10 Surprising Activities That Boost Your Cognitive Skills

by Staff

It becomes increasingly important to constantly find different ways to sharpen brain function as we age. Boosting your cognitive skills will help you progress within the workplace and improve interpersonal relationships and ensure you perform daily activities more effectively. Moreover, keeping that grey matter exercised will also delay or prevent the onset of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Because there’s no time like the present when it comes to engaging with new activities to stimulate those brain cells, we’ve come up with a list of 10 somewhat surprising pastimes that you might want to consider getting stuck into. So here goes…

#1. Puzzles

There’s a reason why children are encouraged to complete puzzles, and there’s no reason you should stop as an adult. Puzzles challenge the mind in ways that promote blood flow to the brain and stimulate new neuron connections. This activity also encourages concentration, learning and memory. Furthermore, completing a puzzle successfully triggers dopamine release, reinforcing feelings of reward and satisfaction.


We often underestimate the importance of reducing stress and increasing happiness to our overall brain function. Whether you read the daily newspaper, gossip magazines, novels or academic paper, the mental benefits of reading are immense. It strengthens the brain by keeping it active and improving memory. Reading also engages your imagination and is a great form of escape from the stresses of daily life.

#3. Online Gambling

Yes, believe it or not, if you enjoy playing the odd no-deposit slot game, you may very well be on your way to enhancing your cognitive function. Online gambling encourages players to sharpen their problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination. When played responsibly and in a controlled manner, playing a casino game has also been proven to relax people, thereby increasing happiness which in turn helps our brain perform more effectively.

#4.Grow A Garden

The mental health benefits of having plants in your home are common knowledge. Cultivating a garden and watching it grow is believed to improve nerve growth and enhance memory capacity. Beyond that, the simple act of being in nature and fresh air is very relaxing and will lower stress. So if you have green thumbs, you’ll probably find your hobby positively affects your brain function. Moreover, the fact that gardening requires physical exertion prompts endorphin release, which will also contribute to your sense of well-being.

#5.Get Musical

Listening to or playing music activates the auditory cortex. This is the part of your brain that houses emotions, memory and the motor system. If you don’t use these parts of your brain, they’ll disintegrate over time, but music stimulates these areas and keeps them strong. Moreover, having a diverse range of musical interests stimulates different areas of the brain and increases your active listening ability.

#6.Unleash Your Inner Artist

Whether you enjoy drawing, painting or pottery, art engages perception and memory cognitive abilities. It also helps with hand-eye coordination. You may think of artists are creatives but art also engages the logical side of your brain. Once you get those creative juices flowing, you might find that you tend to notice the beauty around you more readily, which in turn boosts your happiness levels and lowers stress.

#7.Put On Your Dancing Shoes

Dancing involves learning new movement patterns and remembering steps and dance routines. Moreover, dancing involves physical movement, spatial awareness and social interaction, all of which promote blood flow to the brain. Due to the fact that dance involves both the mind and body, you’ll find it increases cognitive flexibility. So whether it is salsa, swing or ballroom dancing, taking a dance class is a great way to improve your perception and attention skills.


Meditation involves focusing attention in a calm and controlled manner. Meditating has several benefits for both the brain and the body. In fact, research shows that those who meditate on a regular basis stimulate brain function and increase their ability to process information. Moreover, as we age, we are more susceptible to conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, and meditation can delay the onset of such conditions.

#9. Learn A New Language

Learning a new language is a great skill when it comes to communicating with other people, and it can come in handy when you’re travelling, but being multilingual also increases the connectivity between different parts of the brain. Exercising your mind in new ways by learning languages is yet another proven skill known to delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

#10.Stay Social

Getting together with friends and meeting new people comes easy for some people. However, if you are more of an introvert, you’ll find that getting out of your comfort zone and engaging with other humans will also serve your cognitive function. Moreover, medical research has revealed that regular social interactions will delay cognitive decline as we age. Remember staying social doesn’t always need to involve sitting face to face and having a conversation but could involve activities like playing board games or participating in social sports.

So there you have it, folks; the options are endless, so there is no excuse when it comes to exercising that grey matter. We are sure that with this list of great activities, you can find something that tickets your fancy. Enjoy!

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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