and mind at the same time maximizes your time and is a win-win for total psychological and physical optimization. Don’t forget to sleep enough, though!
Improve Your Memory With Games
What are your thoughts about the brain exercise principles discussed in this post? Are these amazing free brain games, or what?
Do you think these are activities you will bring into your life? Did you develop better memory? Is there anything I’m missing?
Let me know in the discussion area below and I’ll gladly respond and update this post.
In fact, for more brain training games that really improve your memory, please read Brain Games: The Truth You Need To Know For Memory Improvement.
Or, if you’d like more practical, hands on help, join my…
Brain Exercise Bootcamp!
This exclusive training comes packed with over 40 brain and memory exercises. You’ll be taken step-by-step through everything you need to create a detailed program of fitness that keeps you focused and sharp for life.
So if you enjoyed the 9 exercises on this page, don’t hesitate to dive in deeper and enjoy 40 more!
How to Dramatically Improve Your Short Term Memory In No Time
Nearly every time I meet someone new, the inevitable question comes up:
“So, what do you do?”
Like anyone, I have a series of standard replies, depending on who the person is and how invested I am in the conversation. Usually, the reply sounds something like this:
“I run a media company that creates only courses, primarily on the topics of memory, learning, and speed reading.”
What doesn’t vary from conversation to conversation is the reply:
“Oh my gosh… I NEED THAT! I have the worst memory!”
Indeed, it seems that the desire to improve our memories is as universal in this day and age as the desire to have more time (which, let’s be honest, we all have experienced).
Here’s the good news:
Unlike adding more hours to the day, you can add more capacity to your memory.
However, in order to do so, there are a few, key fundamentals you must understand.
There Is No Such Thing As Simple And Plain ‘Memory’
As a whole, people understand very little about what their memory is, how it works, and why. And can you blame them? We are all the product of a school system that spends a full year teaching us how to calculate the angle of a line tangent to a circle, but never once stops to teach us about the 10 pound mass of fat that we’re supposedly there to enrich.
(By the way, did you know that your brain is the single most complex object in the known universe? Pretty cool, but definitely not something you can be expected to figure out on your own).
When we set out on the task of improving our memories, it’s important to make a few key distinctions.
First, we must understand that our memory can be categorized into 3 rough categories:
- Working Memory
- Short Term Memory
- Long-Term Memory
Of course, there are different types of memories as well, from episodic, to autobiographical memory, spatial memory, semantic memory, and even procedural memory – but none of that is actually of any importance to us right now.
What you need to understand is that there’s no such thing as plain and simple “memory”. In fact, memory is an extremely complex thing, and one that neuroscientists and psychologists still don’t completely understand. Every day, researchers are surprised to learn about new areas of the brain which are involved in different types of memory, and are finding out that it’s not as simple as assuming that one part of the brain is used in one type of memory.
Fortunately, we don’t actually need to understand the neuroscience behind memory to improve it… If that were true, even I would probably be walking around saying that I have a lousy memory!
The Difference Between Working Memory, Short Term Memory, and Long-Term Memory
So, what are the differences between these 3 types of memory?
Well, first off, we have working memory. As the name would suggest, working memory is really only used while you are working with and processing information. Think of it as your brain’s scratch paper. When you begin reading a sentence, like this one, and remember how the sentence started long enough to connect it to the end… that’s working memory. See? You just used your working memory – and so did I, while writing this very sentence.
Next, we have short term memory – which is quite possibly the most confused memory type of all. Most people would guess that short term memory lasts for minutes or even hours, but in reality, most of the research shows us that this type of memory lasts between 15 and 30 seconds. In that way, you can think of it kind of like the buffer on your computer. When you learn something new, short term memory brings it up in your brain, before the rest of the brain decides what to do with it – sort of. Furthermore, if you’ve ever heard that we can remember 7 ± 2 objects (it’s actually 4 ± 1) in our memory, that refers to short term memory.
Finally, we have long-term memory. Once again, there’s a lot of confusion here, most likely because of the name. While 1 minute may not seem like a long time, in fact, this is the domain of long-term memory. This category of memory is incredibly broad, covering the span from 1 minute to 1 century, and everything in between. Once again, there are many different types of long-term memory, but suffice it to say that if it’s something stored permanently or semi-permanently, that’s your long-term memory at play.
