15 Activities That Are Great For Your Brain

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Are you looking after your brain? Many brain-related diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s are partially believed to be caused by poor lifestyle choices and bad habits. By engaging in brain-friendly activities, you may reduce the risk of developing these diseases. At the very least, such activities could help to improve your memory and problem-solving skills – making you perform better in all areas of life. Below are just some of the activities that you can do to boost your brain’s health. 

Solving puzzles

Puzzles directly help to improve our problem-solving skills. They force us to draw upon old memories and think up new ideas in order to find the best solutions. There are many different puzzles that you can try to boost your brainpower. Jigsaw puzzles are the most basic form of puzzle – they help us build our visuospatial cognitive abilities. Word puzzles like crosswords and wordsearches can meanwhile help us build our language skills while helping us to detect patterns faster. Number puzzles like sudokus meanwhile boost skills like deductive reasoning.

Playing chess

While many board games test the brain, few test it to the same levels as chess. To win at chess, you need to be able to plan ahead and keep track of many possible future moves. This is a test of the memory, while also requiring a huge amount of critical thinking. You can play chess in person, or online against a human player or computer. Different types of chess like speed chess can test different skills.

Playing card games

There are many different types of card games, and each one can exercise different parts of the brain. Games like pairs are a test of memory, while a game like rummy improves pattern recognition. Meanwhile, a solo game like solitaire can test patience and force players to plan ahead. Card games are typically faster than chess and can be played with more players. You can play card games in person or online. 


Many of us don’t realise that reading is a problem solving task. It is a decoding process that many of us have simply become highly adept at. Reading also helps us to develop knowledge – much of the news and facts we learn is through text. Of course, that doesn’t mean that works of fiction aren’t also good for the brain as they can teach us vocabulary and require us to remember characters and visualise worlds. All in all, it’s good to read. This could include reading books, blogs, articles and all kinds of other texts.

Learning a new language

Learning a new language is a great brain exercise. It engages a number of different parts of the brain – including parts of the brain we rarely use beyond learning English as a child. It forces us to be patient and also sharpens our memory. Getting used to new language patterns and forming sentences also hones our problem solving skills. It’s up to you as to which language you learn, but ideally it should be a language that you really want to speak or have a passion to understand. You can learn languages through apps, videos, audiobooks, physical classes and one-on-one tutoring.

Learning a musical instrument

Learning an instrument tests similar parts of the brain to learning a new language. However, it also sharpens hand eye coordination. When you first learn an instrument, you have to learn how to play different notes and chords. Depending on what direction you take beyond this, you can then challenge your brain in different ways by learning other skills like sight-reading, composing or improvising. It’s up to you as to which instrument you learn – it could be anything from the piano to the drums. You can learn instruments with the help of a teacher or learn them yourself through various online resources. 

Doing mental maths

It’s easy to reach for a calculator when you need to do some maths. However, doing it in your head can be good for your brain. Being able to quickly do sums in your head can help with many tasks from splitting bills to taking measurements. While you may still want to confirm sums with a calculator, challenging yourself to work them out in your head first is a good habit to adopt. Games like darts, Scrabble and Monopoly can help build up these skills. 

Talking to friends

Socialising is good for our brain too. Every conversation we have is a mental workout in which we form questions and answers – all while taking in new information and recounting old information. Naturally, as we have more conversations, we become better at dealing with future conversations by knowing how to respond to certain questions in certain situations. Conversations with good friends can also be a good form of stress relief, as well as helping to combat mental illnesses like depression. 

Having debates

Debates are like a game in the form of a conversation. In order to win the argument, you need to come up with the most compelling point. This involves doing research, remembering facts and working out the best way to present these facts to prevent a counterargument. This makes debates a great form of mental exercise. You can have debates with people in person and you can even join debate clubs. Alternatively, you can engage in debates online. In either case, remember that a debate is not a row – keep it civil and don’t let your emotions take over. 

Physical exercise

Your brain doesn’t just benefit from mental exercises, but also physical exercises. A physical workout helps to improve blood flow to the brain, which helps us to focus and think clearer. Exercise is also a good stress buster – by releasing dopamine, it can make us think more positively. Any type of exercise that gets the heart pumping faster is good for the brain. This could include going for a run, doing yoga or playing sports with friends. 

Learning choreographed dances

Choreographed dances are a great test of memory. They are also one of the best exercises for strengthening mind and body coordination. On top of this, dancing is a physical workout, which can help us improve concentration and reduce stress. Many different forms of dance involve learning choreographs. You could try learning formal dances like the tango or the cha-cha. Alternatively, simply learning TikTok dances could be a good exercise for your brain. 


While many activities require us to use lots of different parts of our brain at speed, mediation is all about clearing the brain of clutter. It is typically used as a way of reducing stress by focusing on positive thoughts. However, meditation can also help us to form new ideas or solve problems in our head. To meditate effectively, take yourself away from all distractions. Sitting down and closing your eyes in a quiet room is the best way to focus – by being alone with your thoughts you can more easily reach your thought goals. 

Eating nuts and fish

Certain foods are sometimes referred to as ‘brain foods’. This is because they are packed with nutrients that are important for brain function. Two foods that are often referred to as brain foods are nuts and fish. Increased nut consumption has been linked to a lower risk of depression and faster learning abilities, which may be due to their content of omega-3, zinc and b-group vitamins. Fish is similarly full of these nutrients – often sporting even greater amounts of omega – and is recommended for those wanting to boost concentration. Salmon, tuna and herring are believed to be some of the best types of fish for boosting brain health. 

Going outdoors

Going outdoors is good for your brain too. Breathing in fresh air helps to provide your body with fresh oxygen, which can be sent straight to your brain to improve concentration. Being outdoors is also stress-relieving, because it exposes us to natural sights that humans have been conditioned to be familiar with over thousands of generations. This is believed to be why plants have such a calming effect. The sun can also be good for our mental health – types of depression like Seasonal Affective Disorder are often due to a lack of sunlight during certain months. 

Getting a good night’s rest

Are you getting enough sleep each night? Experts recommend getting about 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. This isn’t possible for everyone, but the closer you can get to this amount the healthier. Why is a good night’s sleep so important? It is when we are asleep that our brain reorganises itself, including storing memories and putting unnecessary thoughts to the back of our mind. After a good night’s sleep, we tend to have a sharper memory of the day before and are able to concentrate better. Years of good sleep may also help to fend off brain diseases like dementia. The key is to try to complete full cycles of sleep (each of which is about 90 minutes). If you’re not getting into a deep sleep, you’re not completing full sleep cycles.

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