The brain is the most complex organ of the body. It is kind of like an escape room, where you have multiple elements of different functionality that come together to work as one in order for the whole process to make sense. There are so many different constituent parts of the brain, and you need all of them to work together in harmony for you to have perfect cognitive abilities. Can you believe that an organ that just weighs about 3 pounds and is 15 centimeters long on average controls the entire body? It is such a crucial organ that if it gives up, none of the other organs or the processes inside you can remain functional. So, it is pretty evident that such a vital body part should need as much care and exercise to stay healthy as the rest of your body.
Studies have shown that our cognitive skills begin to decline as we age. This can start as early as in our 20s. Over 40% of the world’s population running at a high risk of dementia is between 25-54 years. Another group consisting of 18% individuals is 55 years of age and above. Natural signs of mental aging can include weaker memory and disrupted hand-eye coordination. This factor, however, is not uniform and depends on each individual independently, which could include genetics, amongst other reasons. This information is not pleasant and can seem very daunting to know. However, this is where brain exercises come into play. Also, it is notable that it is never too late to take your mental fitness seriously and work towards improving it.
What are brain exercises?
Brain exercises are activities that allow your brain to put to use its cognitive skills. Often these brain exercises involve games that require you to put forth your intelligence, often requiring you to be more imaginative and think outside the box.
‘Practice makes one perfect.’ Mentally challenging exercises are important as they require constant efforts, hence, resulting in learning and getting better. Brain exercises hone memory, focus, and problem-solving skills and offer room to be tactical and creative. It offers the brain with variations to break the patterns it has been conditioned to think in and come up with new ideas.
There must be an activity challenging enough to keep the mind healthy. It should neither be too tough nor too easy. Anything done in moderation yields great results. Hence, the key here is to maintain that moderation. If the challenge is too easy, it will not take long for the brain to become habitual, and if it is going to be too difficult, one can end up feeling defeated. Adopting new habits results in building up new neural circuits that will help with tackling any new challenge that comes our way.
Puzzle games and exercises that help boost your brain
The above discussion now brings us to talk about certain games that help in boosting your brain and cognitive skills. Some of these games are classics that you can find online and offline, while some can only be found on one platform, either online or offline.
They are starting off with the most classic game out there. Sudoku is a number placing game, where the player is required to place numbers between 1 to 9. The numbers should be placed in such a manner that they should not be repeated vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
Sudoku can be played on paper or on your phones and tablets. For any classic sudoku game experience, you can play it daily in the newspaper, buy a puzzle book, or download an app. We would suggest you play sudoku on the easy level when beginning and eventually move on to the higher levels as you progress. Sudoku is a great game if one wants to sharpen his/her short-term memory and analytical skills.
Yet another very classic grid game that you can come across in the daily newspaper, buy a booklet of or just simply download an app for. Crossword puzzles are a word game wherein the player is given one sentence prompts and is supposed to come up with single-word answers whose alphabets must coincide with the alphabets of answers to other prompts. Another version of the game requires the players to find out arrangements of letters that make meaning out of other random arrangements. These words could be found vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Crosswords allow one to put their verbal knowledge to the test and sharpen their memories.
- Stroop test
The Stroop test is a very popular game that has names of the colors and the actual color of the font they are written in. Now, what is required of you to do is to recite aloud all the font colors those words are written in.
It is not at all easy. It may seem very simple and come across as easy. But we promise you, once you start playing, it most definitely is a challenge.
The Stroop test helps in making your cognitive capabilities more flexible and increases mental vitality. Moreover, your executive functions like attention, inhibition, and self-regulation have to be extremely strong to be successful.
- Escape rooms
Escape rooms have been a growing phenomenon around the world. This brain game gives your gray matter an excellent mental exercise with the thrill and a whole bunch of skill sets one can develop when playing an escape room game. Escape rooms offer a number of different themes and genres to choose from, with a thrilling plot and story to follow.
Escape rooms test one’s mental ability in a number of ways. The games follow a plot that usually requires the players to look for clues, connect the dots, and get out of the room in a specific amount of time. And, the puzzles are not easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Since you are to follow a storyline, you have to be original, think outside the box, and be organized. They are an excellent way to hone your deductive skills and think creatively.
Escape room experiences are second to none, for every time that you would go, it is always going to be something new. Plus, escape rooms also help in the development of team-building, time management, teamwork, and leadership skills, amongst several other mental benefits.
- Rubik’s cube
Ah, the good old Rubik's cube. All of us have owned at least one Rubik's cube sometime in our lives. And, obviously tried to solve the very daunting puzzle game. While we are pretty sure that 99.99999% of you are very familiar with this puzzle game, we are still going to go ahead and give a brief description of the game. The Rubik's cube is a 3D puzzle game that requires the players to arrange the colored squares in their uniform pattern, that is, one side should entirely be red, one yellow, and so on.
We are aware that there are a ton of videos out there that teach you how to solve one, but remembering the steps to it also requires you to put your memory to the test. The Rubik's cube is a classic game to give your brain that much-needed workout. This puzzle game is an excellent way to develop your analytical and problem-solving skills.
All of us have grown up playing this classic picture riddle game. Spot-the-difference is a very simple game where the player is supposed to find and list all the differences between two almost identical pictures (emphasis on ‘almost’).
This game requires analytical skills and hones concentration and focus since the player is supposed to remember the details of both the images and mark the differences accordingly.
A more refined version of this game is ‘what-doesn’t-belong,’ where the differences get even minute and require much more attention
Lumosity is an online brain training platform. The user just needs to register on the platform and enjoy three brain game exercises daily or go for their subscription plan where you can get many more features. Regardless of what you choose to opt for, Lumosity’s selection of games is one of the finest.
You can access their website or even download their app available on your android or iOS for free.
How can we forget the most famous game of strategy? Chess is the oldest game that puts our analytical, deductive, and tactile skills to the test. Chess requires careful yet spontaneous actions. This game of pawns is sure to keep one on edge and develop their cognitive skills.
Besides giving your brain a killer workout with these amazing games, you can also do some additional activities to give it that much-needed edge. These could include working out regularly, meditating, learning some dance moves, reading, and literally anything new that would be a brand new experience for you!