Now that we understand this, let’s proceed, and ask:
Can You Really Improve Your Short Term Memory?
In a word, not really.
But before you get disappointed and leave, don’t worry.
This isn’t because you can’t improve your memory overall – quite the contrary – you can easily 10X your memory in just a few short weeks… It’s just that unless you are suffering from Alzheimer’s or some other form of brain damage, nearly any and all memory improvement you’ll undertake will likely improve your long-term memory.
Indeed, perhaps one of the main reasons people wish to improve short term memory as opposed to the other forms of memory is a misunderstanding of the breakdown. In fact, for my money, I think improving long-term memory is a far better investment – after all, imagine remembering 80% of every book you read – a skill I teach my students in my SuperLearner course.
Sure, there are a few things that you can do to improve your short term memory, but on the whole, you already know them all:
Get more sleep. Exercise. Meditate. Eat a healthy diet with minimal sugar.
In truth, each of these things will improve your short term memory, but only by virtue of the fact that they’ll improve your overall cognitive health.
Assuming you’re already doing all that, let me start, then, by explaining that improving your short term memory is actually not so much a matter of training your memory itself. Sure, you can make a daily habit of remembering longer and longer strings of information, and that will probably improve short term memory at least temporarily. However, if you really want to see dramatic improvements, you need to re-learn how to use your memory – a skill that humanity forgot with the advent of ink, and buried with the advent of computers and Google.
The Importance Of Visual Memory
Thousands of years ago, the Greeks valued short and long-term memory as the noblest of pursuits and skills. They remembered thousands upon thousands of words, entire stories and poems, laws, and sonnets. In fact, it was hundreds of years before such classics as Homer’s The Odyssey or The Iliad were ever committed to writing. This means that someone memorized these massive stories, and passed them on for generations.
The Greeks didn’t do this with some magical herb or root, and they didn’t do it solely by training their memories like you’d train your muscles. They did it because they were masters of mnemonics, or memory techniques.
Memory athletes like Ben Pridmore use these techniques to accomplish such feats as memorizing a deck of cards in only 27 seconds.
You’ve probably encountered mnemonic devices in the past, if you’ve used acronyms like PEMDAS or songs to improve short term memory. These are helpful, but not nearly as effective as visual memory. In my course, I explain that our brains are evolved to place a high emphasis on more “life-and-death” information. They often say that smell and taste (which are related senses) are the most memorable of senses – and this is likely true.
Well, first off, they are hard-wired into the reptilian brain, and developed way before our other senses. But second, it’s a simple evolutionary advantage. Imagine two paleolithic men, one who can remember the smell and taste of a poisonous berry that almost killed him last time he ate it, and one who cannot. Who survives and passes on his genes to you? The same is true of visual memory – remembering what those berries looked like is definitely an evolutionary advantage. However, sound is not nearly as important in life-and-death situations.
We Are Wired To Remember Locations
Another thing that our brains are wired to remember is locations. This is because, for millions of years, our survival depended on our ability to remember where our tribe was (for safety and shelter) and where our food and water supply was. A neanderthal who can’t remember geographically where the freshwater source or the non-poisonous berry tree were isn’t going to stick around long enough to pass her genes along.
This simple evolutionary hand-down is why you remember where the furniture was in every single apartment you’ve ever lived in, and why you can probably tell me how many soap and shampoo bottles are in your shower (and where) right now. Visual and spatial memory are really powerful, and they come as part of the standard software of your brain!
Re-learning How To Utilize Your Memory
And so, coming back from a long tangent, it’s important to understand that improving short term memory is more about utilizing your brain the way it’s designed to be used than anything. It’s about setting things up in your short term memory in a way that effectively and memorably funnels them into your long-term memory. But let’s face it: your brain wasn’t designed to memorize strings of numbers by repeating them over and over. It was designed to formulate and remember pictures, and be able to spatially map them out with ease. So give it what it wants!
Moonwalking with Einstein tells the story of how Foer went from average joe to US memory champion in just one year.
This is why literally all of the world’s top ranking memory athletes at the World Memory Championships use visual memory, and why all of them use a technique called the method of Loci, or memory palaces. The basic idea here is that you create images or symbols for anything you want to remember – converting 8 into a picture of a racetrack, for example – and store it in an imaginary house in one of your storage points. From there, you just have to walk through your old house or office building and imagine finding the clues as you remember each item. This is probably where the term “a stroll down memory lane” originated.
