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Top Real-World Brain Exercises that Actually Work

To stay happy and healthy and in full operation the body needs consistent exercise and proper nutrition. Without consistency, your muscles and mind can begin to atrophy. When it comes to the muscles it is mass and power that are the first to go with lack of exercise. In the brain, it is the capacity for cognitive reserve that suffers the most.

Further brain atrophy can lead to a loss of resilience to neurological damage. Without which the brain and its tissues can’t withstand the effects of age and prevent memory loss. Once the degenerative conditions form, it can make the simplest mental tasks seem daunting.

But just as consistent weight training can improve your fitness levels and lead to better muscle form, throughout your life, many health experts believe that living a brain-healthy life and committing to a rigid routine of brain exercises can lead to an increased cognitive reserve.

The Scientific Findings

Plenty of research has been performed on how we can preserve the full function of our brain. In one of the most profound studies performed on the connection between lifestyles and the effects they have on the brain, researchers found that those who practice several healthy behaviors in their life are at an advantage when warding off the effects of dementia.

The study was completed in 2013 and the results posted in the PLOS (Public Library of Science) ONE Journal. It included a close look at over 2 thousand men over the age of 30, their performance and participation in five healthy habits were recorded and their final results measured. These five healthy habits included non-smoking, increased quantities of fruits and veggies in their diet, optimal BMI, low alcohol intake and regular physical activity. 

The results showed that those who participated in four or more of these healthy life habits were 60% more likely to avoid brain deterioration and dementia in the future. We see from this study that good nutritional intake and regular exercise are the most important preventative measure against neurological decline. 

Avoiding ruts and braking from boredom is also crucial. The brain looks to absorb new information, many researchers have concluded that dementia is a greater factor when people pay less attention to the things happening around them. When the brain has become passive, it is more susceptible to atrophy. Which is why hours in front of the TV can have a detrimental effect on the brain over time.

10 Real-World Brain Exercises That Actually Work

In addition to sticking to a healthy routine of mental fitness and proper nutrition, there are plenty of practical ways to keep the brain healthy and performing to the maximum even after your golden years roll by.  

It won’t even cost you that much. While there is plenty of software solutions for keeping the brain healthy, medical science has yet to show any promising benefits to those adults over the age of 30. Another study found in PLOS Medicine detailed a study on close to 5 thousand participants who used 52 different cognitive improving softwares. In the end there was scant evidence that these software solutions were an effective method of improving brain performance. 

Experts say you will get better results looking for “real-world”activities that kick the brain into gear and make you break away from the normal mental process in your life. The importance is to make sure the activity is novel and a challenge. After that, just about any silly idea could work. 

Try driving home via a different route, eating a meal with your opposite hand or even recalling the lyrics to a song you heard without the music playing. The brain works through associations, which is why the words will be easier to recall if you hear the music. Therefore, the more sensory memory you apply to an activity the more mental power must be applied to the task. This is the equivalent of mental bench pressing.

Some great opportunities will show up in your morning paper. Sudoku, word games and other puzzles are a great way to sharpen the mind. Comic strips where you have to find differences between two pictures are another good exercise. But after this there are plenty of other things to do to increase mental power and stamina, here are a few examples:

Memorize a list - Grocery items, to-do lists and lists of every other type and sort can be committed to memory and recollected an hour or so later. See how much of the list stays in your memory, with practice this can be greatly improved. Create longer and more complex lists as you improve. Then challenge your school-aged relatives to “Grandma’s Toy Chest” — winner beats dementia!


Listen and resonate with the music - Appreciating music in itself is nourishing to the brain. If you are so inclined, try taking up an artl like playing a musical instrument or singing in a band or choir. Such long lasting studies are great for keeping the mind young and limber.


Skip the calculator - Use your head to figure out the math. Skip the calculator and use pencil and paper if you have to, but then try to phase these out and begin to complete the calculations with brain projections alone. You can also make the task more difficult and effective by walking at the same time.

Take up a Cooking Class - Cooking is a skill that incorporates all the senses into the production of a work of art. By using a variety of different brain functions you can be sure of a well-rounded workout for your brain and cognitive functions.


Learn a new language - It takes serious listening as well as hearing (and understanding the difference) to pick up a new language and speak with culture and fluency. But even the capacity to communicate effectively in a new language introduces you to a wealth of vocabulary that reduces the effects of cognitive decline. To include more parts of the brain in this activity create word pictures. Think of the sounds at the beginning and end of your new words and try to think of other words that begin or end in the same way.


Draw a map - After you get home from a new location you have visited, try to recollect the area around your recent destination. Draw a map that describes the relation to various spots you visited. Repeat this exercise each time you visit a new location and improve your accuracy and precision in cartography.


In conclusion - The world is rife with ways you can challenge our mind and improve cognitive fitness and only you can decide how far to take this. From learning a new sport to exploring the fascinating world of culinary appreciation there is an abundance of ways to improve the performance of the mind and preserving it for future use with regular wholesome exercise.


Hi! We’re Team Neuro, aficionados of all things brain-related, from creativity to working out. With backgrounds in art, science, and athletics, we love delving into all the potentials of the human body.

We also created the world's first sugar-free nootropic energy gum that utilizes the effects of caffeine and L-theanine, made to help you optimize your mind — anywhere, anytime. Find out more here.


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