How to Keep Your Brain Sharp and Active

Take care of your brain, improve memory and focus with our top advice on brain health. 

Top Ways to Keep Your Brain Active

Many of us have recently had an unexpected and unprecedented amount of down-time, and it’s easy to find that the brain gets a little stagnated with long periods of inactivity. While it may be tempting to use the time to catch up on every movie and TV show you have never watched, it’s important to keep your brain sharp and active as well.

Here we have rounded up the best advice from medical professionals and psychology experts on ways to stop the brain torpor, stay sharp and prevent long-term mental decline. As well as activities and pastimes – strategy games like chess and poker are especially popular, you can find sites offering the latter at – we have included some ideas that you may not have thought of.

1. Get enough sleep

This is undoubtedly the single most important piece of advice that we can give you. Even if you spend most of your waking hours idle, getting a solid eight hours every night will go a long way towards keeping your brain sharp. Sleep is vital for enhancing attention, promoting creativity and problem-solving abilities, as well as playing a central role in memory.

2. Exercise

This follows on from the last piece of advice, as exercise is one way to improve your sleep. It has brain-boosting effects of its own, too. Numerous studies have confirmed the connection between exercise and brain health, and regular aerobic exercise will stimulate the growth of new brain cells. Of course, exercise has a lot of other health benefits as well.

3. Drink water

Feeling a bit fuzzy-brained? Drink a glass of water. Full hydration is essential for the brain, helping to balance your mood, maintain memory and improve focus. If you often get brain-fogging headaches, hydration is the first thing you should check. How much water you need depends on factors like age, weight, activity levels and climate. The absolute minimum daily fluid intake for adults (excluding alcoholic and caffeinated beverages) is around a litre.

4. Learn

Studies show that it is not only engaging in brain-stimulating activities like chess that benefit us. The activity of learning a new skill, be it crochet or playing a musical instrument, is the best mental exercise there is. It is believed that learning is one of the primary ways to activate the processes that help to build the communication between individual brain cells.

5. Meditate

Just as important as stimulating the brain is giving it a break. Sleep is one way to do this, but evidence suggests that short daily meditation sessions have a positive effect on the hippocampus. In fact, simply setting aside some time each day to sit in silence is enough to be of benefit.

  1. Use your fine motor skills

Exercise primarily your gross motor skills, but to use your fine motor skills a different type of activity is needed. Some good ways to keep this essential function sharp include painting, knitting and even bouncing and catching a ball. These activities are also excellent for your hand-eye coordination.

7. Improve your diet

The role of nutrition in brain health is also essential, and something that is often overlooked. Many doctors recommend a Mediterranean style diet – a diet that is low in meat and dairy, but high in fish, unsaturated fats like olive oil, fruits and vegetables, and nuts, seeds and beans. Other brain-healthy foods include those high in antioxidants, which includes dark chocolate and red wine – in moderation, of course!

8. Stay social

Even if you can’t regularly see others in person, it’s important to stay in touch via other means. Use video calling technology to engage in face-to-face conversations, which are proven to be stimulating to the brain through the need to attend to auditory and visual cues, and listen and respond actively.

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