At the most advanced levels, memory athletes have created chunking and compression techniques (such as the Major Method, which turns earn number into a sound and formulating words from those sounds, thereby creating a symbol for every 3-4 numbers instead of each one) and have taken the memory palace to its logical extreme, walking through entire cities to memorize the landscape, and assembling hundreds of buildings with tens of thousands of loci (or storage points) for storing their memories.
You can read more about this in Joshua Foer’s popular book, Moonwalking with Einstein, and it is also something that we teach extensively in our own memory and superlearning trainings. (We’ve also worked closely with world-renowned memory expert Dr. Anthony Metivier, who is featured in our courses, has been a repeat guest on the SuperHuman Academy podcast(here and here), and has his own series of memory courses focusing in specifically on the method of Loci.)
Final notes on how to improve your short term memory
Using these techniques, memory athletes are able to dramatically improve short term memory by blurring the lines between what is short term and what is long term. If you’ve ever used the memory palace technique, you know that it can actually be a very big challenge to remove your memories and make room for new ones. Every time I perform a feat such as memorizing 50 random digits, my biggest challenge isn’t remembering the digits… it’s forgetting the memorized digits from the last time I used that same memory palace. Pretty powerful.
So, this is good and bad news. The bad news is that you can’t really “improve” your short term memory, but rather, that you need to make it into a more efficient funnel for your long-term memory. In order to do that, it takes a bit of work. You need to re-learn how you learn, and learn the system for converting all new information, whether it’s Russian vocabulary, people’s names, or your credit card number, into detailed visual symbols. The next step, once you improve short term memory, is to work on your long-term memory. This is where the memory palaces and other techniques of linking memories come into play. But that, of course, is another topic for another day.
Life at The Clare
Maintaining a strong mind is much like staying in shape. Keeping your mind active involves practicing memory exercises that build your “mental muscles”. Utilizing a few easy memory games can help your mind stay sharp over the years. Whether you practice these pastimes alone or incorporate them in a group setting, these intellectually stimulating memory games for adults keep your mind in peak condition. Try out a few of these games and discover how memory exercises improve retention and recollection in your everyday life.
Crosswords, Sudoku, and Other Newspaper Puzzles
Get your local newspaper to find a complete section of daily mind teasers that improve your mind. Although you can buy a crossword book, newspapers are delivered to your door daily. This guaranteed schedule allows you to create a routine crafted around these memory puzzles. Solve them over your morning coffee or take them as an activity while in the waiting room for daily appointments. Incorporating these mind games into your everyday life is an easy way to build a stronger mind.
If you start to notice the crossword puzzles becoming too easy, you have lost the challenge aspect that leads to memory improvement. The benefit of crossword puzzles lies in constantly stimulating your mind. When they start to seem simple, the challenge is gone. Switch up the games you play to include word searches, Sudoku, and other newspaper puzzles. The American Alzheimer’s Association endorses Sudoku for increasing active brain cells and promoting a healthier mind. Experts found these games improve memory and lower chances for dementia in older adults.
Lumosity improves cognitive abilities by stimulating different areas of the brain, including parts responsible for problem solving, memory, and attention span. As adults age, the brain begins to lose connections, which can impair memory. Lumosity keeps your mind sharp with hundreds of games and puzzles proven to benefit information recollection. Created by neuroscientists, Lumosity has been shown to battle dementia and stave off memory loss, improving memory retention as you age.
Try out Lumosity for a small monthly fee or use Memorado, a similar puzzle site that is free, to begin playing fun memory games for adults.
Chess, Checkers, and Backgammon
When you think of chess players, you immediately imagine hyper-intelligent individuals. This correlation is not a coincidence. Playing chess regularly raises your IQ, but in older adults it can actually help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a study performed by the New England Journal of Medicine, seniors over 75 that engaged in mentally strenuous activities like chess and checkers were less likely to develop signs of dementia compared to adults over 75 that did not regularly play. These games encourage your brain to create responsive patterns for strategic moves that lead to victory and ultimately foster memory growth.
Along with analytical growth, playing games like chess, backgammon, and checkers increases creativity. These mental games exercise both sides of the brain, increasing originality by requiring the brain to make quick decisions on chess positions and your competitor’s impending moves. Planning your moves in these games increases your problem-solving skills over time and requires your complete concentration to win.
