Does your brainpower need charging? Quarantine has forced us to convert our homes into the central hub for a lot of life’s activities. And as the weeks pass, the predictable schedule associated with working and playing under one roof can become monotonous.

If a mental fog has set in, and you’re having a difficult time differentiating one day from the next, you’re not alone. The brain needs constant stimulation to thrive and grow. And when you’re on autopilot everyday, the brain gets bored. That’s why it’s essential to implement brain challenges that help dust off the cobwebs and keep your mind sharp and strong.

Here are a few proven techniques to boost your brainpower:

Learn a new skill. The brain acts as a command center sitting at the top of the body. All day and night, it continually sends and receives signals throughout our system. And when we nurture this important organ, it has a better shot at supporting and enabling good quality of life as we age.

One way to strengthen the brain is by learning new skills. If you enjoy cooking, consider testing out an unfamiliar recipe. Always wanted to play an instrument, or learn a foreign language? Now could be the perfect time to finally fulfill that goal. By exploring the unknown, the brain forms fresh pathways of communication. And since learning can be exciting and satisfying, it may improve your mood too.

Hike your heart rate. Exercise is nature’s prescription for feeling good. It doesn’t cost a cent, and you don’t need a prescription. While it may be hard to get motivated sometimes, knowing the benefits should encourage you to get moving.

Though it doesn’t always feel like it, exercise is a euphoric experience for the body. As you begin your workout, a powerful series of events takes place. The rate of your breathing increases to keep up with the demand for more oxygen, and as a result, the lungs and muscles lining the ribs grow stronger. This amps up your lung capacity and endurance.

Right above the lungs, you’ll find the heart pumping nutrient-rich blood to the muscles and vital organs, like the brain. This surge of blood to the brain not only improves your mood from the release of endorphins, but it also can offer some powerful protective properties against brain-related risks like stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s. Daily (or near-daily) exercise helps the heart become stronger, and better able to handle everyday activities. This explains why athletes tend to have a lower resting heart rate.

The good news is, you don’t need to exercise for hours to gain perks. Just a 30-minute walk, five times a week is enough to promote better health.

Elevate hand-eye coordination. When we were young, exercise was fun because we didn’t realize we were doing it! We’d run, jump, and play games that helped mold our minds.

And one of the most important skills we sharpened during our youth was hand-eye coordination. Think of how many activities involved throwing or catching a ball. But as the body ages, this ability can decline as we do less to strengthen neuromuscular communication.

Build this area of the brain by getting in touch with your inner child. Bonus: all of these exercises can be performed from a safe distance!

  • Play tennis, racquetball, or pickleball for 30 minutes.
  • Learn how to juggle, and practice it once a day.
  • Toss a ball with a family member for 15 minutes.
  • Throw a tennis ball against the wall with your right hand, then catch it with your left 10 times. When done, repeat by throwing with your left and catching with your right. For an added challenge, elevate one leg and perform the same drill for 60 seconds. Then repeat lifting the opposite leg.
A balance and coordination exercise.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
A balance and coordination exercise.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.