Your brain is your most important asset, so why aren't you exercising it? Scientists have proven that using puzzles and other similar games can ward of mental illnesses encountered in the elderly years like Dementia and Alzheimer's.
I've compiled a list of different brain exercises that I use everyday to keep my brain sharp throughout life. Remember that to see real results you have to put in real effort.
Sudoku puzzles are the latest brain craze to hit the nation. It basically involves a piece of paper with 9 rows and 9 columns for a total of 81 spaces. In some of the spaces there are numbers that are already printed out. These numbers are 1-9.
Each column has 9 slots and has each number from 1 to 9 with NO repeats. Same for columns, 9 spaces with 9 different numbers. The grid is also segmented in 9 3-by-3 blocks that must contain the numbers 1-9 with no repeats. I know it sounds too complicated, but stick with it because it is worth it.
Start to fill in the grid according to the strict rules and it will become easier and easier until you have filled in all the spaces. The best part about Sudoku is that it is will known and there are thousands of books that contain problems for your brain to stay busy.
Ken Ken Puzzles
A ken ken puzzle is on a sheet of paper and has one big block. Inside the block contains a bunch of smaller containers that have numbers written in the upper corner. The number should also have a +, x, -, or divide sign next to it.
Basically you have to combine two numbers between 1 and 6 that equal the amount in the corner by using the addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division sign given. The columns and rows must contain the numbers 1-6 and have no repeats.
Ken Ken is great if you are more of a math oriented person (which is why they are my personal favorite).
Spending time just writing down your feelings or any stories are another great way to increase your brain performance. There are three basic options that I recommend if you want to add writing to your list of brain teasers.
Use a journal
Pros: Cheap and easiest way
Cons: Only there in the notebook, not easy to share with others
Start a Blog
Pros: You can share your stories with others
Cons: Can cost money (I recommend wordpress if you want a free blog), technology can create a learning curve.
Write for InfoBarrel
Pros: Be a part of a community, able to earn money
Cons: Requires time and lots of effort.
I do all three of these things and I love it. Just do what you are most comfortable with and writing will become an excellent weapon in your arsenal of brain exercises.
Solitaire or Freecell
Whether you play these card games with real cards or on the computer, they will help you keep your mind sharp. I won't go over the details of how to play each game because there are already many guides on the internet that explain the rules.
Another personal favorite game of mine is on every windows computer. You have to stick flags where you think the bombs are and click regularly where they are not.
To start out, I recommend you click on the 4 corners of the grid off the bat. Every once in a while a bomb will blow up and you'll lose, but most of the time you get a "pocket" of safe numbers. The numbers show how many bombs are around that square. If it's 1 and it is already touching on flag that you put on a bomb, you can click on all sides of the square with no fear.
Lastly but critical to mental health is a healthy diet of books. Pick anything you want from short stories to novels, as long as you read and read and read.
I left a lot of other suggestions for brain training exercises you can use daily but I think you've got the gist of what helps. Remember that you have to do these activities daily to ward of mental illnesses that come with age. Happy living!