Countdown: TOP 8 Brain Exercises – #7

In this 8-part article series, we are counting down the Top 8 Brain Exercises that you can easily engage in for boosting your brain health and overall well-being.


The information shared in this series is from the book How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist by Andrew Newberg M.D. & Mark Robert Waldman.

After you read this article, I challenge you to actively practice this exercise and test it for yourself.

Approach this process in a spirit of curiosity and fun. See what happens.

Are you ready?

Drumroll please…….

 Top Brain Exercise #7: Stay Intellectually Active


Just like with the health of your muscles, when it comes to the health of your brain, if you don't use it, you lose it. Your brain has dendrites (neuron ‘inputs’) and axons (neuron ‘outputs’) that connect one neuron to thousands of other neurons. These are kind of like your brain’s muscle fibers. As you focus your attention in a way that requires learning, you not only strengthen your current connections but make new ones. Your connections grow and your brain remains strong.

There’s a rule in Nature that I often mention to my clients: “In Nature things are either growing or dying - a state of growth or a state of decay - there is no middle-ground.”

This means that if you’re not engaging your brain in the process of learning (making and strengthening new connections), your brain enters into a type of decay.

Intellectual and cognitive stimulation (thinking using reason, logic, and imagination) strengthens your frontal lobe - the area of your brain that has more neural connections than any other area. To quote co-authors Newberg and Waldman, “Nearly every age-related cognitive disability is related to the functioning of your frontal lobe, so it’s particularly important to exercise this specific part of your cortex”.



Here are some examples of activities for you to engage in that will strengthen that all-important frontal lobe of yours:

  • read books (Fiction & Non-Fiction)
  • listen to audio books
  • attend a lecture
  • take a class
  • play strategy games like chess or mahjong
  • write in your journal / diary
  • watch an educational program
  • go to the museum
  • thoughtfully read spiritual scriptures
  • reflect upon the meaning of life
  • discuss important issues with friends
  • mentally rehearsing dance moves or your golf swing
  • seriously think about the deepest issues facing humanity
  • explore different perspectives


Please note that what all the above activities have in common is the use of your IMAGINATION.

It is also important to note that the more you enjoy activities like those mentioned above, the more beneficial they are to you. Positive emotions strengthen the likelihood of greater repetition which strengthens the neural connections.

Variety also enhances your benefits so ‘more’ can be better as long as it’s ‘more of different’ and not ‘more of the same’. Growth, after all, is the process of expansion into ‘new and different’ territory.



Video games, especially violent ones, do nothing for the health of your brain. In fact, it has been shown that violent video games clearly stimulate aggressive behaviour. As Newberg and Waldman report, “The more you do it, the more aggressive you may become and the more your coping skills are reduced. Frontal lobe functioning declines, exasperating attention deficit problems, dependency issues, and addictive behaviour in children and adolescents.” However, there is little convincing evidence that non-violent video gaming causes permanent neurological or behavioral damage.

Math problems and crossword puzzles, while in no way damaging, apparently don’t really help much for improving the strength of your frontal cortex. If you are doing these to ward off age-related disease, you’re barking up the wrong tree.



By consistently taking part in a wide variety of enjoyable, sophisticated, and challenging mental activities like those recommended above, you are paving your way to a plethora of mental, physical, and social health benefits. These include:

  • improving your ability to communicate
  • improving your ability to solve problems
  • improving your ability to make rational decisions about your behaviour
  • using your imagination improves your body’s motor coordination
  • you’ll achieve your personal goals more often - leading to greater confidence and self-esteem
  • a highly functioning frontal lobe makes it easier for you to diet, exercise, and avoid being tempted by unhealthy activities
  • you enjoy a much lowered tendency to react with anger or fear in any situation


These are some cool benefits! They all combine in a mutually supportive way to exponentially enhance the quality of your well-being.

Now it’s time for you to reflect upon the variety of brain boosting activities you’d like to implement more into your day - every day. The information in this article can't help you unless you apply the knowledge it contains.

Go for it! You have so much to gain.


I gotta go read a book now. 😉


Stay tuned as the next article in this countdown series, reveals Top Brain Exercise #6 !


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© 2014 Trent Janisch –

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