It’s time for a brain workout! Here’s how to think sharper, courtesy of Prevention magazine.
- Challenge your balance. Research shows a link between toning your muscles and toning your brain. In a Canadian study, people who lifted weights WHILE doing balance exercises – like simultaneously raising their right arm and left leg – improved their decision-making abilities by 13%. Dr. John Martin, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, says that balance movements engage multiple parts of the brain, forcing your mind to work harder.
- Toss a ball while walking. German researchers found that kids who bounced a ball while walking, or simply tossed it between their hands - for just 10 minutes a day - increased their attention and concentration on tests. The researchers say you don’t have to be a kid to benefit. Tossing a ball primes anyone’s brain to focus better.
- Take a nature walk. Experts at the University of Michigan found that memory and attention improved by 20% when people walked in a park, rather than in an urban environment. Why? According to study co-author Marc Berman, natural settings have a restful effect, allowing the brain to better process information. However, busy surroundings — noisy traffic, colorful billboards, and loud groups of people — fight for your attention, and distract you. The idea is to be in a quiet area so you can focus, making you better able to tackle that to-do list.
- Work in a little speed. A recent study found that people who did three-minute sprints memorized new words 20% faster afterward than those who skipped the run. Why? Cardio increases blood flow, which triggers growth in the area of the hippocampus responsible for memory and verbal learning. Also, a study from the University of Pittsburgh found that the most aerobically fit people had a 7% larger hippocampus than their sofa-sitting peers. Experts believe that a small hippocampus may be to blame for forgetting appointments or names.