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Challenge Yourself: Keeping your Brain Active

We already know that puzzling has multiple benefits—it's relaxing, fun, and a good way to keep your brain in tip top shape. In fact, puzzles (and the variations of puzzles from Sudoku to Scrabble) are second on Wiki's list of things to do to exercise that big mass of nerves inside your cranium. The more you challenge your brain, the more new nerve pathways you form. The benefit of this has some amazingly positive benefits: namely, it can help you avert cognitive decline. So here's some things (easy things!) you can start doing in your daily life to make things a little more interesting, and make your brain work just a little bit harder. 

1. Get strategizing! Play strategy games like chess or bridge, Poker or Scrabble. 

2. Do new things to perk up your brain. Brush your teeth with your eyes closed or use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth (or build a puzzle)! Take a new route to work and stop living life on autopilot. 

3. Read more. Books, magazines, blogs (this one counts!) or the newspaper. Set little goals: ten pages of your novel a day before bed, an article with your lunch break meal, whatever—just fit in some reading time! 

4. Start memorizing more. Stop relying on your cell phone and try to learn a new friend's phone number. Or your grocery list. Or how about the US presidents in order

5. Listen to classical music because it increases brain activity more positively and helps with spatial intelligence. How about trying something new with your puzzles? Creative Crafthouse has a huge selection of brain teasers that will push you in entirely new ways! For instance, check out this brain puzzle:

  

Brainwave. Ages 10+. Difficulty: 4 out of 6. From the info page: This fellow really has a lot on his mind. Can you help him organize his thoughts? You must insert the 10 pegs into his mind such that no color is repeated on any of the rows, columns, or diagonals of the triangle on BOTH sides at the same time. Each peg has a different color combination on its ends.

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