Playing a brain training app, meditating on an adult color book, or solving a Sudoku puzzle are said to be simple ways to improve memory, increase processing speed, and provide an overall workout for your brain. As popular as these activities are, they are still seen as quackery. Notable brain game, Lumosity, made headlines back in 2016 when they agreed to settle $2 million with the Federal Trade Commission on their false claims that users enjoyed a bump in IQ.
While there’s no harm in challenging yourself with a puzzle, this cannot be the only measure you’re taking to add more wrinkles to the old noggin. As anyone in this industry knows, nothing is easy! However, those who are Agile minded know that bitesize tasks are key, so a little practice everyday can surprise you. Here are a handful of ways we can try to increase brainpower.
• Surround yourself. The world around you can really influence your mood and actions. Gravitate towards positive people that you find aspirational and you will find yourself blossoming.
• Learn a new musical instrument. Studies show that children who have learned a musical instrument have had lasting benefits on the brain. This doesn’t mean it’s too late for you. National Geographic covered a study where adults who have received six months of piano lessons showed increased gains in memory, verbal fluency, and other cognitive functions.
• Pick up a foreign language. Not only are you expanding your vocabulary, but also you’re learning about a culture. There are a slew of known brain benefits, but the claim that it can delay dementia stands out from the rest.
• Go out and exercise. Regular exercise can help stave off mental decline that comes with many physical disease. According to Harvard Health, this is due to exercise’s ability to reduce insulin resistance and reduce inflammation which aids in new brain cells.
• Get unfamiliar. Change can be difficult, but experiencing new things can create connections in areas of your brain that have never been used before. This is why vacations feel long and your daily routines feel fast – known as the oddball effect, your brain is taking in more information while traveling and collapsing the familiar into categories. It’s a good excuse to take that trip you’ve always wanted to go on!
Of course talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words. And cliches are overused. But, I am practicing what I preach! I’m surrounded by the talented people at Fishermen Labs who are all teaching me a thing or two (or a hundred); I’m learning the ukulele; I’ve picked up Japanese and I’m shy of hitting my daily Fitbit goals of 10k steps a day. Feel free to reach out on Twitter or Facebook with ways you’re engaging your mind. Maybe you’ll enlighten us all!