5 ways to train your brain

We know the benefits of physical activity for a healthy body, but what about a healthy mind?

Here are 5 tips to train your brain.

1. Meditate

Meditation improves memory, increases brain size, makes both brain hemispheres work together and enhances your emotional intelligence according to the Exploration of Consciousness Research Institute. Plus, a 2012 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program had measurable effects on how the brain functions even when you are not actively meditating.

There are various meditation practices, but the Australian Teachers of Meditation Association says it’s broadly a discipline that involves turning the mind and attention inward and focusing on a single thought, image, object or feeling. A quiet space makes meditation easier and you don’t need to take up any particular posture, just be comfortable so that you don’t need to readjust part way through the practice. 

2. Play

The jury is still out on whether cerebral exercises have any long-term effect on mental performance. “The main problem is that although people can train themselves to do better on particular tasks, the performance improvement rarely generalises to other tasks and abilities,” says Professor Nick Haslam, of the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. But a 2008 study called Improving Fluid Intelligence with Training on Working Memory was the first research to show it might be possible to increase your intelligence to a significant degree through training. 

Neuroscientists have designed a series of games called Lumosity to help challenge certain parts of your brain. The online and smartphone resource lets you exercise core cognitive abilities whenever and wherever you like.

3. Rest

Nothing will drain your brain faster than sleep deprivation. “Being well rested means you will use your cognitive skills more efficiently, because tiredness, anxiety and stress interfere with mental clarity, focus and concentrated effort,” says Professor Haslam. Sleeping even seven hours a night will slowly add up to a costly sleep debt when it comes to brain function according to recent University of Pennsylvania and Walter Reed Research Institute studies. While getting six hours a night for two weeks resulted in participants having the “cognitive equivalent of being legally drunk”, best aim for eight hours or more every night!

4. Workout

Physical exercise – the type that really gets your heart pumping – has been proven two have long- and short-term benefits on your brain. New research from Boston University School of Medicine shows that physical activity is beneficial for brain health and cognition. The findings published in Behavioral Brain Reasearch suggest that certain hormones, which are increased during exercise, may help improve memory and processing speed. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity into most, if not all, days of the week. You can break it into short bouts such as three 10-minute sessions each day.

5. Mingle

Whether you have that twinkle in your eye that some say gleams from exceptionally smart folk or you prefer sticking to the conversation basics, networking is the perfect way to boost your know-how and social intelligence. A big part of success in life is the ability to build strong interpersonal relationships – be they in a netball team, a family unit or at work.

NEXT: With the new year on the horizon it's time to find your inner compass and focus on you.


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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.