These classic competitor games are like constantly changing puzzles. You must outwit a cunning opponent to succeed, leading to a challenging yet stimulating memory game.
National Institute of Health
Scientifically, playing chess and other strategic games grows dendrites in the brain, which are branches that send signals from one neuron cell to another. These branches function as antennas, picking up signals from other brain cells. Games like chess makes these antennas stronger, allowing your brain to transmit more signals and build new memory paths.
Ever struggle to find the right word in conversation? To form a more diverse vocabulary, play Scrabble with a few friends on a regular basis. Set up a weekly game night with neighbors in your community to maintain a consistent schedule. In addition to contributing to a social evening that you can look forward to, Scrabble requires players to dig deep and think abstractly about the letters drawn at every turn.
If you need to work on strategy and logical thinking, try playing Risk, a group game about political domination. This board game uses decision-making skills in which every action has consequences. To win the game, you must sacrifice losses in battle to win the overall “war” of the game. Such strategic thinking makes board games an effective way to stay mentally healthy as you age.
Monopoly combines several strategic and creative abilities to increase brain function. This multi-player game balances constant decisions about budgeting and property acquisition with maintenance of steady business relationships with other players.
Board games let you schedule regular game nights with friends to increase your memory retention while also having fun together. If you eventually get bored with the games listed, try these other board games to keep things interesting.
The Grocery List Game
There are several variations of the grocery list game that improve memory function. This group game involves forming a circle, with the first person starting the game with, “I went to the store and bought…” Each subsequent person adds an item to the end of the sentence, and the object of the game is to remember all items in correct order. The first person that messes up the order or cannot remember the items loses.
This quick and easy game is great to play if you do not have any board games, cards, or other items handy. A few friends are all you need to play. The Grocery List Game tests your ability to recall and properly order lists. The game builds connections and expands your brain’s ability to remember, improving your memory over time. To make the game more personal and challenging, you can replace the starting sentence with any topic, such as, “My favorite books are…” Trying to recall long book titles increases the difficulty of the game.
While these games provide many opportunities to improve mental health, living in a vibrant social community is a great way to keep your mind sharp. Older adults that build strong relationships within their community stay motivated both physically and mentally. Combine memory games with regular social interaction to keep your mind sharp. Use these effective individual and group memory games for adults to improve your mental dexterity as you age.
9 Exercises To Increase Your Brain Power
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published May 2017 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
We all want to hit the gym at some point in our lives in an attempt to get the perfect beach body for the summer, or simply to tone our muscles and stay in shape. Building muscles might be our goal, but how often do we think about building our brain? Chances are that most of the people don’t even realize what a great impact exercise has on our brain and how greatly it helps to boost brain power.
According to several studies and researches, a single exercise session can help enhance our cognitive abilities and improve mental focus better than a cup of coffee can. A study conducted on teens and young adults also found out that 10 to 40 minutes of exercise can give an immediate boost to your brain power and can also increase concentration levels by improving blood flow to the brain.
Hence, here are the top 9 exercises that can help increase your brain power and keep you mentally charged;
Squat your way through brain fatigue
While squats may seem like a very common or mainstream exercise, recent developments have come up with a very unusual twist to it. This upgraded version of squats has been found to improve mental health and has come across as a very useful exercise to alleviate brain fog or any kind of mental dullness.
To get started with this exercise, you need to stand as you normally would when performing a squat with your feet pointing straight and set apart at shoulder width. Then grab your right earlobe with your left hand’s thumb and finger; Repeat the step for your left earlobe and right hand’s fingers. Then lower down in a squat position while breathing in, and breathe out as you stand back up. Continue the movement for a couple of minutes or for as long as you can muster.
According to the Harvard Business School, exercises like this simple but powerful exercise improves memory and thinking skills.
Clear your mind with a set of planks
While giving you a pair of perfectly toned legs, not only do planks give you a full body workout but also help you with mental clarity.
When you are holding a plank or lying down in a plank position, you need to exert all your focus and energy on the move. Although this exercise does require you to use your brain power to execute it perfectly, it also helps relieve all the stress and helps clear the mind. Planks can also work as a great tool for meditation.
