It is a fact that, as we age, our brain function declines; however, exercising our brain can help us keep mentally active and sharp for very long. There are multiple methods and ideas to exercise our brain, and the best is that they can be carried out during our free time at home. From puzzles and crosswords to online games and apps, I share some options with you to keep our mind sharp, particularly during the quarantine times where the lock-downs can drive crazy more than one! So let’s take advantage of our free time, the cosiness of home and get the brain ready for some training sessions while having fun!
Why to exercise our brain
According to the Harvard Medical School, our brain can learn and grow as we age, but we have to train it regularly for it to do so.
This process is called brain plasticity and consist of the brain’s ability to form and reorganize connections between brain cells in response to new tasks. In the long run, brain plasticity fosters our cognitive skills, leading us to keep bright and clear our thinking and memory abilities.
Furthermore, Medical News Today published an article that mentions the links between brain training and improved cognitive functioning. For example, back in 2016, the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found that older adults who devote 1 hour of their days to brain training sessions were 48% less likely to develop cognitive decline or dementia over 10 years.
With so much potential and benefits from brain exercising activities, wouldn’t it be cool to take a chance during our free time to improve functions like memory recall, problem-solving, concentration, and attention to details? Particularly during the coronavirus outbreak, one of the healthy ways to cope with social distancing and home isolation is to invest in ourselves and our long-term health.
Let’s check some options! I classify them in board games, general games, websites, apps and activities that can be easily accessible from your computer at home or be undusted from your cupboard.
Games to boost our brain function
- Sudoku: good to improve short-term memory and attention to detail. Here you can find free online sudokus to try out. You can also go for the offline version books.
- Crosswords: excellent option to improve memory, concentration and prevent memory-oriented diseases. Crosswords are available in newspapers and mini-books, but if you are home without these resources, games aarp crosswords, boatload puzzles crosswords, the Smithsonian Universal Crossword Puzzle , or The Guardian crosswords are good options, for not mentioning all the other websites and apps offering crosswords.
- Solitaire: a typical game to be played while being bored, but don’t be surprised; it helps us prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s. This game is good for training thinking and memory skills. If you do not have a solitaire already on your computer, you can access an online solitaire here or play online solitaire here.
- Construction blocks: you can also call them Legos since they are better referenced and known as such. Playing with Legos help to build spatial skills, math and engineering skills. Time to borrow the blocks from your kids, unpack some childhood memory boxes, or you can also access the online option for building blocks here
Board games to exercise our brain
- Ticket to ride: it helps you improve your strategic and logical thinking skills. Suppose you have it home, time to take it out of the box and start playing. If not, here you can an online and app versions of ticket to ride.
- Risk: build strategy, logical thinking and decision making skills.
- Carcassonne: it helps to build logical thinking and long-term strategic thinking. For those without the game at home, here you can find the online Carcassonne.
- Dixit: good to develop your creativity and originality. Here you can enjoy the online version of Dixit.
- Bohnanza: good for logical thinking, strategy and planning. There is an online version of bohnanza available here.
There are many more games available that I will list in one of my upcoming blog posts. Follow me on Instagram to see new updates.
Websites to help exercise our brain
- Luminosity: available on desktop and app, it helps us improve memory, increase focus and feel sharper. There are speed, memory, attention, flexibility, problem-solving, word and math games suggested to you based on your preferences. You can check more information about Luminosity here.
- Happy Neuron: designed to train our memory, stimulate concentration, work on reactivity, logic and confidence. They offer a 7-day free trial. You can check more information about Happy Neuron here.
- My Brain Trainer: This is a membership-based website. They offer reaction time, memory, visual-spatial skills, information processing and working memory exercises. Their monthly brain trainer challenge allows us to have one free exercise per month. You can check My Brain Trainer here.
- Braingle: this website offers puzzles, trivia, games, quizzes, IQ tests and an entire online community to interact with. You can check more information about Braingle here.
- Braingymmer: claimed to the online gym for your brain, this website helps us with memory, concentration, perception, logic and speed. You can go to the site and train or create a free account to track your progress. Check more information about Braingymmer here.
If you have more recommendations about websites to exercise your brain functions, leave the information in the comments or in
Apps to work on our brain function
- Elevate: the app helps to boost productivity, earning power and self-confidence. They offer personalized training and improvement tracking. You can explore more about elevating here.
- Peak: this option helps improving concentration, memory, mental agility, language, and problem-solving. As the app creators say, start playing smarter! check more information about peak here
- Mensa Brain Training: created by Mensa, one of the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world, the app covers the five areas of memory, concentration, agility, perception and reasoning while providing the Mensa Brain Index based on the personal performance. Mensa brain training is available in ios.
- Fit Brains: created by an education technology software, the bets are high in this app. Apart from traditional cognitive skills, the app helps us build emotional intelligence, social skills, social awareness, self-awareness, and self-control through its games. Fit Brains is available for android here.
- Cognifit: focused on short-term memory, planning, hand-eye coordination, and auditory perception, this app offers tests, stimulation and tools for professionals. You can check more information about cognifit here.
- One Brain: based on yes/no questions, the app helps us train both hemispheres of our brains. You can download one brain app for ios or download one brain app for android.
I am happy to check other apps that you have found useful to train your brain, please leave them in the comments below or send me an email with the information.
Additional activities to help our brain
Apart from games available online and offline, there are also daily life activities that can help us train our brains. Let’s check some ideas:
- Train your vocabulary: listing daily-use words with their meaning or learning a specific amount of new words per day.
- Dancing: either playing some music at home and dancing or taking some online dancing classes.
- Be more aware of your senses: while cooking or eating, one can pay extra attention to the ingredients’ visuals, smell, and taste.
- Listen to music: pay attention to the melody, lyrics and instruments playing.
- Practice Tai Chi: apart from improving your memory and training your brain, it improves sleep quality and helps manage and reduce stress.
- Break the routine: use your non-dominant hand to do the daily chores (when possible), do things in a different order, etc.
- Refine hand-eye abilities: take a hobby that involves your motor skills such as painting, building something, knitting, assembling something.
- Meditate: for some people, this can be a bit boring and difficult (including me!), but meditation does not need to be a hassle. We can start by analysing the day, what was done, achieved, grateful for the experiences and planning our next day before bed.
- Eat with chopsticks from time to time: challenging, no? but apart from helping you building good food consumption habits and slowing down your food intake, it also helps increase concentration and attention to details.
A healthy lifestyle, good food habits and exercises will keep being the baseline to foster a healthy brain activity. If you have more tips and ideas, feel free to share in the comments!
Last thoughts about brain training at home
Since it is advised to self-quarantine and be social distant to protect ourselves and others during this pandemic, let’s also remember our mental health and happiness. I hope the resources above help us “flatten the curve”, invest in our life and keep our brain sharp and functioning for many years.
Remember to share your comments and recommendations below. I’d love to hear from you on TintoHub social media. Feel free to connect!