Everyone knows that the key to a healthy body is diet and exercise. Many people obsessively work out every day to keep in tip top shape. So, if we’re so concerned with exercising our bodies, why do we often neglect to exercise our minds? Our brains are just like our muscles: use it or lose it. If we don’t do daily activities to help keep our brain in top order, we lose important skills; particularly the skill of remembering. So if you want to remember your mother’s phone number, your grocery list, or where you left your keys; start exercising your brain.

So, how exactly do you exercise your brain? There’s no brain gym you can get a membership to with “memory classes”, but there are things you can do on your own. Here are some things you can try to keep your neurons limber.

  • Open a newspaper. Sure, reading the paper might expand your knowledge, but if you really want to get your brain in shape, turn to the crossword puzzle. You can also try solving other puzzles that require using your language skills. These help you remember things by making you regularly access simple memories (i.e. certain words)
  • Try the latest puzzle craze. Go to a book store, go online, or look in the paper; you’re likely to find Sudoku puzzles. These are number puzzles that are becoming increasingly popular. They help exercise your brain’s deductive reasoning skills. Plus, they’re fun and incredibly addictive.
  • Learn something new. You’ve probably heard people say that learning something new pushes old information out of your brain. This is not only wrong, it’s just plain silly. The capacity of your brain is only determined by how much you want to put in it. Try learning a new skill or how to play a musical instrument. Learning a skill and continue to use it will keep your memory accessing skills limber.
  • Books, games and services. While there aren’t actually gyms you can go to, there are ways to get exercises specifically designed to improve memory. You can find these in book stores, online, and even in video game stores.

While it’s great to exercise your brain cells, don’t skip out on your trips to the gym. Keeping your body in good physical shape will help keep your brain healthy too. While cardio is the best work out to keep you healthy, you can still keep your memory if you can’t perform a strenuous workout. Even a simple walk for an hour a day can help prevent or slow memory loss. So get up and go as much as you can to keep your brain going.

Most people don’t worry about memory loss until they start to notice it slipping away, but the best time to start is while your mind is still sharp. You may not be able to bring your memory back, but you can keep it from fading. Regularly working your mind has even been shown to ward off Alzheimer’s. So if you want to keep your mind sharp, be sure to eat right, get enough rest, and exercise regularly.