It’s important though that you perform this exercise properly to maximize its results. So, start by getting on the floor face down; Use your toes and forearms to rise, keeping your body in a long straight line. Your back should be flat and your abs tucked in. While your legs should be extended out behind you, your head and neck need to be in a neutral position. Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat.
Jump those jacks to kick start your brain
Typically used as a warm-up exercise before starting tough workout regimes, jumping jacks are packed with brain boosting power and ability. They get your blood pumping hard and fast and simultaneously improve its supply to the brain. This, in turn, gives your brain an energy boost which keeps it functioning without wearing out. This kind of activity for just ten minutes can boost brain power.
All you need to perform this exercise effectively is to stand tall with your hands by your side and feet positioned together. Now simultaneously, raise your arms above your head and jump and put your feet to the sides and then bring both arms and feet to starting position. Keep moving back and forth between the jumping and standing position so that your body temperature goes up.
Run for your life
Running may come off as very simple but its benefits and advantages are endless. Research conducted by a team of Australian scientists have concluded and confirmed that running isn’t only great for the heart but is also excellent for the brain and mind.
The research also came up with evidence strong enough to prove that running enhances our cognitive function and helps the brain tremendously. This suggests that an exercise program that includes aerobic exercises along with resistance type training is excellent for your body as well as the brain. So, try running for 30-40 minutes every day and observe great changes in how your brain functions.
Walking never gets old
If all else fails or seems hard to manage, walk. Walking is perhaps one of the most common and effective exercises which gives your body an all-rounder effect. From your brain to your toes, everything is impacted by a few minutes of regular walking.
Research has it that adults who take a stroll few times in a week, experience a great boost in their brainpower and it also lowers the risk of illnesses like Alzheimer’s that rob a person of their memory.
According to the results of an exercise program that involved walking, those in the exercise group did better on cognitive tests and had sharper memories than those who didn’t exercise at all.
A few breathing exercises go a long way
Who knew breathing had something to do with your brainpower! Yes, that’s right! Breath-holding exercises, in particular, have shown great promise and progress in stressful situations. These exercises help a person exert good control over things and allows them full command over their mental reserves.
Holding your breath and then releasing it slowly pushes you into a state of flow where your brain activity gets significantly stimulated. The frequency of electrical impulses greatly increases which gives an energy rush to the brain.
All you are required to do to perform these breathing exercises is sit back and relax, inhale, hold it in for a while and then exhale. Repeat this for as long as you can or till your brain feels active and running again.
Yoga cleanses the soul and mind
Widely practiced worldwide for health benefits and relaxation, yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline that involves certain meditation procedures and exercise postures that target specific body parts. In fact, according to research, the practice of yoga helps boost memory and can also improve brain vitality.
Yoga encompasses numerous exercise postures which are targeted towards specific areas but the one with the shoulder stand improves the supply of blood to the brain the most. This boosts the cells of the brain and helps enhance a person’s memory while also providing it with energy. Another pose called the ‘intense forwarding bending’ pose is particularly beneficial for increasing brain power and sharpening the memory. It helps the blood rush to your brain too which also boosts its function.
Hence, incorporating certain yoga poses in your everyday routine can significantly improve the way your brain functions and also relieves mental stress and anxiety.
Tai Chi: take a leaf out of the Chinese’s books
Typically known as a gentle exercise that originated in China, Tai Chi has come to be known as a form of ‘meditation in motion’, which influences brain activity and works as a great stress reliever.
Numerous studies, conducted to study the effect of Tai Chi on the brain, have concluded that it increases the size of the brain and enhances a person’s memory and thinking, also called brain power.
Other studies also show that a regular tai chi exercise regimen improves cognitive abilities in people, especially the elderly, and also enlarges the brain significantly.
Weight training coupled with resistance exercises
Last but not the least, lifting weights combined with vigorous resistance exercises that involve severe contractions show that these can greatly improve memory and reasoning in people, particularly those that have mild cognitive impairment.
A combination of weight and resistance training exercises also significantly boosts brain power, in people over the age of 50, and evidently, affects an individual’s brain health. Systematic studies that were conducted to assess the influence of weight lifting exercises showed a highly positive impact on brain capacity, alertness, attention, and memory. Resistance training also brings about a distinct effect on executive function and working memory.
