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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

You use different parts of your brain for normal tasks and for new, interesting tasks. Even after a few minutes of performing certain tasks, your brain becomes accustomed to it. For example, close your eyes and touch your arm. You will certainly feel that, but keep your finger there for a few moments. Eventually your sense of touch becomes accustomed to the feeling of your arm and no longer reports it to your brain; you will no longer feel anything. The same thing happens for all your senses (which is why you can't tell when your own breath smells bad!)

The brain thirsts for novel experiences. Unique experiences activate different parts of the brain, strengthen your synapses and pump up the production of neurotrophins. So, break up your routines and try something new.

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Previously we talked about how new experiences can create new connections in your mind, which helps retain memories. Active experiences, where you are actually doing the activity, are the stimulus to create these new connections. Watching someone perform an activity is not the same thing as doing it yourself.

In particular, television is usually not a mind-enriching experience. When you watch someone doing something interesting, only your senses of sight and hearing are involved. When you are actually doing the activity, all of your senses are involved. Additionally, each additional hour of TV watched per day has been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. So, don't sit on the sidelines, get out there and experience!

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The next time you are going to perform a task such as walking the dog, doing the laundry, or cleaning the dishes, put some earplugs in and do the activity without your sense of hearing. This will force you to use your other senses to complete the task, which will cause new associations to be formed. In addition, this will give your senses of smell and touch a chance to help out. Pay attention to how much information you usually get from hearing and what parts of the task are difficult without sound.

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Most of us go through our daily lives with fairly fixed routines. We get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and drive to work the same way every day. This isn't necessarily bad because it allows our brains to slowly speed up to meet the day, but it also doesn't give our brains any exercise. Since these routine tasks are carried out almost subconsciously, the brain uses almost no energy and makes no new associations or neural connections.

Even activities like doing the laundry or walking the dog can be so routine that you hardly even think about doing them. Each activity is a chance to give your brain some exercise and get it actually thinking. Try to add some surprise or novelty into daily activities. For example, drive to work using a different route. This will prevent you from going on auto-pilot and getting to work without thinking about how you got there. The new path will provide new and interesting things to see which will stimulate your mind and make new associations.

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Try doing something that you don't normally do with your nondominant hand. Try brushing your teeth, eating lunch, dialing the telephone, or flipping a coin. By doing this exercise, you are giving the opposite side of your brain a chance to perform this activity. A right-handed person will always be using the left side of their brain and the other side will never get a chance to learn how to do certain activities. Allowing the nondominate side of the brain to do activities it doesn't normally do will quickly create all sorts of new associations in that part of the mind. This is an easy exercise and it has excellent results.

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