I can recite lines from almost every episode of Friends, yet I can’t remember where I left my car keys or to grab my lunch from the fridge before I leave for work. What’s crazy is that, in our quest to triumph over day-to-day information overload, we actually have the capacity to remember much more than we do. There are several brain-boosting activities and mental exercises that have been proven to sharpen our memories and keep our brain strong as we grow older. Want to find out what they are?
Those who practice mindfulness are said to have a better memory—a no-brainer, right? Actually, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, studied 48 undergraduate students who agreed to either take a mindfulness class and a nutrition class. The mindfulness one included 10 to 20 minutes of exercises, and then 10 minutes of daily meditation outside of class. That group improved on tests of working memory and focus and experienced fewer unrelated thoughts than the other group.
Getting a good night’s sleep
We know that maintaining a regular sleep schedule is much better than not maintaining one, but generally speaking, quality sleep can play a critical role in our immune function, metabolism, creativity, and learning abilities. Moreover, sleep is top priority for a well-working memory. According to several studies, a clear and rested brain allows us to focus, preserve memories, and improve our overall mental health.
Engaging in physical exercise
Just another reason why physical exercise is good for overall health. There has been a lot of research, with the first study held sometime in the 1990s, that suggests exercise can resist shrinkage in the brain, increase cognitive abilities, and boost blood flow to the area involved with memory. It’s those same studies that recommend us to learn a new sport or exercise that utilizes both the mind and body, like none other than our star at HealingRadius: yoga.
Playing mind games
Playing mentally stimulating games can help us retain information and keep our memories in tip-top shape. Mind games are also proven to generate new cells in the portion of the brain primarily associated with memory. Which ones, you ask? Chess, solitaire, scrabble, boggle, sudoku, and even a simple crossword puzzle, to name a few. It’s true that putting your brain to work definitely has its advantages. And while you’re at it, laugh, because laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.
Eating nutritious food
Diets that are high in fat and cholesterol have been said to damage our arteries, which is bad for the heart and the brain. One study featured in the Annals of Neurology journal says that the participants who ate the most saturated fats from food like red meat and butter performed worse on memory tests than those who ate the lowest amounts. That information only reminds us that the food we eat and don’t eat happens to play a crucial role in our memory. So, what should we do? We can start by consuming brain-boosting nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that include kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli.
Reading for pleasure
Just like our muscles, our brains benefit from a good workout, too. Yes, we mean reading. When you do so, your intelligence and concentration are called to action. Processing words alone can even boost the brain. And BuzzFeed says, “Every time you read, you create a new memory of what you’ve read—essentially exercising your memory muscles. With each new memory, your brain forges new synapses, strengthens existing ones, and helps to keep your memory sharp.”
Performing these regular and targeted brain exercises can increase our brain’s cognitive reserve and help us keep our memory in check. After all, we at HealingRadius are all about feeling healthy, strong, and restored. If you know of any natural ways to improve memory, please share them in the comment section below!
Allyson Miller is a bookworm, history nerd and outdoor enthusiast who loves writing creative and informational content for SBT in Rock Hill, SC. Depending on the day, you can find her with her nose in historical documents, shopping for trendy exercise outfits or trying new cooking recipes. Allyson dreams that one day, engineers will figure out a way to build roller coasters sans the incline, ridding her of coasterphobia.