The HeadScratcher Post Archive
January 2009
Exercising your Brain
        January 2009  The Headscratcher Post © Headscratchers LLC   Edition 45
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Are you exercising your Brain?

It’s 2009 (Happy New Year), and half the TV commercials have something about your Health and Body … Stop Smoking, Stop Drinking, Eat right, Take Vitamins, Get Plastic Surgery, and of course Exercise … Join a Gym, Buy the “do everything” at home exercise equipment, etc.

Irrespective of new year resolutions, many of the readers of this post do exercise on a regular basis.  It helps keep your body fit.  Exercising, just for a short time, adds strength to your heart, lungs, circulatory system, muscles, etc.

But what about your Brain?   Isn’t it logical that this organ can use some exercise too?  Unlike physical exercise that helps your heart, the brain needs another type of exercise. Research has shown that people who “use” their brains will tend to retain more cognitive function, i.e. they will continue to think better throughout their lives.

But you think all day long, so isn’t that enough?   Your heart beats all day long too, but you still exercise it, to push it, build endurance, and build strength.  So maybe you should consider doing this for your brain.

Here’s how:
Option 1:  Over the course of a month, make a 2-4 hour effort to learn something new.  Not just read about it, but dig deeper into it, do a little research, and really learn more about the subject.  Pick up Popular Science, or Newsweek or Home and Garden, and first read an article about something you don’t know.  Then, get on the Internet, and search for more about that subject.  Search for supporting material or contrarian opinions.  Then after spending about 90 minutes “researching", sit down and form Conclusions.  What have you learned? What else could your learn? Where could you find more and different information? What can you do with the information? What are facts and what are opinions? What will the future look like regarding the subject matter? Is there something you can do to apply your new learning?

Option 2: Learn a new skill.  Pick up “Plumbing for Dummies” or get on the internet and join “My Space” or “YouTube”, or get a book on “Advanced Powerpoint”.  Learn how do accomplish something you haven’t done before.  Build a website, make an animation, start a blog, edit your photos with a photo editor, fix a leaky faucet, learn to play chess.

Option 3: Work on a hard problem.  Get a lesson from your kids on their math and solve some problems; work on sudoku or crossword puzzles; look up “brain teasers” and solve some of them; List 40 things you can do with a brick.  These types of problems force you to think a little differently.

The Takeaway:  Exercising your body is known to be a good thing, so why not extend that to your brain.   Go beyond your daily “thinking as usual”.  Do this for just a few hours per month … Hey, skip a few TV programs.  Your brain will appreciate it, especially when you get older.  And if anyone ever says “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, you’ll be able to reply “Not this old dog”!
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