While numerous people also resort to taking brain-boosting foods and supplements, for example various super foods, vega protein and herbs, which also works really well for the brain, these exercises are a sure shot towards giving energy to your brain and improving its function. So, make sure you include some of these exercises in your workout regime to enjoy their maximum benefits.
7 Most Effective Brain Exercises to Improve Your Memory, Attention and Performance
Who doesn’t like to be brainy? We all secretly wish to be able to calculate huge numbers in our mind without touching the calculator, or answer any quiz about world affairs, geography, science and arts in a matter of seconds. Growing up too, what we all commonly prayed for, was to be brainy enough to score high in school tests, be smarter than our peers, and thus escape scoldings from our parents.
The human brain is a fascinating organ, which contains billions of nerves that are responsible for carrying out various functions of the body. The brain is divided into specific areas, and each part is involved in carrying out a set of responsibilities, including vision, memory, motor functions, language, breathing, sleep and balance among others. It is a vital organ that connects all the other organs in the body and keeps them working efficiently as you go about your daily activities. This is the reason why it is important to keep it active and young.
“Our thoughts and dreams, our memories and experiences, all arise from this strange neural material. Who we are is found within its intricate firing patterns of electrochemical pulses. When that activity stops, so do you. When that activity changes character, due to injury or drugs, you change character in lockstep. Unlike any other part of your body, if you damage a small piece of your brain, who you are, is likely to change radically,” says author David Eagleman in his book The Brain: The Story of You.
The Matter of the Brain
While the brain is an extremely smart organ capable of carrying out various tasks, it is also good to put it to a test every once in a while. The more you challenge it, the more it will learn and evolve, and as such, will stay active too. Certain parts of the brain, especially the area of the frontal lobe (prefrontal cortex) and the hippocampus play a vital role in learning, memory and other complex mental activities.
“The key thing for brain performance is not the number of cells we have but the number and quality of connections between them. In the brain, we not only have a very large number of neurons (one type of brain cell) but also an almost unimaginably large number of potential connections among them: There are 100 billion neurons and a potential 100 trillion connections,” states author Charles Phillips in his book Stay Smart: 100 Exercises to Keep Your Brain Sharp.
He further adds, “The brain makes connections among its neurons when we learn new skills or information, when we ensure that we are engaged by what we do, and when we are mentally stimulated. Remain mentally active and you help protect yourself against the effects of natural decline.”
This is why our elders have always encouraged us to learn new skills and different art forms. Learning something new is the key, which include activities like art, cooking, puzzle solving, learning to play a musical instrument, participating in plays, so on and so forth. Even 30 minutes of morning walk can work wonders in charging up your brain because this is the time when certain useful rays of the sun gets absorbed, which then works in many ways to help it perform better.
“On average, it’s said that we use just 25 per cent of our brain’s capacity. Yet by flexing our mental muscles regularly, we can create new neural pathways in the brain – and our thoughts become a physical reality. With a little brain training, we can all get smarter,” states author Joel Levy in his book, The Brain Power Workout.
Brain Exercises for a Smarter You
Here are some simple brain exercises you can do on a daily basis to keep your brain young –
1. The Memory Game
Who remembers the memory game we used to play as children? The stack of cards with pairs of buses, cars, fruits, vegetables and all sorts of objects that were shuffled and arranged in neat rows and we had to match the pairs solely through the power of our memory. That’s an excellent brain exercise. Another easy game is to pay close attention to your surroundings on your way to or back from work, and then draw out a map of the route with all that you remember of seeing. And check it out the next day. With time, you will also become more attentive of your surroundings.
2. The Arithmetic Way
As much as majority of us hate maths, the truth is that it is an excellent way of exercising the brain. No, we are not asking you to add up big numbers within seconds or multiply three digit numbers (or even two digits for that matter). But partake in simple maths and challenge yourself as you progress. Get back to basics and start with counting tables. Then do the series of squares and cubes.
3. Brain Training Games
We all know Sudoku, which is a fantastic brain training game, and also Minesweeper. But we live in the digital world, so let’s make use of technology. Search for brain training games online and there will be various websites that will pop up with an extensive range of games. Sign into any website and start playing. As simple as that! Most of them are formulated in such a manner to train your cognitive skills – memory, attention, speed, mental flexibility, emotional intelligence etc. These games include matching colours, remembering patterns, testing speed, applying logic, and other simple games which are also a lot of fun and a good way to pass time.
