Lots of people do brain exercises, often in the form of brain games. You’ve probably even tried a few, right?
That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s a catch:
Playing brain exercise games on your “smart phone” is not necessarily brain exercise. Not by a long shot.
Brain Exercises Or Brain Thinners?
In fact, some of those brain games don’t exercise your brain at all.
You don’t have to take my word for it either. Just check out all the people on this live call who totally agreed:
Instead of helping you, those apps train your brain to get good at completing tasks within the world of those apps. The mental fitness doesn’t apply to other parts of your life.
And as we discussed in the video above, your memory and brain fitness exercises need to be both the dojo and the exercise.
And you need to be doing practice that either improves your ability to associate or to focus so that you can associate.
Use Concrete Brain Exercises And Avoid Abstract Ones
If you’re exercising your brain on an abstract level but not directing the fitness at specific life improvement goals, you’re missing out. Your brain fitness must be targeted at specific goals so you get tangible results.
And if you’d like brain exercises that do improve your mind and give you a great mental workout that matters, give the following easy exercises a try. I promise they’ll be fun and give you a memory improvement boost in a short period of time.
By the way, if you also want a detailed list of methods that will improve your memory and help you remember everything better, please check out:
And in case you weren’t aware that you can listen to me narrating this post, scroll up and click play above. I’ll happily narrate these powerful brain exercises for you on demand.
Or, keep reading and discover:
1. The 4-Details Observation Exercise
Gary Small talks about memorizing four details of people you encounter out in public.
For example, let’s say someone is wearing a gray sweater, black hat, red belt and green shoes. The goal is to observe the details first and then recall them later.
Some scientists call brain exercises like these “passive memory training.” They’re passive because you’re not using any special memory techniques. You’re just asking your mind to do what it was designed to do: remember.
Why does this matter?
For that reason, we fail to observe. We also fail to observe things that we aren’t seeing, such as by making visual images of movements we hear in other rooms. I teach about how to complete this simple visualization and memory exercise in this video.
If you’d like to be a better observer of the world around you, this exercise will help.
It’s also scalable. You can start with observing just one person per day. Once you’ve gotten good at recalling four details of just one person, you can add more information or more people (or both).
You can scale this exercise even further by memorizing the details using a Memory Palace.
But focusing on real people is the more potent exercise. Being observant of others around you is a great social skill.
2. Number Brain Exercises
That Skyrocket Your Concentration
I can’t emphasize this enough:
Numeracy is a powerful skill. It’s something I work on myself as often as possible, both with and without memory techniques in play.
“Add 3 Minus 7” is a fun brain exercise you can try today. To get started, all you do is pick any 3-digit number. Then, add 3 to that digit 3 times. Then minus 7 from the new number 7 times.
Repeat the process at least 5 times and pick a new 3-digit number the next time. You can also start with a 4-digit number and use other numbers to play with. For example, you could start with 1278 and add 12, 12 times and minus 11, 11 times.
It’s up to you and the amount of numbers dictate the level of challenge. This brain exercise also strengthens your working memory because of the amount of detail you need to hold in mind to complete it.
3. Repeat & Recall What People Say In Your Mind
We all know in our hearts that no one is really listening when we speak. And that’s sad.
But here’s the good news:
You don’t have to be another person who is just nodding your head like a puppet while actually thinking about something else.
You can train yourself to focus on what people are telling you and remember everything they say.
It all begins by creating presence in the moment in an easy way: Follow the words being spoken to you by repeating them in your mind.
For example, imagine that someone is saying the following to you:
“Tomorrow I want to go to a movie called Memory Maverick. It’s about a guy who cannot forget. He’s hired by a group known only as ‘The Agency’ to infiltrate a competitor. But once the hero learns the secrets, he doesn’t want to hand them over. But since he can’t forget, The Agency starts making his life miserable.”
All you would need to do to complete this brain exercise is repeat everything in your mind. You’ll automatically remember more by doing this.
It works because simply asking your memory to recall information exercises it. The more challenging the information, the more exercise your brain will get.
4. Visualization Exercise Secrets Of A Memory Maverick
To remember even more, you can practice creating pictures in your head.
