222 is a number that is thought to represent the state of perfect balance. According to Carl Jung, it is the union of masculine and feminine principles, or the meeting place between the conscious and subconscious minds. Today is 2-22-22 – lots of 2’s there! I’m wishing perfect balance for us all today!
Boosting brain power is on our minds as we get beyond 50 years old. Here are some simple things that you can do which are fun, and boost your brain at the same time!
At the beginning of the pandemic my brother Joe and I each got Harry Potter’s wizard chess as gifts and began playing chess one evening a week. It was fun, allowed us to catch up with each other, and see each other as we played via Zoom!
In a study that appeared in Cognitive Brain Research, researchers performed MRI scans on chess players. They revealed activity in both the left and right hemispheres of the frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes of the brain. This indicated that a single game of chess can stimulate planning, follow-through, attention, impulse control, directional sense, and visual-spatial ability. That’s a lot of brainpower payoff for enjoying a fun game of chess!
These days, everyone around here has a jigsaw puzzle on a table in their home. This is good news because working on a jigsaw puzzle also activates multiple areas of the brain, making it a wonderful mental exercise to have fun with. Putting puzzle pieces together requires concentration and improves short-term memory and problem-solving. One recent study explored the idea that solving jigsaw puzzles could help prevent neurocognitive disorders and also found that it appears to benefit cognition. Cool!
I love this one; I used to do this and had forgotten all about it in recent years, but I’ll start again TODAY! Learn a new word a day. You don’t have to read the whole dictionary! Just open it up, pick a word, memorize and practice using it, and you’ll boost your brain! Research has found that our working memory can only hold so much information. Learning new words actually helps our brain to create more ways of retaining information. Research also shows that when we learn a new word, it triggers the reward centers of the brain, making it a pleasurable activity. A larger vocabulary allows for greater expression and builds confidence, too.
Dance, dance, dance! Another favorite of mine!
Taking a dance class means learning new steps and moving to the rhythm of music in a social setting. This provides multiple brain health benefits by activating your brain in several areas. Music stimulates the brain’s reward centers and the social connection can elevate low mood. We all know that aerobic exercise releases feel-good hormones that relieve stress, and dancing can be quite aerobic! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, learning new dance moves can increase your brain’s processing speed and memory. It’s never too late in life to enjoy dance: research on people over the age of 75 found that dance is associated with a lower risk of dementia.
Engaging in any of these activities makes your brain more resilient. When combined with a combination of a brain-healthy diet, exercise, and restorative sleep, you can make great strides in improving your brain health, in terms of mood, focus, and cognitive function!
Below is a short video of another fun tool called Super Brain Yoga. Try it with me!
Best of Health,