4. Fun with Words
Name, Place, Animal, Things – this would definitely rank high as one of the all-time favourite games. Not only is it an excellent way to increase your knowledge, but sharpen your memory too. Scrabbles is a great exercise as well. Another popular way to remember words is by Mnemonics, a practise where you try to connect a group of words by phrases to remember them better. Remember your geography class and the common trick to memorise the nine planets? My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets! Mnemonics are a handy way of committing dry facts to memory. Try to challenge yourself to remember all the names of the rivers in your state, the city names, or capitals of different countries using mnemonics. There are so many options. Do one everyday!
5. The Power of Food
Love cooking? You may already be smarter than others who don’t. Cooking is one skill which makes use of all your senses to be able to create that perfect dish – smell, sight, taste, touch and sound. As such, it is a great exercise for the brain. Attempt different recipes and cuisines, and try to play around with unfamiliar ingredients; this way you will improve you attention as well. And while eating, try and identify different smells and flavours of your meal rather than digging straight in to curb the hunger pangs.
6. Puzzle Time
Do you like solving puzzles? If you are just about warming up to the thought, then go the easy way. First, try your hands at jigsaw puzzles. It’s a good exercise for the brain because it helps in refining your hand-eye coordination, and it is a lot of fun too. If you don’t have the time for buying boxes of puzzles, just go online and solve jigsaw puzzles for free. Building blocks is another good exercise!
7. Happiness is the Key
Author Shakuntala Devi states in her book, Super Memory: Ageless Memory in 12 Practical Lessons, “As the Bhagavad Gita says, ‘…From anger results delusion, from delusion results confusion of memory…’ Not only anger, but a scroll of other unhappy emotions can fog you mind: fear, depression, self-pity, envy, grief, hatred, restlessness, anxiety. With this mist overhanging your mind, your senses can get dulled to the point where you are not registering even your immediate environment or experiences.” It is therefore essential to stay happy, which also helps boost your brain to perform better. So release those happy hormones by working out, trekking, dancing, meditating or anything that makes you the happiest.
Can Exercise Improve Memory?
You already know that exercising helps you build strong muscles, maintain a healthy weight, and ward off disease. But research suggests that working out also improves memory, boosts thinking skills, and encourages brain cells to grow as we age. Any form of exercise will do, particularly anything that involves focused movement or requires learning new skills. Physical activity also tends to improve mood, sleep habits, and stress levels—all of which can cause, or lead to, cognitive impairment later on in life. Here’s what experts have to say about how exercise can improve memory.
Worried about fitting a workout into your already busy schedule? Aaptiv has classes as short as 10 minutes.
It preserves your ability to think, reason, and remember.
“Regular aerobic exercise may increase the size of the hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for learning and verbal memory,” explains Dr. Vernon Williams, sports neurologist and director of The Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. “And, these benefits aren’t for senior citizens alone. In short, exercise can change the brain for the better, and by doing so, can help to protect thinking skills and memory in anybody.”
Dr. Lee Know, a licensed naturopathic physician and author, says that physical activity creates an increased demand for energy, which fuels your brain. Working out is crucial if you’re interested in keeping to your ability to remember a phone number, think abstractly, or plan for a future event. “Exercise is one of the only things definitively proven to boost, or at least maintain, long-term cognitive health, and reduce the risk of dementia, like Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Know.
The research backs it up. A 2011 study indicates that exercise is highly effective at helping your brain store long-term memories, as well as remember people, places, and things. In other findings, workouts with balance and coordination aspects directly impact brain structure for the better. And regular strength training sessions can improve task performance. In another study, exercising four hours after learning something new proved to help with information retention.
It boosts mental performance.
“I’ve seen first-hand the incredible benefits that even the slightest amount of regimented exercise can have,” says Dr. Williams. “Although medications can play an important role in pain and disease management, they have their limitations. Generally speaking, any type of exercise that is good for your heart is also good for your brain. But, some exercises that have the greatest impact on both tend to focus on coordination, rhythm, and strategy.”
He cites dancing as one example. This supports a 2013 study in Frontiers in Aging Science where one hour of dance per week for six months bolstered cognitive wellbeing for elderly participants. A different study from that year in the Journal of Aging Research focused on a group of women who performed better on all cognitive tests after six months of either endurance or weight training. In 2014, a Pediatrics study argued that physical activity improved brain health and function for more than 200 school-aged children. And in 2015, the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport researchers discovered that kids could benefit from better attention spans when lessons alternated with 20-minute sessions of aerobics.
