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Published on May 15th, 2014 | by gareth

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Cheap and Free Ways to Exercise Your Brain in Your Spare Time

Adults who engage in brain exercises can see results up to a decade after drilling their brains, adding hope to the fight against cognitive decline as we age, the Boston Globe reports. What’s more, you do not have to sign up for an expensive course to hone your brain skills. If you want to exercise your mind for a sharper memory and faster mental reflexes, you can do it for very little or even no money at all.

Playing Games

Contrary to the popular belief that games produce sluggish minds, a study by Nature actually suggests the exact opposite. The study looks at such aspects of gaming as multitasking and concludes that gaming improves cognitive function, namely in the aging population. This means you can download games online  and start improving your brain right away.

Reading

There is no doubt that reading exercises the brain and provides many cognitive benefits for avid readers, such as vocabulary expansion. If you are looking for a vocabulary boosting brain activity, reading is your best source, according to a California State University paper by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich. Scientific article abstracts have the most rare terms per 1,000 words. If that is not your style, newspapers are a distant second.

Crossword, Logic and Word Puzzles

For just a few dollars, you can exercise your mind using the puzzle books available at most drug, grocery and book stores. These puzzle books contain everything from crossword puzzles to textual logic puzzles. Crossword puzzles force you to access vocabulary words you may not get a chance to use often. Logic puzzles give you a story from which you have to determine facts not stated outright in the text using deduction. If you prefer using your computer, tablet or smart phone, you can find free sites and apps that provide these puzzles online.

Free Online Courses

Thanks to massive open online courses offered free by sites like Coursera, you can now take college courses for free in your spare time. You get a similar education (and brain exercise0 as you would in a university. Most of these courses do not count as college credit, but you get lectures from real professors that you can watch whenever you get a chance. You will have the option of completing quizzes, essays and peer assessments, but you can complete as much or as little as you like. Even better than that, you can drop the course whenever you want if you find it boring.

Go to Museums

Few places give you as much opportunity to think and learn as museums. If you have the opportunity, take a guided tour of an art, history or science museum so you learn more about the exhibits. Alternatively, use a service like Acusticguide with your own personal listening device. Even if you cannot get a tour, museums typically post information that is easily accessible to visitors so you can give yourself a lesson as you wander through exhibits.


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