A healthy family is perhaps the most important thing to you, and many others. Feeding your family a diet that nourishes the body and making time for exercise are two of the largest factors in your family’s health equation. However, you might be neglecting a significant area of health: your brain. Keeping your mind active and healthy improves cognitive function, increases focus and memory and can just be downright fun. We’ve come up with several activities the help stimulate the mind to keep it healthy.
Okay, yes we know we already mentioned exercise is important to your overall health, but walking is also an excellent brain activity. The benefits which can be found from walking include growth of new blood vessels in the brain, reducing inflammation and insulin resistance, and stimulating the release of growth factors – chemicals that are present in the brain and can affect the health of our brain cells. You don’t need to put your family in an exercise boot camp to get these brain benefits; a simple walk around the neighborhood as a family will produce these results.
Gathering your family to work on a puzzle together is a great way to spend quality time together while also keeping your minds healthy. You probably know that your brain is responsible for producing dopamine, but you may not know why that it important. Dopamine is the chemical that is largely responsible for learning and memory. Putting together a jigsaw puzzle with your family releases dopamine. The type of puzzle you use will probably be determined by the ages of your children. Younger children will require less complicated puzzles, so be sure to have some kid-friendly puzzles together as well as challenging puzzles for older children and other adults in your family.
In the age of electronics and technology, kids probably get more screen time than time spent with family playing games that really encourage a healthy mind. Board games are a great way to spend time together as a family and to improve your minds. Board games are great especially with children in the elementary school age range because they require learning skills such as taking turns, problem-solving and creative thinking. Some of our favorite family games are Uno, Scrabble and Battleship. Monopoly is a great game that teaches about money and cause and effect, but we recommend not trying this one with a toddler.
While the activities mentioned above are excellent ways to keep your family’s minds active and healthy, many of the things you do every day with your family also help keep the mind active. Listening and talking not only strengthen family bonds, but can help stimulate areas of your brain. You could also work on crosswords as a family, color mandalas together (or each color their own) or listen to classical music during meals. The activities available to keep your family’s minds healthy is limited only by your creativity.