Brain Health Mental Exercises 10 Ways to Improve Your Brain Fitness By Mark Stibich, PhD Mark Stibich, PhD Mark Stibich, PhD, FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements. Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 02, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Shaheen Lakhan, MD, PhD, FAAN Medically reviewed by Shaheen Lakhan, MD, PhD, FAAN Shaheen Lakhan, MD, PhD, is an award-winning physician-scientist and clinical development specialist. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Brain fitness has basic principles: variety and curiosity. When anything you do becomes second nature, you need to make a change. If you can do the crossword puzzle in your sleep, it's time for you to move on to a new challenge in order to get the best workout for your brain. Curiosity about the world around you, how it works and how you can understand it will keep your brain working fast and efficiently. Use the ideas below to help attain your quest for mental fitness. 1 Play Games Digital Vision / Photodisc / Getty Images Brain fitness programs and games are a wonderful way to tease and challenge your brain. Suduko, crosswords and electronic games can all improve your brain's speed and memory. These games rely on logic, word skills, math and more. These games are also fun. You'll get benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day. Spend 15 minutes or so, not hours. 2 Meditation Daily meditation is perhaps the single greatest thing you can do for your mind/body health. Meditation not only relaxes you, it gives your brain a workout. By creating a different mental state, you engage your brain in new and interesting ways while increasing your brain fitness. How to Meditate for Brain Health 3 Eat for Your Brain Your brain needs you to eat healthy fats. Focus on fish oils from wild salmon, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as flax seed and olive oil. Eat more of these foods and less saturated fats. Eliminate transfats completely from your diet. 4 Tell Good Stories Stories are a way that we solidify memories, interpret events and share moments. Practice telling your stories, both new and old, so that they are interesting, compelling and fun. Some basic storytelling techniques will go a long way in keeping people's interest both in you and in what you have to say. Anti-Aging Effects of Storytelling 5 Turn Off Your Television The average person watches more than four hours of television every day. Television can stand in the way of relationships, life and more. Turn off your TV and spend more time living and exercising your mind and body. Top Reasons to Turn Off Your TV 6 Exercise Your Body to Exercise Your Brain Physical exercise is great brain exercise too. By moving your body, your brain has to learn new muscle skills, estimate distance and practice balance. Choose a variety of exercises to challenge your brain. 7 Read Something Different Books are portable, free from libraries and filled with infinite interesting characters, information, and facts. Branch out from familiar reading topics. If you usually read history books, try a contemporary novel. Read foreign authors, the classics, and random books. Not only will your brain get a workout by imagining different time periods, cultures and peoples, you will also have interesting stories to tell about your reading, what it makes you think of and the connections you draw between modern life and the words. Use These Reading Material Ideas for Brain Health and Fitness 8 Learn a New Skill Learning a new skill works multiple areas of the brain. Your memory comes into play, you learn new movements and you associate things differently. Reading Shakespeare, learning to cook and building an airplane out of toothpicks all will challenge your brain and give you something to think about. 9 Make Simple Changes We love our routines. We have hobbies and pastimes that we could do for hours on end. But the more something is 'second nature,' the less our brains have to work to do it. To really help your brain stay young, challenge it. Change routes to the grocery store, use your opposite hand to open doors and eat dessert first. All this will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again. Do Brain Training Games Really Work? 10 Train Your Brain Brain training is becoming a trend. There are formal courses, websites, and books with programs on how to train your brain to work better and faster. There is some research behind these programs, but the basic principles are memory, visualization, and reasoning. Work on these three concepts every day and your brain will be ready for anything. Using Brain Training Websites and Games 10 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Nouchi R, Taki Y, Takeuchi H, et al. Brain training game boosts executive functions, working memory and processing speed in the young adults: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(2):e55518. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055518 Hölzel BK, Carmody J, Vangel M, et al. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. 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Engage your brain: Discover a new talent. Khalsa DS, Perry G. The Four Pillars of Alzheimer's Prevention. Cerebrum. 2017. Rebok GW, Ball K, Guey LT, et al. Ten-year effects of the advanced cognitive training for independent and vital elderly cognitive training trial on cognition and everyday functioning in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014;62(1):16-24. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12607 See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.