Fit as a fiddle


Your mind needs just as much exercise as your body. That's why I spend time thinking of jogging every day.

- Anonymous


The fitness industry has become a huge part of modern society. People spend hours in the gym, conditioning their bodies to peak performance. For good reason too. Exercise keeps your body healthy and can extend your life by years. What we seem to have missed however, is the fact that our bodies are just one part of our being. Our minds being an often overlooked element that is frequently taken for granted. It is the super computer driving our lives. The window through which we experience all of our existence - surely it deserves as much attention as our bodies? You’d be right for thinking so.


Exercising your brain can boost your mental capacity in the same way lifting weights builds your muscles. You can actually train your brain to work better and faster; increasing capacity and accessing more memory. There’s even a term for it - Neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to grow and expand. According to the latest Neuroscience studies, our brains reach peak performance between 16 and 25 years old and begin to decline from there. Cognitive decline is an issue we all face as we grow older and diseases like Alzheimer's accelerate the decline. Luckily you can actively work against the decline and even postpone the symptoms of Alzheimer’s with regular brain exercise. Just like training your body, brain exercise takes a bit of discipline. Going to the gym twice a month does not get you into shape and the brain acts in the same way. 20 minutes of brain exercises each day is optimal and you should start to experience results within a few months. A healthy diet, ample sleep and regular physical activity will assist your growth.


So how do you train your brain? We’ve compiled 3 easy activities that you can build into your daily routines that will put your brain on the treadmill and get it sweating in no time at all.



1. Neurobics

These are mental exercises you can perform everyday. Try closing your eyes during activities like buttoning your shirt or tying your shoelaces. Use your non-dominant hand when brushing your teeth or eating. Change up your routines to give your brain new points of view, like choosing a different seat at the dinner table or try a different couch to normal.



2. Puzzles

Sudoku and crossword puzzles are a fun and easy way to exercise your brain when you have a spare minute. The key with these is to mix it up as they work different aspects of your faculty. Try a different kind of puzzle everyday to get the maximum effect and keep your brain from getting too comfortable. Gifts of puzzle books are an excellent gift for your elder loved ones. Alternatively, sign up for a free account on to access hundreds of free mind exercises from a tablet or ipad.



3. Reading

There really is no substitute food for the brain than a good book. Daily reading should be a regular routine. To make the most of your reading, try a book that teaches you something new. This will exercise the brain far more than a novel, which acts as an escape. Don’t stop reading your favourites, just add a challenging book into your reading schedule.


Just like getting your body into shape, you’re never too old to start prioritising your brain. Get proactive about it, making time for it. Just 20 minutes a day and you’ll be well on your way to a sharper, faster you.


Wendy Bezuidenhout