General Health

Exercising Your Mind: 5 Leisure Activities That Can Keep You Sharp

There are lots of good ways to make sure that your mind is getting exercise in addition to your body. First and foremost, there are mental benefits of physical exercise. When you make an effort to keep your body in good health, your mind will benefit in numerous ways — right up to potentially becoming more effective at staving off depression and anxiety. Additionally, there’s diet to consider. As we once noted with regard to the perks of peppermint tea, certain healthy and natural substances can increase concentration and general performance in our brains.

In multiple ways then, a healthy lifestyle with regard to fitness and nutrition should help you to maintain a healthy mind. With that said however, there are also more direct ways to exercise your mind even at rest. The right leisure activities — some of which we’ll touch on here — can help you to maintain calm, combat stress, and even keep your concentration and recall sharp.


While not everyone turns to reading as a go-to hobby, few would dispute the notion that it can be a soothing activity. Particularly in today’s fast-paced and largely digital world, there just aren’t many things that slow you down quite like a good book (or even a long, interesting article). Beyond the mere idea of slowing down and devoting real attention to a leisure activity though, reading benefits the mind in numerous ways. It prevents some age-related decline, reduces stress, strengthens neural connections, and improves memory and concentration. Given these benefits, it’s only right to consider this particular hobby a true “exercise” for the mind.

Relaxing Video Games

What constitutes a “relaxing” video game is subjective. For most, it might call to mind mobile puzzles games that are often described (unscientifically) as having meditative qualities. For others, it might mean digital solitaire or chess. Then again, plenty of people find it relaxing to immerse themselves in fast-paced action games as well! Ultimately though, whether you’re meandering through an atmospheric mobile puzzle, flipping cards in solitaire, or shooting up bad guys in the latest Call Of Duty, a video game can have the effect of shutting out stress and allowing the mind to recover from the burdens of everyday life. The games can exercise the mind in the sense that they can allow it to recharge and regain stamina.


Poker is another specific option that can fit into the “relaxing video game” category, though it carries some additional benefits as well. For one thing, if you play with others you’ll be building social skill and experiencing some of the joy of connecting, which in turn can ease stress. Playing online poker with friends is a straightforward daily outlet for a lot of people, and it can counter the pressure and isolation we often feel in our daily lives. Beyond social benefits though, poker also challenges your mind to work in specific ways. The game demands concentration, recall, and level-headedness — all of which are very real mental skills that can be exercised and improved.


A puzzle can actually be a great many things: a literal jigsaw puzzle, a word or numbers exercise, a 3D model, or even, again, a mobile game. Whatever sort of puzzle might appeal as a leisure activity though, the fact is that most of them have certain benefits with regard to mental exercise. Puzzles force you to be both analytical and creative; they force you to problem-solve and to exercise visual recognition and recall; and of course, they can reduce stress levels (provided you aren’t stuck looking for one pesky piece the dog snatched up). All things considered, these perks make for a pretty thorough mind workout.


Coloring has become something of a phenomenon as an adult hobby in recent years, and there’s been some debate about the boost to brain power. Some say that coloring improves memory and concentration in an impactful, lasting manner. Others contend that it’s merely an enjoyable activity. What’s more or less certain though is that for many people coloring is an excellent form of relaxation, and yet another way to wash away your stress and anxiety. That alone makes it yet another important mental exercise among day-to-day leisure activities.

This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it gets you thinking about how you can work out your mind as well as your body. There are a lot of things we can do at rest to improve certain mental functions, address stress and pressure, and achieve happier, more relaxed mental states.

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