We hear a lot about taking care of our hearts, bones, and the other parts of our bodies, but how often do you think about the fitness of your brain? Turns out that just like any other organ, our brains can be kept healthier—and there are easy things you can do every single day to help protect your memory in the long-haul.
There’s a new book out all about this, written by memory expert and clinical psychologist Cynthia Green, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. It’s called 30 Days to Total Brain Health.
It’s got a month’s worth of tips and tricks that take ten minutes or less, and can help you boost your brain brawn now—and later. I flipped through an advance copy a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I’d much prefer some of these challenges over push ups and wind sprints. Three easy ones from the book you can try today, tomorrow, and beyond:
1. Recite a poem. (Day 12) Committing a poem to memory is not just for school children. According to Dr. Green, “reading poetry gets our mind out of its “box” and is a wonderful source of intellectual challenge and pleasure. Memorizing a poem offers a different kind of brain workout, honing our rote memorization skills, which we used quite a bit in school but may not exercise frequently in ‘real life.’”
2. Doodle. (Day 17) Turns out, mindlessly scribbling can keep you sharp. Dr. Green cites recent research that suggests doodling may help us attend, maintain focus, and remember more effectively. A study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology found that subjects assigned a doodling task not only did better when quizzed on what they were monitoring in a phone call, but also did 29% better than their non-doodling counterparts on a surprise memory test.
3. Take two, or three. (Day 19) And by two or three I mean: JUGGLE a couple of items! Dr. Green reports that complex motor integration activities such as juggling have been shown to increase brain volume and improve everyday memory performance. In fact, researchers in Germany found that juggling increased volume in their subjects’ brain white matter.