Mental Exercises for Staying Sharp

Ready to do some mental gymnastics? Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. Studies show that brain exercises are the secret to maintain mental functioning, keeping your brain sharp and alert. They are also fun to do! There are many different activities to give your brain a workout and help it stay sharp. Give them each a try, and do a little each day for maximum benefits.


For games specifically designed to train your brain, head to the internet or to your phone and search for ‘free brain games’. These puzzles often are math or word games that are fun while increasing your brain power.

There are plenty of non-electronic games as well. There are a wealth of card games you can play.  To play one simple memory game, place a deck of cards face down on a table. Turn over two at a time looking for numbers that match. If they are a match, remove them from the table. If they are not, turn them face down again. You can play any card game you can think of, from poker to go fish.

Puzzles are another great option. Crosswords, sodoku, and traditional tabletop puzzles are challenging and lots of fun. Playing board games, bingo, and other group games are great ways to challenge yourself while having fun with friends. Having fun plus mental stimulation is a winning combination.


Neurobics are exercises that challenge the connections between your brain and all five senses. Try it out by doing daily tasks in an unexpected manner. Use your non-dominant hand to eat, brush your teeth, or dial the phone. Tie your shoes, button your shirt, or take a shower with your eyes closed. The idea is to break your brain out of its routine and make it think. Doing so will form new neural pathways that increase your brain power.

Learn something new

Try learning a new activity, like painting, pottery, chess, a new card game, or an instrument. Anything that is a creative outlet, hands-on, mentally challenging, or social, will be excellent for your health. Try that activity you have always wanted to do! Add extra benefits by sharing the activity with friends, or writing about it in a journal or blog.


Find a new subject that interests you and go to the library or search the Internet to learn about it, or find books, newspapers, or magazines that interest you. Challenge yourself by writing about what you have learned or telling a friend about it. Read books in your favorite genre or discover a new series. When you’ve finished a book, try imagining or writing down what you think happens to the characters after the book ends. Whether you do some research or read a book for fun, you will engage your imagination and creativity.


You imagination is a powerful tool. Create stories and write them down. Invent a new game. There is no limit to what your imagination can create. A perfect time for imagining is on your daily walk. The exercise allows your brain to drift wherever you want. You can also use your surroundings for inspiration. Imagine how you would landscape your neighbor’s yard, try to name all of the plants you see, or count how many birds fly past.

Exercise and sleep

Physical exercise has many benefits, and helping your brain is one of them. When you move your body, you increase blood flow to your brain, bringing it oxygen and nutrients that help it stay healthy and happy. Even 30 minutes of brisk walking can increase blood floor to your brain. Reducing stress is very important, and exercise as well as meditation and social interaction can help alleviate it. Make sure that your brain gets its rest and relaxation by getting plenty of sleep. REM sleep is when your brain processes everything you have learned during the day.

Break your routine

You probably do the same things every day, and you likely do those things the same way every time. It is time to change things up. The brain loves novelty of any type; it does not have to be complicated. Try doing your daily tasks in a different order, or take a walk in a different direction. Your brain loves it when you do something new.

Have fun

It is important to have fun while you are doing these exercises.  You will get more benefits and will want to keep them up. Choose what you like and continue to try new things. Your brain will feel quick and nimble, and you will help to both prevent problems down the road and keep yourself engaged in the present. Doing mental exercises now will have lasting effects later on in life. Challenge yourself, and push the edges of your comfort zone. Your brain will thank you.

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