I have come to the realization that I’m not getting any younger. After having children, I have had my share of “mommy brain” moments where I misplace my keys or my driver’s license. Yet, although I read and write everyday, I’m not hitting the books quite as hard as I did when I was in college. In addition, when I was teaching I often spoke in Spanish and was constantly checking math problems in my head. Although I am young, I believe mental fitness is important. Thus, I have set out to challenge my mind. Here are a few ways I keep my brain in shape.
A game of tennis helps exercise my body. However, there are plenty of mind games that help exercise my brain. Like my body, there are different areas of my mind that need to be exercised. Sites like playwithyourmind.com have games that work on attention and focus, hand-eye coordination, memory, problem solving and processing numbers. For instance, one memory game asks players “to click on targets after they disappear.” I try to play one or two games a day to keep my mind sharp. Mental fitness applications are great for mind-training on the go. My husband introduced me to Lumosity. One of the math games I played gave me two equations and I had to compute each one in my head and then decide which one was the biggest. I noticed that math and language games were easier for me. However, the attention and focus games were a little bit harder. Of course, to keep my brain in shape, I also enjoy a good old paper crossword puzzle.
Since I am in my 30s, I decided that I need to move beyond checkers. I didn’t have the slightest clue on how to play chess. Thus, first I looked up the rules and learned about how all of the pieces moved. Then, I found an app that allowed me to play games against the computer. I’m not quite ready to play a game against a real person yet (because I would probably be beaten in about five minutes).
In college, I took a lot of courses in Spanish (enough so that I was only one or two courses shy of a minor). For the next six years after that, I taught in a school that had a high spanish speaking population. However, for the last few years, I haven’t been speaking in Spanish as much. Thus, I have decided to start brushing up on my Spanish. I can’t afford to take classes or purchase expensive language learning software. Thus, right now I’m using Duolingo. I took a placement test that allowed me to bypass some of the beginning skills. It was interesting to see what conjugations and vocabulary I remembered. Learning a language helps your brain stay in shape. In fact, according to brainfacts.org, bilingual adults are able to concentrate better. In addition, they have a “denser gray matter.” Children who learn a second language before five show even more cognitive advantages.
Playing mental fitness games is fun. However, it is also beneficial to your health. According to Dr. Oz,”studies have shown that keeping your brain challenged and engaged can actually help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.” For this reason, I’m going to keep working my brain out so I stay sharp for years to come.
More from Melissa:
Apps that Help Children Learn to Read
Advice from a Graduate: Three Things I Wish I Knew Before College
Keep Your Kids in “School Shape” Over Winter Break