You can exercise your brain by forcing it to do familiar things in different ways, this helps activate regions in your brains that may not get much use. You need to keep working your brain out in order to keep it fit, like any muscle in your body. Neglecting your brain can make age-related memory loss occur sooner and progress faster, but the American Medical Association has found that doing new and different things, and doing old things in new ways, can help delay aging and keep your mind young. How can you work out your brain and keep it fit?
Make your regular routine less regular. There are plenty of things you do every day using your procedural memory. When things become so routine that they require no effort, they also require a lot less brain power. You can make your brain work harder by changing your activities until they cannot be performed automatically. Try brushing your teeth with your other hand, or walking backwards to the car in the morning. Eat your spaghetti with chopsticks, and balance your pen on your finger as you walk through the office. Change the senses you use to do regular things, try getting dressed with your eyes closed, or have a sign-language-only dinner with your friends. Take a new route to the store, or try shopping at a different grocery store.
Play games. Word games like Scrabble and Taboo help build the language centers in your brain. Trivial Pursuit and similar trivia games can help exercise your long-term memory. Not only are games fun and social, they also give your brain a workout through problem-solving and other challenges. Games that rely on luck and dice-rolls aren't nearly as much of a mental workout as strategy, word, and trivia games. Don't get stuck on one or two favorite games either. You may really love Scrabble, but a game like Ticket to Ride that involves planning train routes across a map can challenge your brain in a whole new way. For the best memory-boosting play, keep trying new games.
Go dancing. Studies have shown that dancing is an excellent way to increase your brain power. With each new step you learn, your brains makes a multitude of new connections. Not only do dancers get a good physical workout, they also get a major mental workout. The brain is in constant motion while dancing, making connections through music and movement as well as through verbal direction. Any kind of dance can help, from ballroom and swing to ballet and hip hop. Dancing also improves balance, coordination, and posture. It's a whole-body therapy that is good for mind, body, and soul.
Listen to a new type of music. It seems simple, but listening to a novel type of music can help build new connections, the same way other novel sensory information can help. If you regularly listen to pop, tune into some classical music. Try listening to some ethnic music you haven't heard before. Spend some time exploring the music of the world, you may find something you like while you build your brain power.
Learn something new. The key to a good memory and a healthy brain is to keep using what you have. One of the best ways to do this is by learning a new skill. Many people feel that they cannot learn to play the piano or tap dance if they did not begin as a child or young adult. The truth is that learning new skills like these is an important way to improve memory and keep the brain healthy. Find something that interests you, and sign up for a class. Take classes at your local community center or college. Brush up on your algebra, or learn to work a computer. Learn to repair your own car, or read a compass. Learn to play an instrument, or learn how to knit. New skills help build your brain power.
Stay social. Whether you are elderly, a busy business manager, or a stay at home mother, socialization is an often overlooked brain exercise. Whether you are having lunch with a friend or attending a party, interacting with friends helps give your mind a break and lets you use some very different parts of your brain. If you need to study for something important, consider having a friend or two help. You might not repeat the information as many times, but you are likely to remember that word that somebody mispronounced that started you all laughing. Especially if you don't get out often, getting a cup of coffee or joining a neighbor on a walk can give your brain a workout just like walking backwards can.