Memories are made up of what you sense throughout your day. Typically, when your memory fails, it’s not because you forgot how to remember—it’s because your brain isn’t processing information very clearly. Exercises for memory can sharpen the brain’s ability to record information so that you can create a clearer memory that’s easier to recall.
We don’t just lose muscle mass over time — our brains can atrophy, too. More specifically, your brain's cognitive retention — its ability to withstand neurological damage due to aging and other factors without showing visible signs of slowing or memory loss — diminishes through the years, making it more difficult to perform mental tasks. Just as weight workouts add lean muscle to your body and help you retain more muscle in your later years, researchers now believe that following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing regular, targeted brain exercises can also increase your brain's cognitive reserve.
A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you're a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your gray matter as you age, there are lots of things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance. Keeping your brain as healthy and fit as your body can be easy with these simple tips.
By the time you’ve reached adulthood, your brain has developed millions of neural pathways that help you process and recall information, solve familiar problems, and execute familiar tasks with a minimum of mental effort. Sticking to well-worn memory paths won’t give your brain the stimulation it needs to keep growing and developing. You have to shake things up from time to time. Memory, like muscular strength, requires you to “use it or lose it.” The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and remember information. Not all activities are equal; the best brain exercises break your routine and challenge you to use and develop new brain pathways. Finding challenging new skills and problems to solve teaches you new things outside of your comfort zones, pushing you to new levels of performance.
While mental exercise is important for brain health, that doesn’t mean you never need to break a sweat, physical exercise helps your brain stay sharp. It increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. Perhaps most importantly, exercise plays an important role in neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new neuronal connections. Does it take you a long time to clear out the sleep fog when you wake up? If so, you may find that exercising in the morning before you start your day makes a big difference. In addition to clearing out the cobwebs, it also primes you for learning throughout the day.