For example, you might see an image of Mel Gibson as he looked in the movie Maverick trying to remember something.
Or you might get a picture in your mind of an agency building and scenes of evil men in suits torturing the hero. Any images you create will help you become a living, breathing mnemonics dictionary.
It can be a bit awkward to repeat back information like this to people to practice your concentration and memory powers, but you can write an email later from memory:
“Hey, did you manage to see Memory Maverick? That whole thing with infiltrating ‘The Agency’ for those secrets and not wanting to hand them over sure sounded cool. What did they wind up doing to make the hero’s life more miserable?”
For more brain exercises on remembering what people are saying with visualization practice, check out this interview with Jim Samuels on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast. He has some great ideas and the benefits include:
- Being more present.
- Remembering more of what was said.
- Showing people that you’re interested in them and their lives.
- Easing conflicts when they arise because you remember the issues in greater detail.
As people speak, “translate” what they say into pictures, feelings, related concepts and even tastes and smells.
Take this training seriously:
You’ll feel better about your connection to people because you’re really with them.
5. The Metronome-Clapping Exercise
Back in grad school, I had a great professor named Matthew Clark. For some reason, he told our class in Classical Literature about a great concentration exercise that I’ve practiced ever since.
It’s simple: You put on a metronome at a slow speed and then practice “covering the click.”
If you’d like a practical example of the metronome exercise on video, please check this out:
To be clear:
I don’t think this brain exercise helps memory in any direct way.
But it is excellent for improving concentration and presence.
Here’s why these mental states matter:
The better you get at this exercise, the longer the amount of time between clicks you should place. To accurately cover the metronome with a minute between clicks would be impressive!
6. Create A Memory Palace
The ultimate brain exercise on the planet is also the easiest. It involves nothing more than a simple drawing that follows some simple principles.
Why is creating a Memory Palace such a powerful exercise?
Take my free memory improvement course and find out for yourself:
First, creating a Memory Palace draws upon your spatial memory.
It’s also a great recovered memory and autobiographical memory exercise .
As far as brain exercises go, the Memory Palace training exercise works kind of in reverse.
Because you’re accessing cues that are usually blueprinted on your mind outside of your awareness.
Think about it:
You’ve rarely gone into a new home or store with the conscious intent of memorizing its features.
Yet, if you think back to the last home of a friend you visited, here’s a fact:
Most people can recall an insane amount of detail. Creating a Memory Palace lets you exercise that inborn ability.
You can even use it for memory and learning stunts like memorizing all the Prime Ministers of Canada.
Second, creating a Memory Palace is creating a tool that you can use for life. Once you have one and you’ve mastered using it, you can create dozens more.
And if you can do that, you can do great things with your memory, like how Matteo Ricci learned Chinese in record time. You can also remember names at events with ease and accomplish any goal in which memory plays a role.
And what goal doesn’t involve memory?
If you’d like to learn how to create a Memory Palace following the good rules of the Magnetic Memory Method, my FREE Memory Improvement Kit will take you through the entire process. It includes videos, worksheets and more to get you up to speed on this important talent.
7. Learn a Foreign Language
You’re probably heard that bilingualism is good for the brain, right? It is, and one of the reasons why is that you are continually asking your brain to recall information.
But language learning is also great brain exercise because it keeps you talking with people.
Regular conversation stimulates the production of healthy chemicals.
And for a double-whammy, singing has been shown to increase cortisol and other chemicals involved in healing.
For this reason, singing in a foreign language you’re learning increases the impact and effectiveness of this brain exercise.
8. Mind Mapping For Maximum Brain Health
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tony Buzan’s approach to mind mapping.
I used to mind map in ways that weren’t effective at all.
But after training with Tony and world mind mapping champion Phil Chambers, I’m way better at the practice and regularly get brain exercise by mind mapping in real time on my YouTube live streams:
Why does mind mapping create great brain exercise?
One reason is that you’re effectively reproducing the role of a brain cell on the paper.
Just as a brain cell has a central nucleus with synapses that flow outward like a river, the mind map has a central idea that feeds several streams with mental power.
Give mind mapping a try whenever you want a creative brain exercise.
9. The Brain Exercise Of Sports And Fitness
I love going to the gym.
