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5 Sports Activities To Stimulate Your Brain Activity

Sport’s participation is one of the best ways to improve your physical health. It makes your heart stronger, boosts your metabolism, and gets you shedding some weight. But did you know that sports activities have a beneficial effect on your brain too?

1.     Brain Exercises

Just like the rest of our body, your brain needs exercising. Keeping yourself busy with “mental gymnastics” like word puzzles, math problems, chess, cards, or video games helps in stimulating new connections between the nerve cells. It also triggers the development of new cells and even prevents brain degeneration.

How sports improve brain activity is that they force the brain to work harder than usual, which stretches its capabilities and enables it to be as productive next time it is presented with a similar challenge, but without working as hard.  Therefore, to benefit from a brain-boosting activity, the activity itself has to be challenging – something that demands mental effort and your full attention.

Take chess for instance; there are thousands of possible moves in a game. To become an expert player, you will need to memorize a few moves, and this will be no doddle. The fact that it is actually that hard to perfect the moves is what boosts your brainpower.

Thus, playing chess regularly will stimulate your brain activity, develop your intellectual capabilities and get you thinking smarter, faster. And guess what? You can play it anywhere – you can set it up in your backyard, in the study, or even bring it on a picnic if your picnic basket has got some room for the board.

2.     Hiking/Camping

While hiking may be underrated, it is one of the most important sports for brain activity. Just getting out of your house and taking a walk in the woods as you enjoy the stimulating fresh breeze can do unimaginable wonders to your brain.

For starters, it declutters your mind, enabling you to think better. Whether you will be doing a trail run, playing scavenger hunt, or just taking a brisk walk, any physical activity will clear your brain and trigger it to release “feel good” hormones that will leave you feeling happy and relaxed.

There is more; it boosts your memory too. Trail running (the kind that gets you completely sweaty and your heart racing), for instance, triggers the expansion of hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in learning and verbal memory.

Some activities like bird watching will have tremendous benefits on your brain too, especially when observing birds that are a bit further away from the watching point. As you zoom in your binoculars or strain your eyes to identify the bird, the part of the brain that controls memory and thinking is automatically triggered to figure out the type and name of your feathered friend.

This forces it to work harder than usual, which ultimately improves your mental ability. A study conducted by the University of Michigan on the effect of watching distant objects to the brain found a 20% boost to memory on people who tried to identify far objects, and a 4% boost on people who watched nearer objects.

Important Tip: When hiking in the backcountry, always make sure to dress for the weather. A raincoat or soft shell jacket, for instance, will come in handy if you are walking in the rain or cold weather. A sunhat will shield you from harmful UV radiation. Consider packing a warm sleeping bag too if you will be spending the night. You may want to add a camping sleeping pad to the set up for extra warmth if you are not sure about the atmospheric conditions of the area in which you will be camping.  You want to return home happy, not sick.

3.     Meditation

If you are looking to revamp your brainpower in the shortest time, try meditation. This simple activity soothes your mind and gives it an incredible workout. Since you will be creating a completely different mental state, your brain will be engaged in new, interesting ways, which will lower your stress levels and increase your brain health.

Stress is your brain’s worst enemy. Constantly putting yourself under strenuous conditions could have detrimental effects on your brain. Over time, stress kills brain cells and the part of the brain that stores new memories and retrieves old ones. Chronic stress has also been linked with memory loss.

Meditating twenty to thirty minutes a day can help improve your concentration, memory, creativity, as well as reasoning and learning skills. Meditation also increases connections between brain cells, which enhance memory ability and mental sharpness.

4.     Hanging Out With Friends

When you think about activities that can boost your brain, does a simple pastime like enjoying a movie with your friends come to mind? Well, if you are like most people, making time for friends may not be on your brain activity stimulants’ list but tell you what, healthy relationships are one heck of a brain booster.

Interacting with others stimulate our brains. Meaningful friendships provide a strong support system, which is vital for both brain and emotional health. Studies show that people with an active social life have a slower rate of memory decline than those who spend most of their lives locking themselves in a room.

5.     Learning A New Language

Studying a new language is probably one of the toughest tasks you can perform. It is challenging and that’s why it is perfect for your brain.

To increase your linguistic prowess, you will need to memorize new phrases and analyze various language structures. This will work your brain harder, which will enhance its health and performance. It will also improve your comprehension, imagination, and focus.

Putting something new in your brain constantly creates new neural connections, which are important for information retention and maximizing brain functionality. Learning should become a part of your life if you wish to enhance your memory and promote the overall wellness of your brain. 

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