Remember how much you loved to play ball as a kid? Well, you might want to take it up again. Throwing a ball up in the air and catching it, or better yet, trying your hand at juggling, can improve your hand-eye coordination and carries widespread brain health benefits.
Exercise Your Peripheral Vision
Yes, eyes can learn. Scientists have found that acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the peripheral nervous system, is crucial to focus and memory. By practicing peripheral vision exercises, you can reinvigorate the release of acetylcholine in your brain and improve your memory function.
To practice, try this exercise the next time you’re sitting some place outside of your house, such as a restaurant, a bench at the mall, or the local park. With a pen and paper handy, stare straight ahead for several seconds and don’t move your eyes. Mentally note everything you can see without moving your eyes. When you believe you’ve taken note of everything, take out your pen and paper and write down everything you saw. Then, try the exercise again and see if you can add to your list.
Do a Jigsaw Puzzle
While they may seem mundane, jigsaw puzzles are actually great for your brain. Choose one that is on the difficult side – at least 500 pieces. Then, on a rainy afternoon or whenever the mood strikes, set out to conquer your puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles require fine visual judgments about where pieces belong and entail mentally “rotating” the pieces, manipulating them in your hands, and shifting your attention from the small piece to the “big picture.” Besides, it’s rewarding to see your puzzle become a whole work of art. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!
Use Your Other Hand
Whether you’re right-handed or left-handed, you probably find yourself doing day to day activities such as eating and combing your hair with your dominant hand. But try mixing it up a bit. Brushing your teeth is a good place to start. Try brushing your teeth with your subordinate hand (so your left if you’re right-handed) and keep practicing until you master it. While you may find it difficult at first, practicing an activity such as this can drive your brain to make positive changes. Think of millions of neurons learning new tricks as you finally establish better control of that other hand!
Memorize a Song
Think of a song you like but one that you don’t know the words to. Make it a point to buy the CD/MP3/etc if you don’t already have it and listen to it as many times as it takes to write down all the lyrics. Then sing along – (if you’ve got stage fright, feel free to do this part when no one’s around). Once you’re able to sing the song word for word without the recording playing in the background, move on to the next song!
Hopefully you find this brain exercise fun, but there is also some science behind it. By carefully listening to the song, your brain releases acetylcholine, a chemical that aids in understanding, thinking, and memory function. So whether it’s in the shower or at karaoke night, go ahead and sing your heart out. Your brain will thank you.