Boost Your Brain Fitness: 7 Scientific Techniques That Work

Brain Fitness

Taking care of your brain is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body. As we get older, the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia rises, but there are ways to avoid becoming a statistic. You can help keep your brain healthy by taking simple steps to nourish and stimulate it. So, let’s make sure we’re taking care of our brains and giving them the nourishment and stimulation, they need to stay healthy.

In recent years, research into cognitive health has revealed the importance of engaging the brain in activities that help strengthen and protect it from age-related illnesses. Let’s look at some ways to boost your brain fitness that are backed by science.

Mental Exercises for the Brain: Play Sudoku and Other Brain Games

You’ve probably seen the ads for brain games on TV or in magazines. Brain games are activities that challenge your mind. In other words, they make you think and include puzzles, games, or even making your own art or music.

Though the evidence is mixed, there are several reasons these activities could improve brain health: They keep you mentally active and engaged with others. For example, people who play board games regularly tend to have better cognitive function than people who don’t play such games.

One study found that playing brain-training games benefits cognitive function in adults. For example, they improve attention and motor speed. Plus, playing games enhances some markers of brain health. There’s still no strong consensus in this area, though. More research is needed to determine if brain-training games can reduce the effects of aging in adults, but this is a promising start.

Write by Hand

Writing by hand is a simple way to boost your brain’s fitness level. Physically forming letters rather than typing helps you remember things better. Plus, it helps you process information more efficiently, connect with your emotions, and feel more connected to the world around you.

The benefits of writing by hand are many. It helps with memory, improves how well you focus, makes processing information faster and easier, allows deeper emotional connection with others, and boosts creativity.

According to Psychology Today, writing words longhand is more cognitively challenging for your brain and gives it more of a workout than typing. So, get out your favorite pencil or pen and write by hand once in a while. Don’t be so dependent on a keyboard.

Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

Science suggests learning an instrument can have a positive effect on your brain. Research finds that people who study an instrument have larger than average hippocampi (a portion of the brain responsible for learning and memory formation), which helps explain why musicians tend to have better memories than non-musicians.

They also reported lower levels of anxiety and depression than those without musical training — so don’t worry if playing the guitar makes you sad sometimes. You’ll still be smarter. Playing a musical instrument not only exercises your hands, but your brain also gets a workout.

Physical Exercise for Brain Health: Take Brisk Walks Outdoors

Boosting brain fitness is important for mental health and well-being. Elevating your heart rate through aerobic exercise or high-intensity interval training is an effective and enjoyable way to do this. Studies show that exercise improves cognitive function in the short and long term and can even reverse age-related declines in memory and brain health.

Plus, research shows brisk walking and other forms of aerobic exercise that raise your heart rate and boost BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which acts like fertilizer for the brain by helping your brain form new connections. This helps build up “cognitive reserve,” functioning brain areas that may protect against age-related brain diseases and the effects of aging on cognition.

But don’t neglect strength training either. There’s evidence that it too is beneficial for brain health.

Learn a Second Language

Studies show that learning a second language helps improve brain health in several ways. In one study, researchers from the University of California asked older adults (average age 72) who had learned a second language throughout their lives to participate in an exercise that measured their mental flexibility. They found that individuals who knew two or more languages had better results than those with only one language.

This is likely because learning a new language improves your brain’s ability to process information, which can help keep you mentally sharp as you grow older. It also helps prevent memory loss associated with aging.

If you’re interested in learning another tongue, many options are available: Spanish is the most popular choice — it’s an easy-to-learn Romance language and widely spoken throughout Latin America — but other languages such as French and Mandarin Chinese are also popular choices due to their widespread use around the world.

Follow a Brain-Healthy Diet

Start eating a brain-healthy diet by including more fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies find that a higher intake of antioxidant-rich foods like leafy greens, blueberries, cherries, and artichokes may protect against age-related cognitive decline by reducing oxidative stress on the brain.

Other foods to include are fish, nuts, and seeds. In fact, studies show that people who eat fatty fish at least once per week are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who don’t consume such healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of brain-healthy fat.

Nuts also contain monounsaturated fats, which help prevent cardiovascular disease (which increases the risk of developing dementia) and support brain health. These are all components of the Mediterranean diet.

Don’t Skimp on Sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the most important lifestyle habits for keeping your brain healthy. During sleep, you consolidate memories and convert them to long-term storage. Sleep protects against the effects of aging on the brain and influences emotional well-being.

Studies suggest lack of sleep can lead to depression and other mental health problems, and that can harm brain health. But getting enough sleep isn’t easy in today’s busy world. If you’re having trouble sleeping, check with your physician to ensure a health problem isn’t making it harder to fall or stay asleep.


There are many science-backed ways to boost your brain fitness. Physical exercise, a healthy diet, and mental workouts are just a few ways to improve your brain health. Additionally, getting enough sleep and challenging your brain can improve your brain’s fitness level. No matter which method you choose, the important thing is to keep your brain active and healthy.


  • Al-Thaqib A, Al-Sultan F, Al-Zahrani A, Al-Kahtani F, Al-Regaiey K, Iqbal M, Bashir S. Brain Training Games Enhance Cognitive Function in Healthy Subjects. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2018 Apr 20;24:63-69. doi: 10.12659/msmbr.909022. PMID: 29674605; PMCID: PMC5930973.
  • “Why Writing by Hand Could Make You Smarter | Psychology Today.” 14 Mar. 2013, .psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-medic/201303/why-writing-hand-could-make-you-smarter.
  • “Is It Better to Write By Hand or Computer? | Psychology Today.” 02 Oct. 2017, .psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-catcher/201710/is-it-better-write-hand-or-computer.
  • “Playing an Instrument: Better for Your Brain than Just Listening.” .pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2017/january/playing-an-instrument-better-for-your-brain-than-just-listening.
  • “Why Playing a Musical Instrument Can Protect Brain Health.” 02 Jun. 2017, neurosciencenews.com/musical-instrument-brain-health-6822/.
  • “Exercise and circulating BDNF: Mechanisms of release and implications ….” pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29775542/.
  • “The best foods for brain health | American Heart Association.” 09 Dec. 2020, .heart.org/en/news/2020/12/09/the-best-foods-for-brain-health.
  • “Foods linked to better brainpower – Harvard Health.” 06 Mar. 2021, .health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower.

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