Summertime Brain Fitness

Nelson Dellis

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Published on

22 August 2016

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With a plethora of fitness regimes and diets to tone and sculpt your body for the summer months, we often forget about our brain health. The brain needs a summer workout too. As a 4x USA Memory Champion and memory expert, I’m here to help. The first and most important thing to realize about your brain is that it is something you can exercise and improve no matter your age or the season. With a little bit of practice, learning a few mental tricks here and there, and the right diet and physical exercise, you’ll be able to keep your mind sharp all summer long. Here are five tips to help exercise your memory muscle:

Tip No. 1: Feed Your Brain

We are what we eat. One of the most important things I include in my diet to keep my brain healthy is DHA omega-3. The most common source of DHA is through fish, but it’s difficult to eat fish on a daily basis. If you find that you’re not eating fish on a regular basis during the week, you can incorporate an algal (vegetarian) supplement. In addition, you can find plenty of DHA-fortified drinks, foods and supplements at your local grocery store, so there are plenty of options.

Tip No. 2: Imagine Pictures

Our brains are better at remembering pictures. Often times the things we have to memorize are difficult and essentially abstract things to our brains. If you take a moment to visualize them as pictures in your mind, relating them to things you already know (create meaningful associations), then you instantly make them more memorable! Here’s a great example: remembering your grocery list. By picturing your list as a series of meaningful pictures, you’ll never forget it. Say you had to buy: spinach, eggplant, milk and bananas. Rather than memorizing eachword, memorize each word as apicture in a little bizarre story that connects them all (the stranger it is the more memorable it will be). So imagine this: Popeye the sailorman is planting an egginto the ground and watering it with milk instead of water, and guess what sprouts out? Bananas! Bizarre but memorable.

Tip No. 3: Use a Memory Palace

In addition to imagining pictures, if you store those pictures mentally around your house (or some place you know very well), you can retrieve them when you try to recall them. So, when you have a list of items to remember, picture them as images. Then place each one, one-by-one, along a path through your home! It’s unforgettable! This technique is great for children too. In fact, I recently published the book “I Forgot Something (But I Can’t Remember What It Was)” to show families how easy (and fun) it is to exercise the brain.

Tip No. 4: Keep Physically Active

The brain requires blood flow to work smoothly. Staying active will keep your circulation healthy and keep you sharp. One simple thing I include in my daily workout routine is the air squat. This is a motion you do on a daily basis: sitting down and standing back up. Best thing about them? You can do them anywhere. They’re easy on your joints too, since it’s only your body weight, and they can give you a great workout as well. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend your knees and drop down, keeping your chest up, until your thighs are parallel to the ground (like you’re sitting in a chair), then stand right back up again. Repeat.

Tip No. 5: Ditch The Phone

One of the common reasons we feel like we have weak memories is because we don’t pay attention. Next time someone shares his or her phone number, name, or you need to remember your to-do list, put your phone down and try to memorize it without that crutch. It may be a bit more time-consuming and tedious, but it does wonders for the brain!

There you go! Practice these five tips as often as you can, preferably on a daily basis, and you’ll be on top of your mental game in no time!

 

Read more about our expert Nelson Dellis, 4x USA Memory Champion and author

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