Why does this happen? Because exercise, generally speaking, also bulks up your brain. It can increase levels of a protein called BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which coaxes the creation of new brain cells.
So what are you waiting for? Boost your mental performance today with Aaptiv.
It reduces your risk of developing diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Some researchers estimate more than 100 million people worldwide will be diagnosed with dementia by the year 2050, Dr. Williams says. But he views the benefits of exercise as an example of hope. Dr. Morton Tavel, clinical professor emeritus of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, agrees. He again notes how much research exists that indicates that exercise can lower the risk of the development of memory-loss diseases.
Dr. Tavel says that in 2013, a preventative medicine clinic studied midlife fitness levels for almost 20,000 adults, as well as the subsequent development of dementia in advanced age. Those with high fitness levels were 36 percent less likely to develop dementia. “Why the brain responds so favorably to exercise is uncertain, but at least one previous study that used brain imaging showed that brain shrinkage, normally found in aging, could be retarded by regular exercise, a finding that raises intriguing possibilities,” notes Dr. Tavel.
It keeps your brain engaged and active.
“Physical exercise alone has not yet been proven 100 percent to increase our memory skills, even though we are closer to more data on that,” states Dr. Joe Bates, a psychiatrist and pediatrician who leads the Tyler VA Clinic in Texas. “However, what has been proven is this: Kind-to-the-body, healthy, balanced exercise improves the ability we have to make better choices in life, as it also increases feel-good hormones and serotonin levels. Why would a hormone help us with an improved memory? Because it allows us to feel more confident, emotionally stable, and to want to engage with life. Trying new things and keeping our brains challenged increases our memory-ability. We’re constantly asking the brain to build new neural connections. And, with new brain power, comes a better memory,” he adds.
Any exercise helps.
Start by maintaining a regular workout routine well before you’re at risk for age-related memory loss; this will help protect your brain. And give yourself permission to continually switch things up on the exercise front. Cardio will keep your brain sharp, but activities such as yoga will improve focus and concentration. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you choose, just that you’re doing it. Aim for moderate-intensity physical activity for at least thirty minutes, three times a week. This will help prevent any thinking impairment and goes hand-in-hand with current recommendations, says Taval.
“While exercise can have an extremely positive effect on the brain in terms of mood, memory, performance, and pain management, it is still important to talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine,” advises Dr. Williams. “There is no sense in starting off strong only to sideline your efforts with injury. With a deliberate plan in place and clearance from your doctor, you’ll be reaping the brain-boosting rewards in no time.”
Now that you know how exercise can boost memory, don’t wait, get started on a fitness routine today with Aaptiv.
A Revolutionary Assessment Integrated in your Mental Training and Mental Exercises
Mental training is an important part of your mental health. Training your mind regularly can help you train your cognition and the different cognitive skills that you use in your daily life.
CogniFit has developed a number of different training exercises that are specifically designed to assess and train your mind. Using the latest discoveries in neuroscience, CogniFit validates its program with independent researchers and publish studies on the effectiveness of its mental training programs.
Over time, our cognitive abilities such as our memory or hand-eye coordination tend to decline. It is important to keep those cognitive skills in top shape to remain sharp and enjoy our daily life and experiences. training and brain fitness are an important part of a healthy lifestyle as you use a large number of your cognitive skills everyday. For example, having a strong memory is a key element in a productive and enjoyable lifestyle. Mental training can help you improve your memory.
Today, people recognized the need to keep the brain fit and healthy in a similar manner as our body. By training regularly with CogniFit, you will better understand your cognitive health and gain the tool to train the cognitive abilities that you need the most.
As soon as you complete your assessment, CogniFit will provide you with a reliable measure of your cognitive strength. Our patented technology will then create a personalized training regimen that fits your needs. You will gain insights about your cognitive abilities and learn how to improve them with tailored mental exercises and mental training. You can also decide what kind of training you would like to do and what cognitive skills you would like to train.
All the mental training exercices are available online so you can start your brain training easily whenever you want. The brain exercises are fun and simple to do. Start assessing and training your cognitive skills today and improve your health and overall fitness!