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Five Great Ways to Expand Your Mind

Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2023
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson

meditationExpanding the mind is an expression that means using your brain in new ways to access more of it to make you smarter. It involves increasing awareness and knowledge, remembering more, thinking faster, and connecting to new ideas. While there are many mysteries that remain on how our brains operate, scientists believe that when we use our brains in stimulating ways, such as learning new math skills or doing a crossword puzzle, we can make our brains stronger. In one study, adults who could not juggle were taught the skill. As they improved, two parts of the brain, their visual and motor areas, grew. Per NAIS, newer research shows that the brain is more like a muscle that can change and get stronger. They liken it to lifting weights. When person lift weights, their muscles become stronger with exercise, and when the muscles are not used, they shrink. When you learn new things, you exercise the brain and make the tiny connections in the brain stronger, which ultimately makes your brain stronger. Thus, expanding the mind makes you smarter. Therefore, it’s important to regularly exercise the brain. Scientists have also discovered that exercising the body in conjunction with the mind can maximize brain power. Here are five great ways to do it.

1. Playing games & doing puzzles 

Card and board games and puzzles can stimulate the mind, enhance memory, and improve cognitive skills. And this includes video games. Per Mental Floss, video games might slow down the aging process. They indicate, “So-called ‘brain games’ involving problem-solving, memory, and puzzle components have been shown to have a positive benefit on older players. In one study, just 10 hours of play led to increased cognitive functioning in participants 50 and older – an improvement that lasted for several years.”

2. Exercise

Scientists acknowledge that there is a strong connection between body and mind. Per, “Research has time and time again shown that people who engage in healthy behaviors such as exercise and proper nutrition are less susceptible to the cognitive declines associated with the aging process.” They explain that research in mice in 2013 revealed that exercise can increase something called neurogenesis, the formation of new brain cells located in the brain’s hippocampus.

3. Meditation

Various forms of meditation can help the mind deal with stress, thus enabling people to think clearer and cope better with day-to-day stressors. It is believed that meditating or performing tai chi may increase the brain’s capacity to switch between different tasks. Per Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, “Increasing cognitive reserve may allow the brain to better deal with other neurological problems,” shares Dr. Daffner.

4. Live healthfully overall

Per Everyday Health, researchers believe that following brain-healthy lifestyles enables people to better perform regular tasks, and that targeted brain exercises can increase one’s cognitive reserve. Thus, they suggest that people, especially mature individuals, stick to healthy habits, such as eating right, not smoking, consuming alcohol in moderation, and staying physically and mentally active. A 2019 study from The Journal of the American Medical Association followed nearly 200,000 older participants (age 60 plus) for over an 8-year period and concluded that healthy lifestyles reduced dementia risks among participants.

5. Learn new skills

Learning new math, a second language, or increasing one’s vocabulary are examples of skills that can be acquired. It’s especially important that people aged 50 plus continue to learn new things. Per Everyday Health, “When the brain is passive, it has a tendency to atrophy.” They explain that sedentary and relatively passive activities, such as sitting in front of the television all day, can be detrimental to brain activity in the long-term. Not only is it important for the brain to remain active, but it is also important that it be used in new ways. Scientists say that even something as simple as brushing teeth using a non-dominant hand can engage the brain.

Scientific studies reiterate the importance of keeping both the body and mind engaged and exercised to maintain and expand one’s ability. This is particularly important for seniors who are facing the effects of aging on the body and mind – and hope to challenge their brains to stay sharp, improve memory, and promote mental health. There are so many ways to engage the mind, such as doing a crossword puzzle daily, playing Sudoku, or learning Italian, testing a new recipe, reading a challenging book, listening to stimulating music, or meditating. These enjoyable activities not only inspire the mind, but also encourage the growth of new neural cells which open pathways to improve one’s overall brain function.

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8 months ago

I took up playing the fiddle at 50. I’m now 73 and a pretty good fiddler.

2 years ago

It’s no wonder other or older or civilizations respect(ed) their elders. They spent a lifetime gathering knowledge! In this country, the masterminds behind Obamacare thought it wise to consider older people less valuable and, therefore, less insurable.

I don’t know about you, but I know I’m smarter than I was 30 years ago, and even 10 years ago. But that’s probably not enough to get me that new knee.

The author mentioned switching hands when brushing teeth. Here’s another simple switch: eat the buttered toast upside down (the toast, not you).

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