But not just to workout my body.
The gym is a great place for a mental workout.
For example, you can memorize the number of sets and reps you complete using the Major System.
You can also rehearse the content in your Memory Palaces while on the treadmill.
You can complete the number juggling exercises above and do the 4-details exercise as you observe the other people at the gym.
It really is a win-win, and of course, since your mind is produced by your physical brain, combining physical and mental exercise is sure to maximize the boost you experience.
Take all of these exercises to the gym. You can even mind map your to-do list in a Memory Journal between sets!
What Is The Best Brain Exercise?
At the end of the day, brain exercises are best when they help you solve real world problems.
For example, Forgetting important details, harms us day in and day out. You now have a brain exercise that will assist you with that.
Not being able to focus on numbers leads us into making all kinds of mistakes that prevent us from memorizing information quickly. The simple game you’ve just learned is just one step towards improved numeracy skills and a better memory.
You’ve also learned to listen better, be more present and develop concentration for extended periods of time.
In many ways, repeating the words of others in your mind or “covering the click” are forms of meditation, a skill known to improve memory.
But what matters above all is that the best memory exercises are the ones that you actually use. You cannot get the benefits from them without consistent application.
You Really Can Make Your Brain Smarter & Faster!
Finally, you have the opportunity to create a Memory Palace. This simple, ancient invention will also improve your concentration while letting you remember anything.
I’m not sure I believe in left brain exercises versus right brain exercises, but I’m confident that if such things exist, the Memory Palace covers them both.
Combined, all of these mind fitness activities will improve your life. They all serve as great brain exercises for kids too, so please pass them on to the young people in your life.
On that note, they’re also great brain exercises for seniors, so don’t ignore that branch of your family and social circles either. People of all ages want to keep mentally fit!
Turn Your Dream Of Operating
A Fully Fit Mind Into Reality
When you regularly complete brain exercises, you’ll feel filled with pride. Few people have the gumption to take consistent action, after all.
Your commitment to what memory expert Tony Buzan calls “mental literacy” means you should celebrate. Consistently completing brain exercises should be rewarded, so be sure to factor that in.
You don’t have to think hard about giving yourself the perfect gift, though. The brain fitness that comes from regularly completing brain exercises is its own reward.
It’s not just about “brain” activities either. Asking questions about ambidextrousness and memory can help too. For example, I’ve practice juggling, writing with both hands and writing backwards to involve both my brain and body.
I also make sure that I don’t fall into the traps of smartphone addiction. Sure, you can get some great brain fitness reading from the Kindle app. But if you’re constantly interrupted by notifications, you’re probably damaging your focus and concentration more that helping improve it.
Oh, and here are a few more brain exercises for when you’re feeling depressed:
You might also want to consider learning more about vitamins for memory improvement because the ones you’re taking now might be causing more damage than good.
Summary Of The Most Potent Brain Exercises
- The 4-details exercise is excellent for “passive memory training.” You can perform this several times a day.
- Number exercises help create focus, increased attention span and greater numeracy skills.
- Repeat and Recall exercises also increase your concentration and ability to pay attention to others for longer periods of time. You’ll also remember more.
- Create images, associations and other related sensations as you listen to people speak. This will create intense brain fitness that leads to great retention.
- The Metronome exercise. This simple device can be found at any music store or downloaded as an app. “Covering the click” has many benefits and provides a fun challenge as a solo effort or group activity.
- Create and use Memory Palaces. Both of these activities create a lot of mental exercise.
- Learn a language consistently over time. It might not feel like brain exercise, but it is and the benefits of being bilingual provide ongoing brain benefits.
- Mind Map. There are many interesting rules you can follow to maximize the process. Following them is part of what creates the exercise benefits of this creative brain game.
- Use memory techniques while getting physical fitness. Using your body and mind at the same time maximizes your time and is a win-win for total psychological and physical optimization.
What are your thoughts about the brain exercise principles discussed in this post?
Do you think these are activities you will bring into your life? Is there anything I’m missing?
Let me know in the discussion area below and I’ll gladly respond and update this post.
In fact, for more brain games you can play that really improve your memory, please read Brain Games: The Truth You Need To Know For Memory Improvement.